Joining the IDF is a big decision, and preparation is key. There are several different ways to prepare, with the big three goals coming to the forefront. The three main areas all future Lone Soldiers should spend some prep time are as follows: Hebrew language skills, mental fortitude, and physical fitness.

No matter where in the IDF you serve, whether as an aircraft technician or in a special forces unit, these three skills will prove necessary to varying degrees, and your command of them will greatly benefit your service. Several different types of programs exist with the aim of improving these crucial skills prior to drafting into the army, in the form of Mechinot and Ulpanim.

A Mechina is a pre-army program that can last anywhere from several months to most of a year. There are many different Mechinot, each with its own flavor, goals, student base, and routine. While most are geared towards Israelis and native Hebrew speakers and tend to usually focus on the mental and physical preparation for the IDF, there are several that cater to new immigrants and Hebrew learning.

One of the big benefits of making Aliyah is the chance to learn Hebrew in a highly subsidized manner. An Ulpan is a full time Hebrew course, and like Mechinot, there are several different styles. Some Ulpanim are located in the major cities, and allow for an urban lifestyle, and others are located on various kibbutzim throughout the country. Attending a Kibbutz Ulpan program is one of the most popular options for future Lone Soldiers, as it combines five months of Hebrew study, work on a kibbutz, and a great social atmosphere. 

For more information on mechinot you can check out the organization’s website

Below are some helpful links to different Mechinot and Ulpanim.