For the 450 Jewish lone soldier veterans aided by Nevut, the organization founded and directed by Ari Abramowitz makes magic.
Three-year-old Nevut (Hebrew for navigate) offers essential support to lone soldiers as they reenter society after completing their IDF service. It offers vocational resources along with the camaraderie of brothers and sisters who know firsthand the hardships and suffering of lone soldier veterans.
Through more than 250 programs and events, and thousands of hours of professional and personal guidance, Abramowitz brought together the tools and resources required for a healthy and successful transition to civilian life.
Abramowitz is joined by therapists who share his dedication as well as his optimism and clarity of purpose, providing a lifeline of private and group therapy, mentorship programs and a 24-hour resource hotline to support veterans who are overcoming PTSD and trauma.
Through Nevut, lone soldier veterans become comrades to one another, forming a strong community and bond. Nevut grows leaders who in turn teach others.
Itzhak Mor, a longtime and active member, credits Abramowitz with helping him regain his footing after his IDF service. Mor recalled that when he returned home in New York, he was not sure of his direction or his own worth.
“You [come back from service] and you have a chip on your shoulder. You’ll smile at people, but you’ll be kind of lost,” he said. “You find it difficult to talk to family and friends at home because no one knows what you have gone through.”
Mor reached out to Abramowitz and joined Nevut.
“Ari dedicates himself to broken people — he fixes us,” Mor said. “The bonds we share help us to form a weird but new family through which, if we need anything, we help one another. It’s Ari who sets up meetups, group chats — and each of us comes to share information and even inside jokes.”
Mor gained skills, self-awareness and connections at Nevut. Now, a few years later, he continues to bond with other Nevut members.
“I’m still talking to the same people, my soldier buddies. Together, we have gone on ski Shabbatons, even with our families and kids,” he said. “Ari and Nevut are my extended family — even our spouses are connected.”
Stepping back and thinking about his journey to the IDF and now as a lone soldier veteran, Mor mused, “The IDF doesn’t give us [lone soldiers] direction, it is Ari’s commitment to each individual veteran that helps us to find our direction.”
Mor and another Jewish lone soldier veteran, Moti Leibman, had both known Abramowitz during their tours of service in Israel where Abramowitz was a partner in a lone soldier support program, but it was here in the United States that they sought him out.
Leibman reached out after the death of a lone soldier veteran who had overdosed. Concerned that he did not want any other lone soldier veteran to die from suicide or overdose, Leibman hoped to create a Nevut group in Los Angeles to support lone soldier veterans there. With Abramowitz’s support, a Los Angeles Chapter of Nevut was born.
“Ari was there from A to Z. He gave us workshops in leadership and helped us to set goals,” Leibman said, who established the chapter with his friend Zalman Plotke.
Coronavirus has limited their events now, but Leibman and Plotke are hopeful that soon they will be able to help lone soldier veterans with workshops on an array of topics. Meanwhile, they are present for these veterans, helping them make their difficult transition to civilian life. For his own successful transition, Leibman credits, it was, in part, his parents’ insistence that he enroll in college upon his return home — college deadlines give him a needed focus and discipline.
“For that needed focus and discipline that is why we created Nevut,” he said.
“Before Nevut, I wasn’t one to take on leadership roles,” Leibman said. “Ari inspired me to become a leader. The way that Ari sees it —you were a lone soldier, so you already are a leader; he sees us as natural born leaders. Ari is the father of lone soldiers, he’s there for us guys.”
Each day, Abramowitz reaches out over social media, texts, emails and the like to give Nevut Jewish lone soldier veterans the spark they need, the motivation that will carry them through the day and onward. At the same time, he is doing outreach, program development and fundraising, driving to expand Nevut’s programming and reach.
For now, Abramowitz brings a balm to the more than 450 Jewish lone soldier veterans who are Nevut. Hiking, davening, listening, he opens panoramas for these veterans. The father of lone soldiers, the fixer of brokenness, Abramowitz sees not the brokenness but the wholeness in each neshama.
For more information, visit nevut.org