You Said It

 

 We get so many great letters and e-mails
from our volunteers around the world that
we just had to share some of their comments.

——————————————————————————-

Just a little note of appreciation and thanks.
I’m not sure how much of an impact my contribution had on the Sar-El program and the IDF.
But what I am sure of is, the enormous positive influence Sar-El had on me as an individual.
Thank you, and the program for the “kveling” feeling of gratitude, I am presently experiencing. This emotion can’t be bought, given, or  stolen, it has to be earned. Thank-you for the opportunity.

Aron K.
—————————————————————————-
 It’s always a pleasure stay with soldiers and people from all over the world and I think that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is one of the most formative experiences for a person that opens your mind and your heart for Israel.
For fifteen days we worked on a military base near Ramat Gan. [Our base] is the center of health supplies for all of the Israeli Army. Our task was to arrange and set up operative backpacks, split medicines etc.
Really touching was meeting Simcha Applebaum, a Holocaust survivor, [who told us] of his tragic experience.. A true “gibor” (hero), like they say in Hebrew. His story gave us strong energy.  An heartfelt thanks to our madrichot (Tali, Sharon, Anastasia and Tovah), for the organization of our days and especially for our evening activity. 
—————————————————————————-
 I have successfully returned home to Bulgaria. I am writing to say A BIG THANK YOU to you, the madrichot and everybody at Sar-El. 
I had a wonderful time, and I feel that my work was important and helpful. I feel an even stronger connection with Israel now. 

Thank you again. 

Kristian 

 —————————————————————————-

Greetings from Brazil!
It has been a few great months after I have returned home…, but I can honestly say that I have not been the same after I have participated on Sar-El. Serving the soldiers and Israel gave me am immense sense of responsibility to share with everybody the truth and beauty about Israel.

I cherish all the friends I made while serving on Sar-El. Most of them are soldiers that I had the privilege to work with side by side. Letters, postcards and emails plus Facebook updates will definitely help to keep our friendships strong.

But I just cannot wait to serve with Sar-El again. My Jewishness bloomed inside of me again.

I thank all of you of Sar-El for making possible for an ordinary guy like me to be part of this program so vital for humanity.

Thank you

Joel 

 —————————————————————————-

We had an absolutely fantastic time on the program and loved every moment! We are now officially addicted and will definitely be coming back for another program. 

What a wonderful thing Sar-El is. We have met so many new friends and had an amazing experience. All I can say is if you love Israel and like volunteer work then Sar-El is for you!

Many thanks and best wishes

Suzy and Max 

—————————————————————————-

Sar-El is a wonderfully rewarding program. You should be very proud of what you have.

We had a great time and came home feeling we contributed.

Howard

—————————————————————————-

Well…this group has gotten as tight as can be. Tighter than sardines in a can.
Tighter than those two soldiers hugging in the background. Jacqui and Susan are best friends. They are organizing a get together in Philly for Bob, Glenn, David Finger, Ed & friends.
The two single ladies in the front, right and left, have moved-in together In Jerusalem.  
Marty, Yegal, Bob, Glenn are already committed for next Nov.
Rotation, as well as a Negev three day trip.  Itai from Berlin wants to volunteer when all the gang are there.  Itai was as stiff as a board when he came.  By the end of the two weeks he was laughing all the time.
Not to mention, the 100s of eMails and photos that are crossing the globe. 
I will organize a Sar El evening on my next trip to Montreal. Sar El is changing lives and making volunteers fall in love w/ Israel. If Israel is at war for its survival, than the SAR- ELNIKS are Israel’s secret Army. My family. 
Yegal
—————————————————————————-

“I don’t know how many grandparent/grandchild combos you see in Sar-El, but here’s a photo of Zach and me.

It was an awesome experience to be there, in Israel, on an IDF base and volunteering our time and energy together. It was also pretty awesome to know that one of the reasons Zach was there was that he’s watched me volunteering for Sar-El repeatedly while he was growing up. 

He’s talking about going back to his alma mater and to his synagogue to encourage other teens to experience Sar-El.”

Barb

—————————————————————————-

What is so different about Zahal ?

 
Normally we think of faceless soldiers, 
Based in nameless bases,
Conducting practice maneuvers,
And fighting for undefined fuzzy issues.
 
But, who makes up the Zahal Army ??
 
