IDF SERVICE FOR OLIM
WHAT IS STANDARD ARMY SERVICE?
In general, regular army service for citizens of Israel is 2 years and 8 months for men and 2 years for women. However, the length of service for Olim will vary, depending on when you first arrive in Israel. Click here for a chart that calculates length of service. For information about Hesder, click here.
HOW TO JOIN THE IDF
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 instructions to receive your tzav rishon:
One year after you receive your teudat zehut (Israeli ID) you will receive your tzav rishon in the mail. Your tzav rishon is an invitation to the Lishkat Hagiyus (induction office) to begin the process of signing up for the army. If you want to expedite the process of receiving your tzav rishon you must fax a form to the Lishkat Giyus called Vitur Al Shnat Klita saying that you want to join the army sooner. If you need assistance you can contact Nefesh B’Nefesh by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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?
Israeli passport, if you have one
Doctor note detailing any medical conditions
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.
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.
Hesder is a program that allows men, who are citizens of Israel, to serve in the army and learn in yeshiva. Men studying in the same hesder program usually serve in the same units together if they are combat soldiers. Non-combat soldiers may join different units. Hesder includes 18 months of active army service and 24 months of yeshiva study. Popular Yeshivot Hesder amongst Anglos include Yeshivat Har Etzion, Yeshivat Birchat Moshe (Ma’aleh Adumim), Yeshivat Hakotel, Netiv Aryeh, and Yeshivat Shaalavim. For a complete list of Yeshivot Hesder click here.
After making aliyah, your yeshiva’s Hesder coordinator should sign you up for Hesder army service. You will have to sign a few forms, which the coordinator will fax to the Iggud Yeshivot HaHesder. About a year after you receive your teudat zehut you will get your tzav rishon in the mail. If you want to expedite the process of receiving your tzav rishon you must fax a form to the Lishkat Giyus called Vitur Al Shnat Klita saying that you want to join the army sooner. If you need assistance you can contact Nefesh B’Nefesh by sending an email to email@example.com.
Once you have completed your tzav rishon you will receive a letter to be mitchayel (officially drafted). You will then go to the Bakum (headquarters of absorption and selection) with the rest of your yeshiva to be mitchayel. This marks the beginning of Shalat, the yeshiva portion of your service. During Shalat 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 receive uniforms, an army ID card, and many other items. Bring your bank account information – you start to get paid on your giyus day! You should also make sure that you receive a letter stating that you are a lone soldier.
Garin Tzabar’s Garin Dati is an army service program for religious Olim. Each soldier joins a garin (small group) of lone soldiers in a Kibbutz Dati, where they live throughout their army service. Garin Tzabar provides a religious framework of social and material support for lone soldiers.Once you officially make aliyah, you are eligible to join Garin Tzabar. Three months before you join the army you will be placed in a host kibbutz (Lavi, Sa’ad, Be’erot Yitzchak and others). From there you will participate in educational activities, tours and ulpan, all in preparation for your military service. Once you have been drafted, the Kibbutz remains your home, and your garin and adoptive family from the kibbutz are there to support you throughout your service. 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