The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) is comprised of thousands of native Israelis, each carrying out their compulsory service upon completion of their secondary education. In addition, more than 3500 young men and women serve their adopted country as chayalim bodedim, or lone soldiers. Coming from more than 30 countries, each of them has left family and all that is familiar for an opportunity to serve in the Israeli army. There are also more than 1500 Israeli lone soldiers who come from impoverished families or are estranged from their parents and receive assistance.
Lt. Colonel Tzvika Levy (Ret) of the Tzanchanim (Paratroopers) unit has assumed the role of family, mentor and confidante. For more than 25 years his official job has been to work with soldiers assigned to live on kibbutzim, providing them with a place to call home on their days off (soldiers in the IDF are generally off on Shabbat and are able to go home to their families). Tzvika has developed a network that now includes 137 kibbutzim that are home to over 900 lone soldiers. His compassion for these soldiers knows no bounds — they are treated as if they were his own family. In addition to finding them homes on kibbutzim, Tzvika is often asked to provide simple but important items for his charges — fans, shavers, fleece jackets or heaters — whatever it takes to make them more comfortable. He serves as an intermediary between the soldiers and their commands, helping them to be placed in the right unit and obtain the proper assignments, a role that extends beyond those placed on kibbutzim to all lone soldiers who need his help while serving in the IDF.
A typical week for Tzvika includes an average of 150 phone calls a day from soldiers, commanders and parents while logging 1000 miles a week as he traverses the country from base to base. Tzvika’s mission is to take these young men and women under his wings and ease their journey through the army.