GARIN TZABAR PARENTS
Tzofim Garin Tzabar is a unique program for lone soldiers, founded in 1991 with the support of the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption and other Israeli government institutions. Garin Tzabar members are Jewish Americans and children of Israelis living in the Diaspora, who choose to move to Israel and serve in the IDF. Upon their arrival in Israel, the group is adopted by the Israel Scouts and placed in a hosting kibbutz that quickly becomes their home away from home throughout the duration of their army service.
Age: 17-23 for females; 17-24 for males *must turn 18 before draft
Education: Minimum of High School diploma
Certificate of Good Conduct (No Prior Criminal Record)
Commitment to Participate in the Program, as defined in the admissions packet
Prior visits to Israel, or life in Israel for an accumulated time of two months or more
Participation in the seminar
Basic level of Hebrew
1. Preparation: The first stage is highly informative, working on group dynamics and relationship building. In the beginning of the process, the seminars are open to anyone who is considering the program and fills all of the basic admission requirements. Participants in this stage are not required to commit to continued participation in the program.
In addition to imparting information and group building, this is also a screening stage focusing on individual interviews and close examination of each member's place in the program. We examine each member's suitability to the program and the specific Garin group being formed. All Garin Tzabar members must participate in a minimum number of seminars, as set by regional directors, including the last seminar in the process in which a final approval for each applicant.
*The Garin Dati is Sabbath observant, prays together, and the food is certified Kosher. In the secular Garinim, the food is Kosher-style (with vegetarian options) and not Shabbat observant.
2. Absorption Process: This stage begins the Garin Tzabar program in Israel and extends until initiation into the army. During the absorption process, the Garin members live on a Kibbutz, undergo intense educational programs including Hebrew Ulpan, and participate in group trips, lectures, and more. The Garin members partake in many social activities and outings, are given leadership opportunities, and prepare a Garin mission statement to ultimately create a unified body that can provide a supportive, familial atmosphere for Garin participants.
The Garin Director accompanies and guides the Garin while living among members on the Kibbutz, becoming the overall authoritative and supportive figure for participants. Each Garin member is also provided with a host family, and Garin participants often join Kibbutz youth in various activities and programs. Members take on a part-time role in Kibbutz responsibilities, to build relationships with Kibbutz members and to become a part of Kibbutz life.
During this time, Garin members work with a special IDF unit, in preparation for their army service. The participants are guided through the administrative bureaucratic process that leads to acceptance and promotion through the IDF. In addition, Garin members are categorized as "Lone Soldiers," providing them with further funding throughout the army service. Army coordinators instruct Garin members on army structure, history, ranks, legal system, rights and obligations of soldiers, and military terminology. Participants then spend a week in Gadna army training camp, which takes place on an army base and teaches members about the history of Israeli combat. They also undergo physical preparation with certified trainers. During this stage, Garin members also participate in Ulpan, to build a solid foundation and accessible use of the Hebrew language, while learning more about Israeli history, geography, and culture, and fully acclimating to life in the State of Israel.
*Religious Garin goes to religious Kibbutz in Israel
3. Army Service: Garin Tzabar members are required to commit to serving a minimum of 24 months, even if the army offers a Garin member a service shorter in length due to his/her age. Two years are required to reach meaningful service tracks in the Israeli army, and also set a minimum timeframe for the Garin as a group, helping to maintain the warm support system the Garin is to its members.
During military service, three seminars take place each year for Garin members. These seminars take place during three weekends (Thu-Fri), with the goal of being able to release all members of the Garin from their various units for the fun, educational bonding opportunities with their Garin.
Towards the end of the Garin members' army service, there will be a 'Release from the Army' seminar, where the Garin members will have the chance to hear about the different options they will have once they are released (work, school, and more).
Garin Staff and Army Officials have a unique relationship, as a result of which Garin Staff does its best to assist members in reaching the units and service tracks they desire. However, we cannot gaurantee that this will have any ultimate influence over placement.
Garin members complete a full army service like any other Israeli.
* Please note: Coming to the first seminar is not a commitment we suggest to people who are questioning their decision, to come to the first seminar and decide what to do, and if they are still not sure they should come to the 2nd seminar.
Seminars are in hotels and organized camps
Events have guidance and security staff
The seminars have two guides – male and female, they will be in touch with parents and Garin members through the whole preparation process
2nd seminar: we invite an army delegation that will interview the Garin Tzabar future members and we will do with you and them a parents’ meeting
4th seminar: we invite the Kibbutzim and host cities’ coordinators and they will meet the future gt members and have another parents’ meeting with them as well
Connection between the parents and the program will be with a coordinator from Israel
Each group has a Rakaz Garin, whose job it is to ensure that the GT members have everything they need in their Kibbutzim and new homes: laundry, food, medical care, anything they need
Each group has a Madricha Chevratit, who will organize social activities between the Garin members
Each group has two Mashakiot Tzabar (who provide help to GT members in the army process, Ulpan, and personal support)
Each group has an Ulpan teacher during the absorption process
Each Garin member will be paired up with a host family from the Kibbutz who will host the Garin member in their home and be a “2nd family to them” (go to army ceremonies, etc.)
