In the summer of 1982, in the midst of the Galilee War, Golan Heights settlements faced the disastrous prospect of losing their entire agricultural crop. The majority of able-bodied settlers were called up for army reserve duty and entire farms, with crops already ripened, were left unattended, due to the acute manpower shortage. Dr. Aharon Davidi (z”l ), the former head of the I.D.F. Paratroopers and Infantry Corps, was then directing the Golan Heights community and cultural activities.
Touched by the settlers’ distress, he sent a number of friends as a recruitment team to the United States. Within a few weeks, some 650 volunteers arrived in Israel to lend their support through volunteer labor. Realizing the merits of that action, those first volunteers expressed the wish that the volunteer project be perpetuated.
As a result, in the Spring of 1983, “Sar-El” – The National Project for Volunteers for Israel – was founded as a non-profit, non-political organization (“Sar-El” is the Hebrew acronym meaning “Service for Israel”).
Over the years, volunteers from other countries came to partake in the project, and to date, Sar-El is represented in over 30 countries worldwide. Historically, Sar-El’s greatest number of volunteers have come from Volunteers for Israel (V.F.I.) in the U.S.A. and Volontariat Civil (U.P.I.) in France.