Meet Yossi Kuttler

Being a Lone Soldier has felt like coming home to Yossi Kuttler, a Baltimorean who joined the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) a year ago.

This 19-year-old  Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School graduate, who speaks eloquently about the Israeli culture and people, says he never really questioned making this commitment to the Jewish State. 

Yossi, whose family lives in Baltimore, was drafted into a Paratroopers Combat Unit in August. He is currently completing basic training. He was officially sworn in this week – his parents flew in for this honor – and following advanced training will become a combat soldier.

There are approximately 5,700 lone soldiers currently serving today. They come from all over the word and enlist despite having no family in Israel to help them out. The Associated, through its overseas partner The Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), supports the Lone Soldier program. 

The seeds for Yossi’s commitment were first planted during a senior class trip to Israel when Yossi and several classmates began discussing the idea. It was further aided by the selflessness he saw from the Israelis.

“It’s such a small country and everyone cares about the community. You walk down the street and you know everyone serves, whether it’s in combat or behind a desk. The country is completely behind them.”

He compares it to a large family, recalling how the entire Maccabi Tel Aviv team representatives came to visit his friend Jordan, when he was in the hospital recovering from the Gaza conflict. Although they had not met him before, they brought him gifts.

He points to the fact that the soldiers always eat well and that the Israeli citizens make a point to bring food to those fighting in the back lines. Or the time a soldier from the kibbutz he was living in was killed and the entire kibbutz turned out to his funeral, even those that didn’t know him.

“Israel is such a small country that when something happens the entire country is put on pause,” Yossi says, pointing to this past summer when Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah were kidnapped and later found murdered.

Despite his love for the country, being a Lone Solider can be difficult at times. Although he took immersive Hebrew before he was drafted, there are times when he may not understand the language. Being away from family can make be lonely.

But Yossi says the commanders and other soldiers make a point of looking out for him. He’s been invited for Shabbat dinner multiple times and helped out when he has a problem with the language. He also enjoys getting together with other Lone Soldiers, talking easily in his native language.

“It was hard the first few weeks I was in the field, but I’ve never had one regret. I love Israel, its openness and welcoming attitude and I am honored to serve and be a part of it.”

 

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