Young men. Young women.  They interrupt their
… Life and careers to join Zahal.
You see them all over Israel.  Working in restos,
….. the stores, the banks, or enjoying the beaches 
… malls, corner coffee shops, etc.
  
Sometimes they walk around in their tight uniforms
…carrying machine guns.
They are the sons and daughters of Sabras.  Grandkids
… of survivors of Hitlers murderous plans.
 
Zahal is different than any Army in the globe. 
The young soldiers know who and what they are fighting 
for.  
 
Sar-El salutes these young Giborim. 
Sar El supports these, your Macabees. 
 
Yegal 
—————————————————————————–

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wanted to let you know that I had an incredible experience with the [Sar-El] group… The soldiers on the base were very welcoming…and I will never forget my experience. It has made a lasting impression on my life and I have a much deeper bond with Israel and her people. The other members of my volunteer group were great as well and I have formed lasting connections with them also.

In the coming year I plan on bringing my wife along to share the experience with me. I appreciate all of your hard work in organizing us and look forward to entering the program again.

With gratitude,

Mark

—————————————————————————–

Here are some photos from our amazing week at the Golani base! Thank you so much!


Jaime Vinderine
Budokan Israel
Social Media Coordinator
—————————————————————————–
I spent three fantastic weeks in Zahal, with a wonderful group! I was the only Italian, but it was like feeling at home. Sometimes the work was very hard and, as they told us, we were not in a hotel. But just for these reasons my experience was greater.
[It] was a true experience. You live with the soldiers and you know that, in your small way, with the right attitude, you could help Israel to defend it’s own right to exist. So I’m very proud to have given my little contribution to this fantastic country. 
In these days I’ve learned how much “blood” was spent behind the birth of this nation. Thank you IDF.
 
See you soon!
 
Fabrizio, Italy
—————————————————————————–

We are long-time Sar-El volunteers – regularly since 1989.  That’s a lot
of IDF 
base experience under our belts.

We read the website letters with a mix of envy, and nostalgia.  Our age now limits on-base activity to less active tasks but nostalgia will have to do.


We can still make it to the cheder
ochel
and hold our own in useful medical supply activity, but forgive us for being somewhat envious of our younger volunteers. 

Memories will have to serve.


Sylvia and Jack Bordan

Montreal, Canada

—————————————————————————–

OMG how great were those 3 weeks – non can compare – our wonderful group of 15, Lea with her enthusiasm and true love of her adopted country and the incredible experience of going to those border bases and meeting those brave, beautiful souls.


They are the heroes; they deserve everything; I was just there to make things a little nicer and cleaner; there to give them a laugh; to listen and be let them know that they are cared about and loved.

I look forward to another adventure in Sar-El and especially returning to Hativa 300, hoping that the holes are fixed and the hot water is working!! Love to my chavarim and may we continue to be tied to this bond that no one else can ever have.

Ellen

—————————————————————————–

I just want to tell you how thankful I am for giving me a chance to participate in this great program. It was absolutely great and [an] unforgettable experience of my life.


I am happy to be together with Israeli soldiers working sometimes hand in hand together and with  volunteers from all over the world which had the same attitude to help, support and encourage. After this service I know that I appreciate and respect more than before the hard work of the IDF soldiers, and their attitude to protect this beautiful country.
Jarek
 —————————————————————————–  

It is with deep gratitude that I write to thank you for opportunity to have served as a volunteer in Sar El from July 19-24th of this year. From the moment I met you and the group at the airport and saw your organization and passion, to being placed in the excellent care of the madrichot Ellen and Simcha, and having completed meaningful work at the army base- the experience was incredible. I feel a deep sense of pride and accomplishment in being helpful to the IDF and to Israel and I have made wonderful friends as a result. 

When I first participated in the program in 1983 and 1984, I never would have dreamed that it would have grown into what it is today. I am so impressed and in awe of the people like you, and the tens of thousands who have given so much to make this program the huge success it is.  I am planning on applying again next year and hope to volunteer two or three weeks, starting on July 10, 2016. I thank you for welcoming me back to the program and for giving me new purpose. 

Please count on me to step up in any way needed during the year and I look forward to returning to Israel and to meeting you once more at the airport in a little over 10 months from now.  

