January 28, 2009 / 3 Shevat 5769
Having lived in several countries before the age of 15, Daniel Nahum (21) knew that when it came to the future, there was only one place he wanted to be: Israel. “From the time I was little and we visited my grandparents in Haifa, I always loved Israel,” says Daniel.
In the summer of 2005, after graduating high school in Florida, Daniel, an outstanding soccer player, participated in the Maccabiah games in Israel with the Colombian soccer team. Through the Jewish Agency’s MASA initiative he stayed in Israel and received a scholarship to the one-year overseas program at Tel Aviv University. “Two months into the program, I knew that I was going to stay in Israel,” says Daniel. “I was learning Hebrew, traveling throughout the land and meeting incredible people.”
During his second semester in March 2006, Daniel made aliyah, and decided his next step was to enlist in the army. A Jewish Agency emissary suggested that as a lone soldier he join the Garin Tzabar program. Run in conjunction with the Israel Scouts Movement, this program enables groups of young Hebrew-speaking Jews – some of whom are the children of Israelis – to make aliyah together and join the army. Garin participants live on a kibbutz, thus receiving much-needed support in their transition to Israel and the IDF, but serve individually in the army.
“Garin Tzabar is like a family to me,” says Daniel. “We were the first international group, coming from England, France, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Austria and America. We lived on a kibbutz, built great relationships and had a wonderful support system.” Daniel is now serving in an elite paratroopers unit, and is proud of his decision to make aliyah. “I know that my decision to make aliyah and join the army was the right thing to do,” says Daniel. “My belief in this country and the reasons for its creation are what pushed me to leave my family and friends and build my future in Israel. It is also the root of my service in the Israeli army. It is a great honor to be an Israeli soldier and to know that I am protecting my country and my people.”
To learn more about Jewish Agency programs that help lone soldiers serving in Israel's Defense Force, click here. Or visit our donation page to show your support for those defending Israel's borders while their families are elsewhere in countries around the world.