Sar-El The National Project for Volunteers for Israel Wed, 12 Sep 2018 11:10:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Sar-Elniks at 9/11 Ceremony Wed, 12 Sep 2018 08:54:09 +0000 Sar-Elniks recently attended a memorial ceremony in Israel for the victims of the 9/11 tragedy. Click here to take a look.

Important Notice to Volunteers! Mon, 10 Sep 2018 10:26:49 +0000 Our meeting place has changed! Swarovski’s is gone! From now on the meeting place will be near the Erroca Sunglasses counter, Arrivals Hall, terminal 3, ground floor.

As you enter the Arrivals Hall from the outside, turn to the left. As you enter the Arrivals Hall after getting your luggage, turn to the right. If you do not see the group, please call Pamela. Click on the link below to see photos of Sar-El’s meeting places.

Sar-El-meeting-places (1)


Happy New Year! Mon, 10 Sep 2018 07:40:17 +0000 The Sar-El Team and our Board of Directors would like to wish our volunteers and representatives around the world a very Happy Rosh HaShana!

Participate in a Ground-Breaking Experience Sun, 09 Sep 2018 08:00:03 +0000 ALERT NOTICE –  A New program  – VFI PLUS ARCHAEOLOGY.This new All-Inclusive program has you volunteering for one week working on 

an archaeological dig from 3300 BC, the Early Bronze Age; with a second week volunteering on an IDF base. Also, days of private guided touring to off-beat attractions.The program starts November 18, 2018 for 14 days.

Interested in doing something really different?  Do you want to make a difference?

Stay Tuned —–Click here for more info:

Contact –

Nights in a Bomb Shelter Wed, 15 Aug 2018 09:25:28 +0000 In his blog Sar-Elnik Mark Werner writes about his recent experiences in an Israeli bomb shelter, on a base near the Gaza border. Click here to take a look:

Experiencing Sar-El in the Desert Wed, 15 Aug 2018 08:30:54 +0000 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. Thanks to wonderful  Pamela, she  gave me this opportunity and  I am heading to the Negev. 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. 

Making Sar-El Part of Your Aliyah Wed, 11 Jul 2018 11:43:27 +0000 Many retirees make aliyah to Israel and include Sar-El as part of their volunteer lives.  Click here to read more about it:

Temporary Closure at Beit Oded Tue, 03 Jul 2018 12:23:31 +0000 Important notice to our volunteers: our hostel Beit Oded will be temporarily closed on the weekend of Dec. 6-8, 2018.


Another Way to Experience Israel Tue, 26 Jun 2018 13:12:33 +0000 If you would like to contribute to Israel in a meaningful way, learn more about our history and heritage, and make friends from all over the world, may I suggest you consider volunteering with Sar-El.

Sar-EI, an acronym from the Hebrew which translates as Volunteer Service for Israel, was founded in 1982 by Aharon Davidi.

This was the time of the first Lebanon war, when all Israeli reservists were called up, resulting in a shortage of people to work on kibbutzim and other essential jobs. An appeal went out to Jewish organizations in America, and very quickly 650 volunteers were on their way to do these jobs.

Sar-EI’s objective is to attract voluntary help for the IDF (Israel Defense Force) in supportive work on IDF bases. There is a medical supply base near Tel Aviv where volunteers have their own accommodation, and work packing medical supplies, which are also sent to disaster areas all over the world, as well as the field hospital for Palestinians at the Gaza border, and of course IDF units. On other bases, volunteers assist in kitchens, packing kit bags and other equipment, cleaning, repairing…

Each group for volunteer service lasts for 3 weeks. One can volunteer for as little as one week, or do multiple groups. Groups meet initially on Sunday morning at Ben Gurion Airport, and are taken by coach to the IDF base. The first activity is lunch; uniforms and accommodation are then allocated.