REGISTRATION: A $25 non-refundable one-time fee is required from all applicants during admissions.
PREPARATION: Each participant is required to pay $160 for each seminar. Registration and payment for each seminar is done separately, up to two weeks before the seminar.
ISRAEL PROGRAM FEE: The total costs of each Garin member are around $8,000 from the day of arrival in Israel to the day he/she is released from the IDF. MASA - a joint initiative of the State of Israel and the Jewish Agency for promotion of long-term programs in Israel - covers most of these costs, and thanks to this support scholarship is guaranteed to all Garin members who appropriately fill out the MASA application packet (as discussed during seminars). As such, the Israel Programs Fee is waived.
For those members who are not entitled to the MASA scholarship, payment required is only $950, covering a security deposit for the Kibbutz to ensure an apartment, as well as educational activities and preparation.
** EXTRA ABSORPTION ULPAN: During the preparation process we conduct Hebrew language exams (including face-to-face interviews and literacy tests). If after the 3rd or the 4th seminar, we decide that one of the future Garin members will need to go to the Beginners’ Ulpan, he will have to do this before the Garin goes to the Kibbutz. This Ulpan will cost $1000 (the price of the regular Ulpan that everyone does, is included in the $950 Israel Program Fee). Those who will need this extra Hebrew training will fly to Israel 2 months before the rest of the group
Insurance in Israel
Any Oleh Chadash or Ezrach Chozer gets health insurance from the country. We organize it during the first week of the program, with Clalit Insurance Service. For the first week in Israel, insurance is your own responsibility to make sure there is personally-organized private insurance. If someone is not an Oleh Chadash or an Ezrach Chozer, they will have to pay for their own insurance (97% of our Garin Tzabar members get the insurance from the company, and we help them to organize it).
*We do not provide insurance for the seminars - your own personal insurance must cover that.
Guidance for Parents
We see you, the parents, as partners in the process. Additionally, we understand that is sometimes difficult and complicated to be parents of future Garin members, and even more so of Garin soldiers in Israel. GT is a 30 yo program and during this time we have had a lot of parents who will be happy to talk to you, to help you, and provide support to you. We would be happy to connect you with this network of support if you would like – please ask.
Q & A
Q: Is Garin Tzabar just for Israelis or Tzofim members?
A: No. It is for Jews, and though Hebrew lanugage proficiency is required, we will help.
Q: If my son goes to the 1st seminar, is he committed to the IDF or to making Aliyah?
A: No, he is just committed to attending the 1st seminar.
Q: Is the food on Garin Tzabar seminars Kosher?
A: All food on Religious Garin (Garin Dati) seminars is certified Kosher. Food for non-religious Garin seminars is "Kosher Style" with vegetarian options - if you are not sure, talk about this with your Garin director.
Q: Who chooses the Kibbutz/city, and when?
A: The program chooses the host locations, depending on the size of the group, the character of the group, and other defining details. This is done before the last seminar, but there are no guarantees that it will be set then.
Q: What is the difference between the Garin Tzabar application and the Aliyah application?
A: They are two different procedures that need to be done. The Aliyah process begins on the Nefesh B'Nefesh website, and is for the Jewish Agency and Nefesh B'Nefesh. The Garin Tzabar application is on our website, and is of the same importance. The two procedures may take some time, including medical reports, references, and other forms that we request.
Q: Who is our contact person during this process?
A: During the Preparation Process, your contacts are the guides in the North America offices (see map).
After the last seminar, your contacts are the coordinators in Israel – the Rakaz Kibbutz and the Rakaz Garin. While the Garin Tzabar members are in Israel, you may contact the Israeli directors, and we in the North America offices are available to speak with you as well.
Q: How and when do we see our children after they make Aliyah? Can they visit America? Can we visit them in Israel?
A: Each Lone Soldier has thirty days of vacation every year. He/She can split it maximum into two trips: 15 days each. During the first year, you can use it to come visit them in Israel, or you can buy them a ticket to visit you in America. It is important to schedule it with their commander and retain permission from the commander. After the first year in the army, usually Lone Soldiers get around 80% of those ticket costs from Friends of the IDF (FIDF), but this is not guaranteed. If you want to come visit your Lone Soldier in Israel, you must schedule it with their Rakaz Kibbutz and they need to schedule it with their army commanders.
Q: For how long are the GT members committed to the Kibbutz? How often can they visit friends and family in Israel?
A: The GT members are committed to the Kibbutz for one year minimum, which begins the day they join the army (not the day they land in Israel). Usually, they decide to stay in the Kibbutz for more time, they feel the
Kibbutz is their home, and they want to stay as part of the group. If they want they can go to another city after one year, on their own. During their time in Israel, they can visit friends and family. During the Absorption process, they can schedule their weekends off for the longer-term with their Rakaz. During their army service, they can do it when they are off from the army on weekends, and even though it must be with permission from the Rakaz and not more than 50% of their army weekends. It is very important for us to keep the group together.