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Joining IDF as a Non-Jewish Foreigner

Joining IDF as a Non-Jewish Foreigner

The unexpected attack of Hamas on Israeli kibbutzim near the Gaza border on the 7th of October 2023 left the international community shocked. Parallels have been drawn to the Yom Kippur War of 1973 and the 9/11 attacks. Videos captured by Hamas terrorists of their atrocities have shed light on the horrifying danger faced by Israelis, reinforcing the need for a strong Jewish state. Consequently, our immigration-focused law firm has witnessed a remarkable 1000% surge in inquiries from Jews and non-Jews alike around the world, aspiring to join the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).

Joining the IDF as a Non - Jew

So, what are the options for foreigners looking to join the IDF? For Jewish people living abroad, or those who are not Jewish but are eligible for Aliyah according to the Law of Return (children or grandchildren of Jews) the IDF offers a Volunteers from Abroad program called Mahal. Our article, IDF Recruitment of Foreign Citizens, helps to explain the nuances for foreign Jews wishing to join the IDF.

Unfortunately, foreign citizens who are not eligible for Aliyah and Israeli citizenship,  cannot join the IDF. However, there are alternative paths available for lovers of Israel around the world to aid during this war. In this article, we will explore these options.

Ministry of Health Looking for Volunteers 

The Israeli Ministry of Health has announced that its system is well-prepared with an ample workforce and a pool of dedicated volunteers. Nevertheless, to anticipate potential scenarios that may require extra assistance and in response to the overwhelming interest from concerned citizens eager to lend a hand, the Ministry has initiated the process of assembling a roster of ready and willing volunteers. Unlike the IDF, this initiative is open to individuals from all walks of life, regardless of their right to Israeli citizenship, especially if they have a medical training background, such as doctors, nurses, paramedics, etc. 

The program is actively seeking licensed healthcare professionals who can provide medical expertise. Additionally, they can assign qualified non-healthcare workers to various non-medical roles, including administration, logistics, transportation, and more, to support the overall effort. 

VOIS – Volunteer in Israel 

The Volunteering Opportunities in Israel Service (VOIS) is an official program supported by the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, and Social Services of the State of Israel. The program includes over 1,000 volunteers from 51 different countries around the world. 

VOIS offers diverse volunteer options that encompass various areas of need within Israeli society. Volunteers can engage in activities such as assisting children and adults with autism, supporting individuals with physical and cognitive disabilities, working with at-risk youth, caring for the elderly, and providing companionship to Holocaust survivors.

Locations for volunteering are spread throughout the country, each accommodating a team of 2-20 volunteers alongside dedicated social workers and professionals to provide guidance and support. Volunteers commit to a service period ranging from 6 months to a year.

VOIS is an ideal opportunity for a range of individuals, including students looking to take a gap year, retirees seeking meaningful engagement, and couples interested in contributing to the community. 

Donate Money 

Another option is to donate money to reliable NGOs. Our law firm recommends these options: 

Friends of the IDF (FIDF): Friends of the IDF, the only designated partner of the IDF in the United States, is currently hosting an emergency campaign in order to raise money for necessities such as temporary field hospitals, intensive care ambulances, hygiene kits, and plasma kits. 

United Hatzallah: United Hatzallah offers free and universal humanitarian services 24/7. Their team of volunteers can respond to more than 2,000 medical emergencies per day with a call time of only 3 minutes. 

American Friends of Magen David Adom (AFMDA): Magen David Adom (MDA) is the Israeli branch of the International Red Cross. Although the government mandates the MDA, it is not a government agency and cannot receive government support for general operations. Because of this, the MDA relies on support from donors.  

International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ): Founded by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, IFCJ is dedicated to fostering connections between Jews and Christians. Your contributions support a wide range of causes, including assistance for Holocaust survivors, impoverished families, support for soldiers, defense efforts, and empowerment of youth.

The Ari Flud Project: The Ari Flud project was started in memory of Ari Flud, a lone soldier who was killed by a terrorist in 2018. They currently have two emergency campaigns, both focusing on getting reservists proper equipment. 

Closing Thoughts 

To review, Joining the IDF as someone ineligible for Israeli citizenship is not possible, but you can still contribute through the Ministry of Health’s new program, VOIS, and donations to reliable NGOs. Your willingness to help has not gone unnoticed, we appreciate your concern for Israel in this trying time. The international community that chooses to stand by us gives us strength, encourages our soldiers, and warms the hearts of all those affected. 

If you have any further inquiries or require additional support, we are here to assist you. Our offices, in both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, specialize in immigration services related to Israel, catering to clients from across the globe.