Experiencing Sar-El in the Desert

I always had a positive attitude about Israel although I wasn’t there until last December. Sar-El gave me a wonderful opportunity to be useful for Israel and simultaneously to see the country. 

My first volunteer program allowed me to meet Israel with my own eyes. I realized there is more to  see than the area between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem seen during my first volunteer cadence. Certainty, this area is the main and the most developed part of Israel; but not whole Israel. Israel is much bigger. 

The main thing I wanted to see was the legendary Negev desert. Two and a half hours on a bus showed me landscape changing from luxurious towers of Tel Aviv through the lovely outskirts of the agricultural fields, the fruit and olive trees, then lonely palms and finally the Negev. A beautiful highway, some bus stops for refueling, shops with all sorts of goods and foods. 

 I expected some decrease of standards in the desert compared to the base in the center of Israel. It was a mistake. Everything was at the highest level except  maybe the absence of a Mediterranean mild breeze. The base provided the volunteers everything which makes life comfortable;  and the work was  interesting, safe and efficient. 

 We, the team of seventeen guys, received clean working camouflage, working boots, sleeping bags, comfortable beds, air conditioning in barracks, delicious and nutritious food. In addition to the base commanders, our special gratitude goes to our charming madrichot, Raquel and Dana, who effectively organized our work and out-of-work life. They constantly cared for work safety at high temperatures in the middle of the desert when the temperature sometimes reached numbers around 50 C. Our leaders skillfully organized our leisure, including trips to the Negev Ben Gurion Museum and the Army Historical Museum.      

As for me, Ben Gurion Museum really surprised me with the grove of olive trees, rose bushes, lawns around Ben Gurion’s last house. It’s all in the desert. Ben Gurion was right when he predicted the future of Israel by the development of the Negev. For that, Israel needs only water and peace on the borders to turn the Negev into a growing garden. Water isn’t a problem for Israel, a country with a lot of technological approaches for water supply.  

As for peace with the neighbors, I hope Israel, with the help of the world progressive community and IDF, will convince people and governments of the neighbors that peace is much more profitable for them than the endless confrontation. 

I would like to repeat  that volunteer work was safe and interesting.. We always worked in shade. Our Madrichot arranged breaks for water and snacks. We always had new gloves and everything necessary for safe work. Evening conversations at 5 pm meetings were interesting and lively and touched on many aspects of Israel life.

In addition to cleaning our unit, we participated in cleaning the cafeteria after breakfast and lunch for staff and volunteers. For me, it was interesting in terms of assessing the quality of food cooking, storing the raw ingredients and the quality of washing dishes and cutlery. Everything was at the highest level and corresponded to the highest standards for public catering. 

 I especially want to note our friendly communication with the staff of the base. The solitude of life and work in the desert made our relationship more close and frequent. In this fellowship I learned a lot about Israel. At the end of our Sar El session, we had a meeting with the Commander  of the base. We got appreciation for the significance and effectiveness of our volunteer work. 

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