Lone Soldier Receives Honor from President Reuven Rivlin

Ariela Tenenbaum immigrated to Israel from Guatemala. She is a lone soldier in the IDF, and received an honor from Israel’s President, Reuven Rivlin, for excellence in her IDF service.

Ariela Tenenbaum made Aliyah (immigrated to Israel) from Guatemala at age 19 at the beginning of 2014, after participating on The Jewish Agency’s Masa program.

Today, she serves in Israel’s Air Force. On Yom Haatzmaut this year, she was decorated with a commendation of excellence by President Reuven Rivlin.

Ariela comes from a community that values Judaism and Zionism.

She was certainly influenced by these values. At just 12 years old, she announced to her parents that she saw her future in Israel. 

"The fact that I lived in a small community led to Judaism and Israel being ever present in my life” she said. 

"Since I was a child, I was involved in the Young Maccabi movement. That’s where I learned about Israel and the IDF. And even at that very young age, I was thinking about life in Israel and becoming a soldier.”

Ariela is very happy with her decision to live in Israel. 

What made you want to go on the Masa program?
"I wanted to come to Israel for an extended program so I could learn how to improve the activities of my youth movement back in Guatemala. I took part in a long term training program for a year in Israel. I learned a lot, and it helped me better understand the State of Israel, it’s significance, and what it provides to its people."

Ariela learned a great deal during her time on Masa, and created programs and activities for her youth movement back home, and worked with another friend to help implement those plans. 

But during her program, she also decided to make the move to Israel as an Olah – an immigrant. 

“My time on Masa helped me strengthen my decision to make Aliyah; I said to myself: This is what I want to do."

Ariella turned her dream into a reality with the help of The Jewish Agency. She made Aliyah at the beginning of 2014.

Her first stop after making the move official was to Kibbutz Magen Michael, where she took an Ulpan (Intensive Hebrew course).

Ariela appreciated starting her journey as an Israeli citizen "…with students from all over the world, and having the same goals: to learn Hebrew and work [on the kibbutz]. It's amazing but this atmosphere helped me a lot to learn Hebrew."

"And, when I worked, I learned that nothing comes for free. I appreciated the work I did and the achievements that came in its wake."

When she finished her ulpan program at Kibbutz Magan Michael, she entered the army. Two years later, she received the honor from President Reuven Rivlin, along with 119 select soldiers. Very few among those who receive a commendation of excellence are lone soldiers. 

“If something's hard for me – I work even harder to achieve it. That’s a value I learned from my home growing up, and also from my youth movement. From a young age I learned that when you try hard, you can succeed.”

Is it difficult to be a lone soldier, with your family so far away? 
"Actually, it was more difficult for me before I enlisted. Once you enlist as a lone soldier, you aren’t alone at all. It's amazing what people do and can do for the soldiers who come to serve in the IDF."

What are your plans for the future? 
"When I finish my military service, I think staying at Kibbutz work and study pre-medical course at Magen David Adom. And longer term, I want to study criminology and what I most want is to stay in Israel."

Any advice for young people moving to Israel?
"The most important thing is to have patience. And although it can be difficult at first when you move here, keep at it. It is important to be in touch with a lot of new immigrants in Israel who can help and support you."

Ariela, we wish you only the best as you continue your journey in Israel! 


Written originally in Spanish by Horacio Berenbaum
Translated by Sergio Goldstein, Nathan Roi and Avi Bass


14 Oct 2016 / 12 Tishrei 5777 0
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