 
May we all come and go in peace, 
 
Alyson  
USA

—————————————————————————– 

…I think the highlight of the trip  for me was making friends with 35 people from all over the world, Christians and Jews alike; many who had been volunteering numerous times. I think Israel has it right. In the end Israel gave me much more than I gave her, and yes, I would do it again.

Ronald M.

—————————————————————————–


This experience [with Sar-El] was unlike anything I could dream or imagine: I worked with the Israel Defense Forces about ten miles south of Tel Aviv.  We worked in warehouses packing, folding, wrapping, and counting field gear, alongside soldiers. We ate, worked, and slept on the base…  I issue you the challenge to give of your time and talents to Sar El and the IDF!       

Jerry F.  

  —————————————————————————–

I want to tell you that I had the most fabulous experience of my life at [Sar-El]. They told us that we saved the Army over 165,000 shekels ($45,000) [with] all of our free labor.

I met lifelong friends from NJ, Portland, Virginia, Philly, St. Paul, Haiti and Austria.

The commander of the base personally thanked us and told us that he has never had a group
that interacted with the soldiers like we did.  We even had a pizza party night for all of the soldiers.

My madricha was the hardest working girl, even giving us Hebrew lessons and a history lesson of Israel!

Mitch

—————————————————————————–

My experience at Sar El was outstanding.
I really felt needed and met great people from all over the world.

Each of us had something to share .Each one from a different background,different countries,different religions,different personal own worlds.

We all came to volunteer for different reasons,but with one same goal,to help the IDF.I met great people, great Madrihot,learning that there is always a place in life for me. 

Thank you Sar El for giving me this opportunity and hope to see you soon again.

Alicia C.
—————————————————————————–

It was a huge pleasure to work in Sar El and help the Israeli army! Since I arrived in Brazil I have been thinking about it all the time like a girl who fell in love. 

It is very hard being so far from Israel and from the army. It seems like I found a meaning, a reason in my life being with those soldiers and all the volunteers who understand how important is to work helping the IDF. If it was possible I would like to be there forever giving my life to help Israel and to be closer and closer of this people and country which I love so!   I would like to work more, I would like to give myself to this people and this country! Where does such love come from? Nobody can explain to me! 
I got so amazing friendships with many soldiers, with many Israeli guys, with all madrichot and volunteers… In my last day, one soldier went to the airport with me. He was a witness how hard it was for me to take a plane back and how I cried for coming back to Brazil. I also keep in touch with one madricha. She said that the way I feel it looks like I will be always part of Israel and the army.
 
Juliana S.
—————————————————————————–

I had the honor of volunteering in the IDF through Sar-El from July 20-July 31.  I arrived back home in the States on August 3 and I have been having a difficult time trying to process through my experience. While my greatest hope is that Israel will one day live in peace, it was especially meaningful to have been on the base during this difficult time.

It was an honor to work side by side with the soldiers, who were appreciative of our service, and other volunteers from all over the world and to be able to show our love and commitment to the land we all love so much.

Our madricha, Sharon, was wonderful. Much of what is usually planned for the volunteers was cancelled since the reservists that have been called up were living in the space where we would normally have our evening programs, and any trips that were planned had been cancelled due to the war.  Sharon was able to make this a very meaningful experience through her dedication to us and her commitment. She was always professional and often joined in the work we were doing knowing that it may help her friends, relatives and fellow Israelis who may unfortunately have the need for it. I am grateful that my first experience in Sar-El included a madricha who is so committed to her job.

I am hoping to come back next summer with Sar-El and volunteer again.  I have been asked to speak in our community about the program and I hope to recruit  many more people. Thank you for this opportunity, I will always be grateful to have been able to serve and hopefully make a difference.

 Sincerely,

 Jacqui 

—————————————————————————–

Israel has given me many great memories and experience that I will certainly not forget anytime soon. I met inspiring people and an inspiring Israel and I cannot wait to come back for a second visit. I am proud that I had the chance to show my support for Israel with the program.

I am truely grateful for the attitude that the IDF has shown towards us volunteers in every moment and I hope I will get another chance to serve with the IDF very soon.

 Nils-Arik

—————————————————————————–

We finally returned to the US, after 6 weeks in Israel (Purim through
Passover), and could not wait to give you a giant thank you for the
wonderful three Sar-El weeks we had with the group you assigned us to!
(March 16 to April 3).

