Housing, Meals and Working Conditions

The work week: The volunteer period is usually 3 weeks long. The volunteer works 8 hours per day, 5 days per week, Sunday through Thursday (the Israeli work week). In the evenings, there are various activities and educational presentations on such topics as the Hebrew language, Israel’s history, Jewish holidays and traditions, and social and political issues in Israel. In addition, Sar-El will host up to two site-seeing trips (per 3-week program) which often includes Jerusalem. A liaison or guide (madricha) who is fluent in the volunteer group’s language always accompanies the volunteers and typically lives with the volunteers on the premises.

The weekends: On weekends, a number of options are usually available. Many of our participants choose to travel the country together. Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are common weekend spots, but the whole country is accessible. Accommodation in Sar-El-sponsored soldiers’ hostels is a possibility (depending on available space), or volunteers can opt to stay at other locations at their own expense. 

Types of work: There is a wide range of activities in which volunteers may participate. The majority of volunteers are assigned to work on army bases. Work activities can range from kitchen duties to simple mechanical repairs. Volunteers will work alongside or under the direction of soldiers and perform duties such as packing food rations or medical kits, changing spare parts, gardening, painting, or cleaning.

Work clothing:  (exchanged or laundered at Sar-El’s facilities) as well as work boots are provided and are appropriate to the tasks assigned.

Communal living: The accommodations at bases and other facilities are modest and are comparable to dormitory living. Volunteers should be prepared to share a room with up to 7 other volunteers. Rooms are typically arranged with bunkbeds and shared lockers. Men and women, even if married, sleep in separate rooms. The showers are communal and may not have a curtain. Showers are separate for men and women, although there are bases where only showering times are different. There are bases where showers/restrooms are located some distance from the barracks, so volunteers should bring flashlights for nighttime bathroom needs.

Meals: Volunteers receive three meals a day which are generally served in dining halls. If you are assigned to a base, all your meals will be Kosher. Lunch is the main meal of the day and is generally a meat meal, but most places provide a vegetarian option. The food may not be what you are used to, but it will be balanced and plentiful. For special dietary needs or concerns, contact your country’s representative.


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