What do the soldiers say about us?
I made Aliyah from San Francisco and served in the army as a combat soldier in Sayeret Golani (special forces). I lived at the Bayit for 2 years, from the very beginning that the Bayit opened its doors. When I came for my initial visit, I was amazed at the amount of personal investment that was put into the Bayit. Everything here is set up so well to make the soldiers’ short weekends as worry free and fulfilling as possible, so that as much as possible, they are not lacking neither friends nor family. Meals, laundry, a place to sleep, entertainment room, and a great group of friends are waiting for you when you come home for the weekend. This place becomes your Real Home almost instantly. The soldiers are surrounded by unbelievable volunteers who come to take care of every possible need, and they love being here, which makes it all the more so a pleasant environment.
The lone soldier really has many voids that need to be filled since he/she is away from home, friends, and family. The Bayit shel Benji fills all of them magnificently. Additionally, the Bayit provides an awesome service for released soldiers, which is the on-campus Guidance Center. I am making use of it today. The Center is open to all released soldiers. Among other things, the Center provides the soldier with a mentor (or life coach) who assists the released soldier in everything from finding housing, applying for work, writing a resume, applying for school, etc, basically in anything that one needs to adjust to civilian life.
I want to thank the Bayit shel Benji for providing me a Real Home during my military service.
Before I moved to HaBayit shel Benji, coming home from the army was like starting a countdown. I knew I’d be back on base very quickly, and actual time to do anything is really just about 24 hours more or less without counting sleep. I always had to worry about how early I would be dismissed from base, so that I would have enough time to buy food for Shabbat or the next few days and also have enough time to launder my clothes.
And obviously I wanted to do nothing more than sleep and relax. All of this took away from the normal relax time in which one licks their wounds, and has some fun with friends. It was mentally exhausting.
HaBayit shel Benji is nothing less than a God send for Lone Soldiers.
It was the place I could call my one and only true home in Israel. There, I didn’t have to worry about what time I’d make it back to base, or buying food, or washing my uniform and clothes, because dedicated volunteers provided breakfast, lunch, and dinner and did our laundry!
We were taken care of and I breathed the breath of relaxation. The Bayit was for me, my fortress of solitude. A place I could be alone, lick my wounds, and think to myself in peace and comfort.
HaBayit shel Benji is a very warm and good place for soldiers, especially for combat soldiers.
Living in the Bayit has helped to reduce lots of everyday problems which has enabled me to progress. Without the help and support I would not have been able to get to where I am today (officer’s school).
From the beginning the atmosphere in the Bayit was good and welcoming. I particularly remember Friday night meals which were warm and like being in a family.
Even though everyone has friends from before, we will always remember the time we spent together in HaBayit shel Benji.
I am indebted to an amazing woman by the name of Eti (from the Benji Hillman Foundation Guidance Center). Eti helped me tremendously when I was in need of financial assistance. I didn't need monetary help since that is a temporary solution. I needed a long-term solution, one that involved understanding how to relate to money and how to defer gratification.
The organization helped me by introducing me to Eti and giving me the tools to learn to live within my means, that is, not to deviate from my monthly income. In addition, I was taught how to avoid going into overdraft, yet still manage to have fun like all young people should.
The Baayit shel Benji organization has been there for me the whole way. Any question I have is answered, and the help is not a one-time event but rather ongoing for as long as is needed.
I moved back to Israel to start school, after being released from the army for a year. Civilian life in Israel was nothing like being a soldier. The bureaucracy seemed to pile up, I had to finish registration and enrollment in school, find and furnish an apartment, pass the Hebrew requirement, apply for scholarships, register with Misrad Haklitah, and a laundry list of other affairs I had no idea how to approach. Fred and Garin Tzabar referred me to the Benji Hillman Foundation because of prior experience they had working with the foundation. Dana immediately met with me and paired me up with a mentor to help me get through the list that stood between me and a successful start of the school year. My amazing mentor Tami, happened to work in the faculty at Ben Gurion University where I was planning on studying. She helped me with all administrative affairs I had to resolve with the enrollment office. Tami always welcomed me in her office, stopping everything to help even with things that are completely unrelated to the lone soldier program. She also organized a donation of appliances for my apartment (a brand new laundry machine and dryer) and contacted friends in the city offices so they could help speed up the piles of paperwork I sent them. I am eternally indebted to her for the warmth, help and advice I received through it all. Today, I am in the middle of the first semester. All of the obstacles are behind me and I'm finally settled in, thanks to all help and patience from the foundation.
To be released from the army and to move into civilian life is not as easy as it seems or as you dream about constantly while on the base.
I am a new immigrant from Brazil and I had the privilege of living in HaBayit shel Benji and getting to know the amazing people who work so hard on a daily basis so that this place can exist.