Steve and I loved the Communications Base you choose.  It was
perfect!  We had really important, interesting work, with lots of variety..
The work was plentiful and jobs we could really “dig into” with gusto.

There was such an atmosphere of cooperation as we worked side by side with
the soldiers,  developing awesome friendships and camaraderie.  We loved
them and they loved us!   The soldiers even shared their Purim Party with
us- an experience that we will always treasure. Base commanders Major Alon
and Shai said we were the best group they ever had!

Marion and Steve

—————————————————————————–

I just wanted to tell you, how thankful I am to the IDF  for  giving me a chance to participate in the tour
March/April. It was absolutely great and I hope to do it again (and again)

Looking forward to the next time at Sar-El,

Alexander

—————————————————————————–

We try to sit with the young Zahal-nicks (soldiers)  during the meals. We ask them
about their choices after Zahal. We try to be friendly and positive.

So Sar El is not just about counting used “stuff”.  It’s about giving pride to the young soldiers.  It’s about
building relationships with those that look lonely.

Yegal Rosen

 —————————————————————————–

Just a note to thank you for the opportunity to volunteer [for the Sar-El] program..

Our group was very cohesive, very mixed: a few nationalities, a few Christians, and a group of various ages;we all worked together well  and I think  would all like to  return.  Our Madrichot were great:  

[Our madricha} Maayan came up with wonderful learning programs that could very well be standardized.  She said it took her two days to come up with the questions for the game of Jeopardy, Our opposing team among others consisted of 3 Israelis, her questions on geography and history on Israel were so good, that our team won over them to the surprise of all of us. [Our madricha] Laetitia  was sweet and caring. If things were not l00 percent, they always corrected it.

Please thank the powers that be at Sar-El for all their endeavors to make this program so wonderful.  While our work helps the army’s workload, it enriches us. There is nothing like being with these young dedicated soldiers and looking into their beautiful faces, knowing what they are up against and what all Israelis are up against. The world has blind eyes when it comes to Israel. 

I will do my best in promoting the Sar-El program.  Saluting the Israeli flag is among the most heartfelt moments in ones  life.

Shalom, thanks and hugs,

Rita

—————————————————————————–

 

We all have had memorable experiences while doing Sar-El.  This is one of mine:


Tel Aviv bus station.  Sunday morning.  Downstairs. Noisy, controlled confusion.,  Soldiers and volunteers returning to base.  A soldier, maybe twenty years old, I’m eighty-five, sits leaning against a wall.  Our conversation: You speak English?  Yes.  What’s that emblem on your blouse?  Combat engineers.

Oh, you’re the guys who build Bailey Bridges under fire?(only half-kidding)  Yes.  Are you American? Yes.  We train with your soldiers and they come to train with us.  Interesting.  I  ask the usual questions.  Age? Time in service?  

 

He asks, Are you a tourist?  I smile.  No, a volunteer. Explain.   I tell him about Sar-El, the three week “hitch”, the work we do at various bases, the variety of people who come at their own expense, my eleventh year.  Why do you keep coming back? The food.  We laugh. He reaches up to his collar, removes the IDF insignia pin.  Hands it to me.  

 

You can’t give this away.  Yes I can.  To you.  I choke up and turn away.

I hope this “kid” gets home safe — he and all the others.
 
Seth

—————————————————————————–


My mantra before I left for Israel was “I have come to serve, not be served.” So I was there to serve in whatever capacity I was assigned. The definition of a disappointment is “an unfulfilled expectation”. I can honestly say that I had no real expectation except that I was coming to Israel to volunteer & serve the IDF.


I was thrilled beyond anything that I could have expected. I was excited the day that I arrived & kept that enthusiasm & excitement until the day that I left. I will return & keep returning to Israel & serve with Sar-El/VFI. I am so thankful that Sar-El/VFI has provided me this venue for me to serve Israel & the IDF.

I have now met new friends that I will have for a lifetime. Everyone laughed. It was like one big family working together. We all bonded & knew we were there to serve & volunteer. This whole experience was life-changing. I will never be the same after these 3 weeks.

Susan

—————————————————————————–


Our barracks created privacy and “atmosphere” in our shower area –
with the help of a rope, some bright blue duct tape, a couple of trash bags, one surgical drape, and one actual bargain shower curtain that someone brought along…  and even suction-cup hooks! 

