Sol Kikuchi, 20, was raised in the Tokyo suburb of Hachioji and until recently had never visited Israel. But one year ago, he experienced a transformation that brought him to the country, and on Wednesday he will enlist in the Israel Defense Forces as a lone soldier.
- Fulfilling his dream to serve in the IDF, Sol Kikuchi – Photo: Danny Brenner
“My father is an American Jew whose parents immigrated to the U.S. from Poland and Germany, and there he met my mother, a Japanese Buddhist,” Kikuchi said. “I was born in the U.S., but when I was 3 years old, my parents moved to Japan, and we have lived there since.”
After completing high school, Kikuchi began studying law, and wanted to make a career in the Japanese police or armed forces.
“That was my original plan, but I realized it was not for me,” he said. “Then I discovered I could serve as a lone soldier in the Israeli army. I heard about Israel and the Israel Defense Forces, and I was always captivated and compelled by what I heard, but I did not know that was a dream I could fulfill.”
According to Kikuchi, he studied up on Israel and the military and “I knew it was exactly what I want to do. I turned to the relevant organizations and came to Israel to serve in the IDF.”
The journey was not easy. Kikuchi had to prove both that his father was Jewish, and that he was Kikuchi’s father.
“I took the painstaking effort to bring all the forms and documents so that I could fulfill my dream,” he said.
“For now I have been adopted by Kibbutz Hazorea, and live there as a volunteer. Tzvika Levy, who is in charge of all the lone soldiers in the kibbutzim, helped me overcome the obstacles and did everything so that I would feel at home.
“I will begin my military service studying Hebrew at the Michveh Alon base, but its clear to me that I want to continue from there to be a combat soldier. If I am serving I might as well go all the way and serve in a combat unit like the Paratroopers Brigade.
“My friends are supportive, though in Japan they do not really like Israel. Once I finish basic training, my parents will come to Israel for the first time and I will see them.”
After two years, Kikuchi will have to decide whether to make aliyah and take Israeli citizenship.
“Young adults like Sol are Israel’s best ambassadors, especially with for countries where the Jewish population is small and they do not know Israel as well,” Kibbutz Movement head Eitan Broshi said.
The Defense Ministry has noted a marked increase in the number of foreigners coming to Israel to serve in the IDF — 335 volunteers from 20 countries came in 2013, up 34 percent from the previous year.
View original Israel Hayom publication at: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=17163