The Knesset Launches Caucus for Strengthening the Jewish People and Adopts Wings Program to Support Lone Soldiers Who Serve in the IDF from Around the World

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The Knesset Caucus for Strengthening the Jewish People, led by MK Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud) and MK Dr. Nachman Shai (Labor) in partnership with The Jewish Agency for Israel, was launched last week at the Knesset. A new initiative by Knesset Members to adopt lone soldiers was also launched during the event, to mark the 10th Anniversary of the Wings Program, a joint initiative between The Jewish Agency and the Merage Foundations.

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David Merage pictured with ‘Wings’ lone soldiers.

We are extremely pleased to have been a part of the journey of the Wings Program. Not only has the growth of the program been encouraging, but the impact of the program on lone soldiers and their families has been truly inspirational.

Last week, the Knesset launched a brand new caucus which will be known as the Caucus for Strengthening the Jewish People. As the largest in the Knesset with 46 members from all parties, caucus members will promote matters of mutual concern to Israel and the Jewish world via legislation and dialogue between lawmakers and Jewish leaders. A particular emphasis will be placed on strengthening connections between Jewish young people and the State of Israel and their Jewish identity.

A new initiative by Knesset Members to adopt lone soldiers – individuals without immediate family in Israel – was also launched during the event to mark the 10th Anniversary of the Wings Program, a joint initiative between The Jewish Agency and the Merage Foundations. The Wings Program accompanies new immigrants during their military service and helps them take their first steps as civilians following their discharge from active duty. As part of this new initiative, MKs from across the political spectrum will adopt lone soldiers who come to serve in the IDF from around the world as leaders have called on every member of Knesset to adopt a lone soldier. Both Tzachi Hanegbi, and Nachman Shai (Likud) have agreed to be among the first to embrace the program and adopt lone soldiers.

In a survey conducted among graduates of the Wings Program, it was discovered that 90% of IDF volunteers move to Israel permanently after their service. Wings was developed to help ease the soldiers’ integration into civilian life and prepare them to live independently by providing them with guidance on financial matters, employment, and academic studies.

David Merage, founder of the Merage Foundations, said, “We are extremely pleased to have been a part of the journey of the Wings Program. Not only has the growth of the program been encouraging, but the impact of the program on lone soldiers and their families has been truly inspirational. Wings was created when we identified a need to support lone immigrant soldiers and ease their transition out of military service. From workshops on higher education opportunities to lessons on navigating the systems for accessing national insurance payments to learning to read a rental contract, our goal has always been to prepare these young people for Israeli life after their service. And, today, I am so very proud of the work we have done, and am excited that the number of lone soldiers is increasing and the Wings program is growing to meet the demand,” David added.

About the Merage Foundations
Promoting self-sufficiency through education and community development, the foundation supports programs in the U.S and Israel that are focused on social change and result in children, families and communities improving the quality and circumstances of their lives. David & Laura Merage believe that education is the gateway to optimal life outcomes. The mission of the Andre and Katherine Merage Foundation is the growth and prosperity of Israel. For more information, please visit http://www.merage.org.

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Merage Foundations
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