There’s something to be said for previous experience!

Thanks for all you do!

Barb 

 

—————————————————————————–

I am so very proud to be a part of a community of adults that loves Israel, loves the Jewish Nation and contribute with time, money and effort. No one could imagine that after 66 years Israel’s existence – the future of Israel and of its citizens is again under threat.

You volunteers are the secret army of Israel.  You inspire the soldiers that you work with.  You inspire the leadership of Zahal. You come to Eretz Israel, live with the soldiers, eat the army food, sleep in the base, do your work and ask to do more.   You inspire me.

Stay healthy. Stay strong. HAZAK.

Eretz Israel needs you all back. 

Humbly,

 Yegal

—————————————————————————–

Hey I just wanted to say that I had a very wonderful time during my Sar-El. And I can tell everybody here, that the Israelis are a bunch of good people and that they have a great humor! I want to thank our Madrichim. And that they’re doing  great work!

Thank you Israel, greetings from Germany!

Mathias

—————————————————————————–

I really loved participating in Sar-El.  I’m still on a “high” and am telling all my friends about it. I emailed all of them the picture of me in army fatigues. So cool! I’ve lived here 44 years and always wanted to wear the army fatigues.

We had a lovely group and Adina was great!!!!

Rozy

——————————————————————————–

I had a great time. The people by and large on the program, are absolutely amazing. Their dedication and desire to help IDF and Israel is something I have never witnessed before.

Where you guys shine above all is the Madrichim/ot. The quality of people you guys have in place is superb. I understand it is a prestigious unit and hard to get into. Noam and Sara were so sweet and fun. Avraham,Chris and Yudit were so kind and helpful.

Steven

——————————————————————————–

Being a volunteer in Sar-El gave meaning to my life. It satisfied my soul and

I gave it my best.

What I had was a blessing and I am humbly grateful for being privileged to serve my people and Israel.

You, Pam, Allouche and Davidi set the standards.

I have made many wonderful friends and I love all of you.

Love,

Malka

——————————————————————————–

The May 6, 2012 Volunteers have made a donation to the General Davidi Ambulance Fund in recognition of the excellent service of our Madrichot Anna, Elanor and Tamara.

——————————————————————————–

I have to say it has been Sar El that has made me go for aliyah… without Sar El, I don’t think I would have plucked up the courage and the impetus. It has changed my life..

Leigh Humpage

Editor: We wish Leigh good luck on her aliyah!

——————————————————————————–

Had a great trip with Sar-El. Hope to do it again soon in 2012 if you will have me back!

Pete Emms

——————————————————————————–

My Sar-El trip was very fulfilling, and I am excited to return to do some more work!

Douglas Fenn

——————————————————————————–

I enjoyed and appreciated my time with Sar-El. It was one of the most satisfying things I have ever done in my life. It was exponentially more than I had anticipated. Everyone was so kind to us, and quite appreciative, too. Such irony when we all appreciate those in the IDF and Sar-El. Thank you so much for the opportunity to participate in something so beyond what I ever imagined being able to participate in in the first place. You will see me again, and I will be a huge advocate for Sar-El, you can be sure of this.

Ken Whitmire

——————————————————————————–

I had a very good experience in Beer Sheva. The work was good and I feel we accomplished something; the madrichot and commanders we worked for were great; the group of volunteers were a good mix and we worked and “played” well together. I am already looking forward to next year.

Hildegard

——————————————————————————–

I have just completed a 15 day program, which was spent at (a base) refurbishing radio equipment. Our group of 15 was varied in age and country of origin. There was a gentleman there aged 71 for whom this was his 9th program. It was my second time in Israel, my first was working on a Kibbutz in 1987. I opted for the program as it seemed a better way to see Israel and understand the culture far better than passing through as a tourist. I was also able to make a positive contribution while I was there.

From the very start, we bonded as a group and there was hardly a moment that passed when we were not laughing at a joke one of the group had made about something. Our Madrichot were Maytal Miller and Tehilla Weiss. I could tell from the start that they had volunteered for the job, as they were happy, full of life and good humored.

I have a few friends interested in volunteering next year and will definitely recommend the program to them.

Steve Martin

HTMLine - בניית אתרים