WHAT IS MACHAL?
Machal is an IDF program through which non-Israeli citizens can serve in the army. Men aged 18-23 and women aged 18-20 are eligible to join Machal. These soldiers are required to serve for at least 18 months, as opposed to regular army service which is longer. The enlistment process takes at least two months. Theoretically, after you are done with your army service you must leave Israel for 2 years. If not, you will be required to re-enter the army to do more army service. This is not always enforced. If you become an officer, you will have to extend the length of your army service. Machal soldiers are not eligible to join elite units and usually are not eligible to join Modiin (Intelligence).
HOW TO JOIN MACHAL
RECEIVING YOUR TZAV RISHON
Before you start, what is a tzav rishon?
Your tzav rishon will be the first time you encounter the army. You’ll receive an invitation to your tzav rishon in the mail, on which is listed the date and location of the tzav rishon. There, you will be evaluated in order to receive a medical profile and kaba (quality test results). The medical profile and kaba score will determine the units you are eligible to serve in. Note: Tzav Rishon is used to refer to the piece of paper you receive in the mail, as well as the evaluation at the lishkat hagiyus (Recruitment Office).
Follow these steps to receive your tzav rishon:
1. Get in touch with the Mahal office: You should E-mail them at Mahal@mod.gov.il
Your E-mail must include: Your name, country of origin, date of birth, when you want to draft and to which unit/position, if you or your parents have or have ever had Israeli Citizenship, dates of entry and exits to Israel, and any questions you may have.
2.Interview at Misrad Habitachon (Ministry of Defense)
Once you have made contact with the Machal office, you will set up an interview at the Misrad Habitachon. The address of the Misrad Habitachon is 9 Leonardo da Vinci St,. Tel Aviv.
What should you bring to the interview?
Original letter from your shul Rabbi on official stationery stating that both you and your mother are Jewish.
Passport that is valid until the expected end date of your army service.
Original birth certificate.
Medical form completed by a doctor in your country of origin, which can be found here.
The Misrad Habitachon will give you a letter of referral to bring to the Jewish Agency to approve your Rabbi’s letter.
3. Letter Approval at Jewish Agency
Bring all the above documents and the letter of referral from the Misrad Habitachon to the Jewish Agency offices either in Tel Aviv (17 Kaplan St.) or Jerusalem (48 King George St.). You can also email the office at email@example.com.
Once the letter has been approved, fax the approved letter to the Misrad Habitachon at 03-6084579.
4. Visa at Misrad Hapnim (Ministry of Interior)
The Misrad Habitachon will send you a letter of referral to the Misrad Hapnim in order to receive an A2 Machal Visa. Here is a list of Misrad Hapnim locations and open hours.
What should you bring to the office?
Passport that is valid until the expected end date of your army service
Approved Rabbi letter
Referral from Misrad Habitachon
2 passport pictures
Original birth certificate
5. Fax Visa to Misrad Habitachon
This is the last step before you receive your tzav rishon. Fax a copy of your A2 Machal Visa to the Misrad Habitachon at 03-6084579. Contact them if you have not received your tzav rishon within two weeks.
YOUR TZAV RISHON
Your tzav rishon invitation will have the date and location of your tzav rishon. You must go to the lishkat giyus (drafting center) listed on the invitation. At your tzav rishon you will receive your medical profile and kaba (quality score), which will determine which units you are eligible to join. A medical score of 72-97 means you can join a combat unit. A medical score of under 64 means you are eligible for non-combat units only. Here is a guide to how your medical profile is determined.
The tzav rishon is meant to be completed in one day – but it is a very long day! Sometimes, you may have to go back a few times if they need more medical information or want to perform other tests. You go from station to station completing intelligence tests, medical exams, personal interviews, and kaban (mental tests). You may take the intelligence test in English. A score of 6 or higher on the Hebrew test exempts you from ulpan at Michve Elon.
What should you bring to your tzav rishon?
Passport with A2 Machal Visa
Doctor’s notes detailing any medical issues
Another form of picture ID
RECEIVING A MANILA
After your tzav rishon you should receive what is called a manila. For bureaucratic reasons not everyone receives it. The manila lists all of your unit placement options based on your medical profile and kaba scores. Fill in your top two choices. Some suggested units require further testing, which you may sign up for. Then, go to the Bakum (headquarters of absorption and selection) near Tel Hashomer Hospital to meet with the Katzin Miyun (selection officer), who will tell you what your placement is. If you did not receive your manila you must call the lishkat hagiyus to make an appointment with the Katzin Miyun to discuss options. If you are having trouble with this stage, contact the Lone Soldier Center, which will help you with the process.
CREATING A BANK ACCOUNT
You need an Israeli bank account so that you can be paid throughout your service. For convenience purposes, try to choose a bank that is close to where you live. The main banks are Discount, Hapoalim, Mizrahi-Tefahot, Leumi and First International Bank of Israel.
What should you bring to create an account?
Passport (or other photo ID)
1,000 NIS for initial deposit (some banks may require less)
A2 Machal Visa
YOUR TZAV GIYUS
You will receive your tzav giyus (draft notice), which will state the date of your induction into the army! It will also list a location where you will meet on that date in order to get to the Bakum (headquarters of absorption and selection). At the Bakum, you’ll receive uniforms, an army ID card, and other items. Bring your bank account information – you start to get paid on your giyus day. You should also make sure you receive a letter stating that you are a lone soldier.
If you have any additional questions about your draft, call the Recruitment Information Center at *3529.
Garin Mahal is a program for non-Israeli citizens who are interested in joining the IDF through Machal. The Garin provides a framework through which young men start physically and mentally training for the IDF and receive assistance in the sign-up process. Participants may join either religious or non-religious units. Once they have joined the army, Garin Machal remains a support system for soldiers who have gone through the program. For more information click here.
Lev Lachayal, a program within Yeshivat Lev HaTorah, provides a supportive yeshiva environment for men who are drafting into the army. The program begins six months prior to your draft date and combines yeshiva study, physical training and ulpan to properly prepare you for life in the army. The yeshiva also acts as a home base while you serve in the army. This program is meant for both olim and Machal soldiers after at least one year of study in yeshiva. For more information click here
Machal Hesder is a 21-month program for religious students who are not citizens of Israel and want to enlist into units that are either totally or partially religious. In order to join the army though Machal Hesder you must first sign up to study in a Yeshivat Hesder. Popular Yeshivot Hesder amongst Anglos include Yeshivat Har Etzion, Yeshivat Birkat Moshe (Ma’aleh Adumim), Yeshivat Hakotel, Netiv Aryeh, and Yeshivat Shaalavim. For a complete list of Yeshivot Hesder click here. You may also have to take a trip to the Iggud Yeshivot HaHesder to hand in paperwork and be interviewed. To contact the Iggud Yeshivot HaHesder, call 02-6209010.
Once you have signed up through a Yeshivat Hesder, you will need to follow the steps outlined below in order to sign up for Machal, receive an A2 Visa and finally receive your tzav rishon. Once you have successfully completed the tzav rishon procedure, you will receive a chiyul date. Chiyul means becoming a soldier through Hesder. You will go to the Lishkat Hagiyus and receive an ID card. This marks the beginning of Shalat (non-paid service), in which you study in yeshiva for five months. You will become an active soldier with the rest of your Machal Hesder group either in March or August.