I was released in February 2014 from Golani Brigade (Battalion 51) and since then every step I take has been with the help of my mentor who is there to point me in the right direction, from the most challenging changes to the simplest questions. I met my mentor through the Guidance Centre in HaBayit shel Benji, where they started helping me even before my release from service.
Today I have found a flat, furniture and work and I am planning to study next year. All these things were made possible with the assistance of the Guidance Centre and my mentor. And this is just the beginning!
I emigrated from Canada two & a half years ago. I joined the army as a fighter in Nachal in an infantry division. I lived in various places, with my Grandmother, in a home for soldiers and on a kibbutz, but there was one place that I stayed in from the moment I got there, because I could never find another place like it- and that was HaBayit shel Benji.
I have lived there since it opened. When I got here it was still quite empty. There were 10 soldiers in the house. Gradually the number of soldiers and volunteers in the house increased. The feeling was amazing. A real feeling of Home and each soldier or volunteer who joined us made me happy as it showed how many people worried and cared about us personally, as we had left our own home (abroad) and our parents to come and serve in the IDF.
For a long time now the house has been full of soldiers, all fighters, both boys and girls and when my friends come home (to HaBayit shel Benji of course) it is great to learn about each unit and what it does. We established a new family; we went out together, to parties, to the beach or just sat out in the garden and chatted or spent time together in the club room downstairs playing snooker.
Now I have been released from the army and I have left the Bayit. There are several things that I got from the Bayit, friends who will be my family forever, guidance for my new road in life from all the staff and volunteers and the most important thing love and nostalgia for them all.
For the months prior to my release, I received a guidance programme from Dana Barzilai who manages the Guidance Centre. This was to help me in the transition from army to civilian life. Dana met me to get to know me better and to understand my future plans, my dilemmas and to decide which mentor would be most suitable for me. At that meeting we built the program and a few days later Dana came back to me & introduced me to my mentor, Ishai Zarum. He is an amazing man who keeps in touch with me, checks to see how I am and how we can work together effectively so I will take the right path after my release. This includes writing resumes, choosing a job, daily life etc.
Today I can say I am a more responsible, independent and disciplined person. All this is due to the help I have received in HaBayit shel Benji and in the Guidance Centre.
I would like to thank the staff at the Bayit, my mentor and all my good friends who were there with me & for me all along the way.
I served in the army for three years as a combat soldier in the Border Police. During my service I was recognized as a lone solder. As such, I had to move residences several times within a short period of time.
I got to know Beit HaHayal (the soldier’s house run by the Friends of the IDF), I saw an apartment arranged for by the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel's Soldiers (HaAguda Lema'an HaHayal) and I was shocked and upset over the conditions there.
After these unpleasant experiences, my welfare NCO mentioned HaBayit shel Benji to me. From what she told me, it sounded like a dream, something not real. I agreed to try and move into the Bayit, despite my fear that there too I would not feel comfortable.
A week later I was settled in the Bayit. From day one I felt as though this was my home. I met amazing and loving people: the staff, the volunteers, the National Service girls and the soldiers already living there. The atmosphere was indescribable – I could not believe that such a place existed. The home itself is beautiful. It has everything I needed: delicious food, lovingly prepared by volunteers, a bedroom that was always clean and tidy, a club room where I could hang out with other soldiers and watch TV, staff that loves and cares for everyone, endless orders of pizza J, fun weekends that were organized especially for us … and many other things.
What surprised and moved me the most was the help and support I received towards the end of my army service and of course after I finished. This is when I met Dalia …of the Guidance Center, an amazing woman. She came to meet with me, to ask questions so as to get to know me better and to start helping me. Dalia knows a lot and, if necessary, she knows who I should approach. She has helped me greatly with registering for my studies; with her help, I eventually reached a decision regarding what exactly to study, and she is guiding me every step of the way. This has helped me immensely as I was very confused and became stressed over not knowing how to go about things.
And not only this: When the time comes to leave the Bayit, Dalia and the Center also helps in finding an apartment and in checking out the smallest things; she doesn't leave you to cope with life outside of the army on your own. Thanks to Dalia, I received lots of equipment for my apartment, such as furniture, crockery, electrical appliances – all the basic things one needs in a home and more. The amount of money this saved me is unbelievable. These are things that lone soldiers cannot possibly acquire straight after they finish their army service – the expense is just too great. Because of Dalia, my new home lacks nothing. She makes contact with kind and generous people who are willing to donate items, and I always think about these people and thank them with all my heart for everything.
Nearly five months have passed since I left HaBayit shel Benji, and to this day I still receive advice and support. And it's not only me: there are many soldiers like me who have been lucky to know Dalia and benefit from her help. She is simply a wonderful person; there aren't many people like her and I appreciate her immensely. I like to tell people about what the Guidance Center has done for me, and they can hardly believe their ears. It indeed sounds unreal, but I assure them I am serious, and I will continue to tell others about the Center's existence. If I meet a lone soldier who needs any kind of help, I will highly recommend the Guidance Center.