To many of the Israeli Defense Forces’ lone soldiers (servicemen and women without parents in Israel), Lt. Col. Tzvika Levy is more than just an advocate. He is — in a lot of ways — a father figure.
Starting as a volunteer, Levy said he has worked with these soldiers for decades, creating a network of kibbutzim for the young men and women who are without any close family nearby to call home.
The IDF, Levy said, can be a very difficult place for a young person, especially a young person with no family close to support him or her. As a result, his time with lone soldiers is split between helping them with things like acquiring fans, refrigerators and warm clothes and with simply assuring them that everything is going to be all right.
“It’s a shock,” said Levy. “Within minutes of putting your uniform on, things are 100 percent different.”
Levy said he works an average of 17 hours a day taking soldiers’ calls and walking from place to place to meet with them or help them. On weekdays, he said he talks to about 15 soldiers or families of soldiers a day, but on Fridays and Sundays that number skyrockets to 200 or more.
His name and phone number pass from soldier to soldier in the IDF, as well as among the families of lone soldiers. He has even taken calls from families that speak no English or Hebrew but just wanted to hear his voice and know that their child is being cared for.
Despite the long hours and the emotional stress, Levy said he is completely committed to the lone soldiers he helps. At the end of the day, he said, “the good of the army is the good of Israel.”
On Oct. 30, Levy will travel to Baltimore to kick off a U.S. fundraising campaign to benefit his charity Tzvika Levy’s Lone Soldiers, which operates in this country under The Good People Fund. He will first address teens at Beth Tifiloh Dahan Community School on Nov. 1 and then hold another discussion at 8 p.m. on Nov. 2 in the form of an open-house parlor meeting hosted by Eddie Rogers and local families of lone soldiers at a private home in Pikesville.
For more information about Levy or how to attend one these events, contact Rogers at Levy’s kibbutz and arranged for Levy’s Baltimore visit. Rogers can be reached for RSVP at email@example.com or 410-746-2324.
Heather Norris is a JT staff reporter