Volunteers usually work in small groups. Lifelong friendships are formed, and a lot of fun is had. Each evening the madrichot organize activities, and volunteers learn about the IDF, Hebrew, Israel past and present…

On Thursday the volunteers are taken by bus to Tel Aviv. Free accommodation is provided at the Sar-El hostel in Jaffa, [when it is available]. Volunteers can also make their own arrangements for the weekend, and many hotels and hostels give discounts for volunteers.

On Sunday morning, volunteers re-assemble at a meeting place in Tel Aviv.

One day in the second week of the program is devoted to a tour. I have been to many museums, including Yad Vashem, the Palmach  Museum and the Israel Air Force Museum in Beersheva.

By Judith B.

A Spiritually Elevating Experience Wed, 13 Jun 2018 08:50:13 +0000 This October was my 6th volunteer stint with SAR-EL and essentially the third with the same core group of volunteers—we are becoming like family.  This trip we served at an Air Force logistics activity near Tel Aviv.  It was a great experience, we all worked very hard, and I learned a great deal about the IDF again, and interestingly, a great deal about the connections between the IDF and the United States’ logistical support for the state of Israel.

First, a quick lesson in what we used to call “Materials Breakdown Activity” back from when I was in the US Army.  The trucks come on to the base and deliver cargo pallets of supplies to the warehouse.  The troops unload the pallets and break down the bulk supplies into manageable groups, such as 100 bolts, 50 rifle magazines, 20 cans of paint, etc., and place them on ceiling-high warehouse stacking shelves.  They record the counts and the shelf locations in the computer, and then they are ready to fill orders from the field.  Nothing secret here, just hard work, lots of organization and a zero tolerance for errors.

As we grouped the deliverable items, I noticed that the stock numbers for almost all of these items were in a format familiar to me—they were the Federal Stock Number formats that the US military uses.  Most of the gear we received was of American origin; I felt right at home—I could read all of the descriptions and instructions!  Most of us have read about the $30 Billion in aide that flows to Israel from the US as part of our 10-year support package. Few of us are privileged to actually see the aide arrive and get out into active service!

My warehouse manager’s name was Yossi.  He managed a “dati” warehouse where all of the soldiers were religiously observant.  Their morning ritual was to lay tfillin, pray, then make the volunteers comfortable with coffee and treats—then go to work.  It was a spiritually elevating experience just to watch.  They started us off with easy tasks.  When we finished our first assigned “day’s work” by 11 AM, they understood that we were there to work!  After that, there was no shortage of work and we were accepted as part of the warehouse crew.  We got to do everything but drive the cherry picker/fork lift.  Probably a good decision!  By the way, the size of the warehouse was posted as four dunams; a measurement right out of Torah.

This was also the first time that some Sar-El volunteers wore the new rust colored volunteer berets.  Everyone loved them, especially the soldiers.  The picture shows us with the new berets while we attended a change of command ceremony at the base.  The IDF Air Force General in attendance posed for a picture with us.  While all of the attending soldiers were standing at attention on the parade grounds, the Sar-El volunteers were seated with the guests of honor in shaded stands.  Have I mentioned how much they appreciate us? 

We were informed on the first day that arrangements had been made for the volunteers to eat in the officer’s mess.  We told our Madricha that part of our responsibilities included communicating with all of the soldiers, especially the younger ones about Sar-El, and the fact that the IDF does not stand alone; that we volunteer to help them and support them.  It was important for us to eat with the enlisted troops as well.  Once we made our concerns known, it was agreed that we could switch back and forth—and we did.  The woman serving breakfast behind the counter every morning knew we were volunteers, and snuck in little pastries, which she surreptitiously placed, on our trays.  I have no words for that; we were home with Saftah.

I have run out of adjectives and superlatives to describe my annual Sar-El experiences.  We get so much more out of the experience than we put in.  Yes, we had only one shower for ten volunteers, and it took us the first week to discover the secret location of the electric switch that controlled the hot water.  Yes, eggs, tomatoes and cucumbers three times a day (along with some other foods) are a less than a five star diet, but all of those “hardships” pale when compared to the profound sense of accomplishment and joy we all experienced.  I am already counting down the months until next October.