IDF Mahal or Aliyah?

There are two ways to join the IDF:

What is Mahal in the IDF?

Mahal – for non Israeli citizens or Israeli citizens that have not lived in Israel for more than 4 months or were in a recognized program in Israel for more than a year after the age of 10. more information regarding the qualifications see Faq. IMPORTANT – recently Mahal has changed the draft procedure and added new requirements.

The enlistment dates and deadlines for Mahal change annually. The earlier you start the better. Generally, there are 3 drafts a year December, April, and August. You should start the registration draft before your preferred enlistment date. For example, if you want to draft in August then start the process in the beginning of April. Each draft has registration deadlines. The deadlines will be publicized at the beginning of each year via Mahal’s website mahal.org.il. Mahal is the fast track into the IDF. Within 3 months of your registration you will be in uniform.

Aliyah – Becoming an Israeli Citizen. Once you become an Israeli citizen the normal waiting period can be anywhere from 4 months to a year depending on how hard you push. Of course there are exceptions.

MAHAL IDF Volunteers

Step 1: Fillout and submit the Google Doc –  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSf4Tg28vGDFYq1OE-tgejhIvxHQ_Ha-pVBk2u5BFR8Lo2Wlfw/viewform?c=0&w=1

Once you have submitted the Google doc, a representative from the Mahal office will respond to you via email. If you do not hear from them after two weeks, contact us and we will clarify if they received your application. Recently, there have been many cases of individuals that submitted their application and continued to wait for a response until they missed the deadline for the draft. Be on the ball and contact us after 2 weeks if you do not receive a response.

Step 2: Submitting all the required documents individually in PDF format to the Mahal department – [email protected] 

If you do receive a response, then they will request from you to submit the following documents: Do not cut corners comply with all of their requests!

  – Original Birth Certificate

  – Valid Passport for at least 2 years from your desired draft date

  – Medical Form (you must use the official medical form for Mahal) Mahal Medical Form

  – Confirmation letter stating that you are Jewish and your Mother or Father is Jewish, signed by a rabbi residing outside of Israel. The confirmation must be written on official stationery with a  detailed letterhead including the name of the Jewish community, address, phone, fax, and e-mail. The exact name of the rabbi must be clearly readable.  Click here to see a sample letter.

  – Mahal Application Form – Mahal Application Form – Non Israeli Volunteer

    Mahal Application Form – Israeli Volunteer

  – Letter from a notary stating that you are not an only child (if you are planning on serving in combat) – Bring your siblings’ birth certificates to a notary and have him write a letter affirming that you have siblings and are not an only child. 

  – Criminal background check/Criminal History check/letter of good standing – different names to the same letter + Apostille stamp

For the US: You are required to obtain a Federal criminal background check (with Apostille certification). Please see details here: https://www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/identity-history-summary-checks

For Canada: You are required to obtain a certified criminal record check. As Canada is not a member of The Hague Convention the documents will need to be sent to the Israeli consulate for legalization.

Please see details herehttps://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/en/steps-getting-a-certified-criminal-record-check

For the UK: you are required to obtain an ACRO police check (with Apostille certification): https://www.acro.police.uk/police_certificates.aspx

For Australiahttps://www.afp.gov.au/what-we-do/services/criminal-records/national-police-checks

For South Africa:https://www.saps.gov.za/services/applying_clearence_certificate.php

*If you are an Israeli Citizen i.e. at least one of your parents has Israeli citizenship, then you only need an Israeli Passport and the medical form. 

If you are the child of an Israeli and do not have an Israeli Passport then your Israeli parent/s needs to report to the Israeli consulate and claim you as their child. In order to claim you they will need to bring your birth certificate with an apostille stamp. When you request a passport it is important to tell them that you do not want a tuedat zehut only a passport. If you receive a tuedat zehut then you have made Aliyah and are ineligible for Mahal. Please contact us if you need help receiving a Passport. On the passport, there will be a tuedat zehut number but that is not considered a tuedat zehut in regards to residency i.e. making aliyah.

Step 3: Interview with the Ministry of Defense (MOD)

Mahal will send you a date to arrive in Israel for an interview. Mazal tov! If you made it this far then you are on your way. The next step is to purchase a ticket and arrive in Israel for your interview.

You will need to bring with you all the original copies of the documents in step 2 of the interview.

Step 4: Tzav Rishon

Await your “Tzav Rishon” – once your papers have been sent to the IDF, the enlistment unit “Meitav” will review and check your papers before approving them and opening your file with the IDF. This process can usually take from a week to a month. You need to have patience. When your papers have been approved you will receive a date to for your “Tzav Rishon” where you will take medical and intelligence tests to determine which units you are fit for.

Step 5: Pre Army Program

In order to enlist, you must participate in a pre army program. Upon completion of the pre army program the staff of the program in which you attended will submit an evaluation of you to the Ministry of Defense. A negative report will disqualify you from the draft.

There are a few options for pre army programs that are recognized by the Ministry of Defense and fulfill your obligation of attending a pre-army program. 

– Any year long mechina program in Israel like Keshet

– Garin Mahal’s intense 6 week pre army program (offered only in the summer)

If you do not participate in one of the two program above Mahal will automatically place you in their 4 week pre army program.

It is possible to contact Mahal via phone or email – 03-6084502 / 03-6084506 / [email protected] / [email protected]

If you are having trouble contacting the Mahal office do not hesitate to WhatsApp Baruch at Garin Mahal – 972-52-860-0062 for assistance.


You can begin the draft process once you receive a tuedat zehut. The IDF will not call you to the draft office until a  year after making aliya. If you want to expedite the process then you need to go to the draft office and sign a statement claiming that you want to forgo the 1 year grace period before your draft. At the draft office ask to speak to the Mashak Olim he/she is an individual appointed to assist all new citizens of Israel. You will receive a Tzav Rishon usually between a week to 2 weeks afterward. If you need any help with the enlistment process please do not hesitate to WhatsApp Baruch at Garin Mahal – 972528600062

This information was taken from GarinMahal.com