Apartments and basic needs – Osey Chail’s twenty apartments across Israel are home to over 70 lone soldiers from Haredi backgrounds. Each soldier is provided with his or her own room in a fully furnished apartment, which houses 3-4 soldiers. The soldiers arrive home and find the refrigerator full, the bills paid, and all their basic needs met, including sheets, towels, pillows, blankets and toiletries. Twice a year, Osey Chail provides the soldiers with a clothing gift card, enabling them to purchase clothing, underwear and other necessary items that they cannot afford otherwise on a small army stipend.
Adoptive families – Each apartment has an accompanying local family living nearby and a supportive community. The family and community members act as an emotional support system for the soldiers. Each soldier knows he always welcome in the family home for meals on Shabbat, holidays during the week, or just to spend time surrounded by the ordinary noise and warmth of a family. Army ceremonies can be lonely affairs for lone soldiers, as they see their fellow soldiers surrounded and celebrated by family. The adoptive families, along with Osey Chail staff and volunteers, attend these ceremonies and uplift the lone soldier’s spirit. Osey Chail and the adoptive families offer a helping hand and open ears, giving the soldiers a true sense of family – someone to turn to in times of crisis and joy, someone who will be there at critical moments.
Psychological support – Lone soldiers from Haredi backgrounds, having gone through the trauma of being expelled from their family homes and communities, are generally in need of psychological support. Some of the soldiers we support, come from dysfunctional or abusive homes. The IDF’s mental health division often refers soldiers to therapy, however most aren’t ready or willing to seek help from the army psychologists. Osey Chail currently contracts with three psychologists who specialize in counseling soldiers from Haredi backgrounds. We are in the process of expanding our mental health services, as demand is growing. Later this year, in partnership with other nonprofit organizations, we will be launching a mentorship and personal coaching program, along with a series of workshops that teach life skills. Finally, when appropriate and safe, we work with the soldier and their biological parents to promote reconciliation. Healing looks different for each soldier and our ultimate goal is, always, to support our soldiers.
Post-Army Preparation – Crucial to their successful integration into society after the IDF service is the need to provide them with the academic foundation so often missing in the lives of these charedi soldiers. Unlike their peers who come from non-charedi backgrounds, they did not graduate high school with a matriculation certificate awarding them a ticket to the world of academia and employment. Having been educated in the Charedi school system, they often have significant deficits in Math, Science, English, Writing, Computer Science, and other secular subjects. Osey Chail is partnering with other organizations to help bridge the gap by helping these chayalim study in a program, with the goal of being accepted into university thereafter. Osey Chail pays the tuition not covered by the army benefits that some other soldiers receive, covers living expenses so they can focus on their studies and provides educational support to help them be successful in passing the high school equivalency exams. In addition, Osey Chail is launching a collaboration with another non-profit to offer employment training and skills-building, to support our soldiers’ employment readiness and financial independence.
Trips and ceremonies – Twice a year, the soldiers go on group vacations, so they can relax from the pressures of army service and see more of Israel. We take care of all the logistics, so the soldiers can enjoy, bond, and feel appreciated. Also, three of our soldiers got married (Mazal Tov!). As the birth family has cut off contact, we provided a modest wedding scholarship in each case, to help cover wedding expenses.