News and Articles

Reflections of our VFI Journey on December 7 – 23, 2018

By Annette Scheel

Our journey to Israel was complete in every way. Accommodations in each of our hotels were excellent. Meals were tasty and rooms were quite comfortable. In Haifa the hotel clerk (Bay View Hotel) was somewhat reluctant to give us quarters until he phoned local VFI personnel. At which time he realized that indeed we were registered. Read more >

Seven Times Lucky!

Sar-El trip number seven! We are in the Upper Galilee at the southern approach to the Golan Heights.  We are becoming expert at organizing work in IDF warehouses!  Read more >

Presenting Sar-El volunteers as Jihadists joining ISIL is nonsense!

(First Published 14 November 2014)

A few articles recently compared two groups of people living in Western countries:

  • Those expressing solidarity with Israel and joining the Sar-El volunteer programs in order to aid and assist the Israel Defense Forces (IDF),
  • Those embracing Jihad and joining the troops of the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL) in Syria and Iraq in order to contribute to Jihad.

We, at Sar-El the National project for volunteers for Israel, firmly oppose such a biased, dishonest and insane presentation. Sar-El volunteers have nothing to do with Jihadists.

We know that some people may grab any comparison and question its relevance. For those people, we made a list of arguments that highlight why a parallel between IDF and Sar-El on one hand and ISIL and Jihad on the other hand is nonsense:

  • IDF is the army of the State of Israel, which is a member of the United Nations (UN), which grants citizenship and which delivers passports… whereas ISIL and its self-proclaimed caliphate have no legal existence and no recognition by any member State of the UN.
  • The State of Israel is ruled by a Government that reflects the results of democratic elections. Whatever their gender, their race or their religion, all Israeli citizens can vote for these elections, whereas ISIL is ruled by a self-proclaimed autocratic leader who doesn’t intend to organize elections.
  • The State of Israel grants rights and notably freedom of speech and freedom of religion to all Israeli citizens, to all visitors and to all people placed under its authority, whereas ISIL exterminates people who don’t strictly obey its extremist version of Islam and refuses rights to women.
  • Israel and IDF are not engaged in a religious war. They don’t make war under the name of God, unlike ISIL and all terrorist groups that pretend to act under the name of Allah. There is nothing like Jihad in Judaism. There is also no will to conquering and subjugate the world in Judaism.
  • IDF is committed to defend and protect all Israeli citizens, whatever their gender, their race or their religion, whereas ISIS is committed to attack and eliminate Shiites, Christians, Yazidis, Kurds and Jews and is calling for Jihadist terrorist attacks in Western Countries.
  • Sar-El welcomes volunteers from all democratic countries, whatever their gender, their race or their religion, unlike ISIL that recruits only people sharing its extremist version of Islam.
  • Sar-El never places volunteers in a combat capacity, unlike ISIL. It offers them opportunities of assisting IDF soldiers, for instance through property maintenance, medical supplies or food preparation.
  • Sar-El welcomes volunteers for short stays within IDF premises. The number of days is known in advance and volunteers return to their home country at the end of their Sar-El program. ISIL doesn’t want Jihadists to leave the battlefield without its authorization. A lot of Jihadists from Western countries already died on the ground in Syria or Iraq.

Some people may agree and others may disagree with the Israeli Government and its policy. However, a comparison between Sar-El and Jihad has nothing to do with this debate.

Those who truly aim at constructive debates and at a peace solution in the Middle East can only agree with the here-above arguments and conclude that the comparison is nonsense.

Only those people who are blinded by their hate of Israel and by their refusal to acknowledge our country could judge  the IDF and Sar-El on one hand and ISIL and Jihad on the other as similar cases.

We, at Sar-El, hope that peace will finally overcome and that our organization will eventually become useless. In the meantime, as Israel continues to face deadly threats, we are very grateful that people from democratic countries show their solidarity with our country by participating in our volunteer programs. We are dedicated to welcome these people that come to give us a hand.


Another Way to Experience Israel

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. Read more >

Temporary Closure at Beit Oded

Important notice to our volunteers: our hostel Beit Oded will be temporarily closed on the weekend of December 27-30, 2018.


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. 

Read more >

Making Sar-El Part of Your Aliyah

Many retirees make aliyah to Israel and include Sar-El as part of their volunteer lives.  Click here to read more about it:

A Spiritually Elevating Experience

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. Read more >

Something Borrowed and Found Via Sar-El

When my husband Jeff and I arrived in Israel to volunteer on Sar-El, I knew that we would feel at home. After all, we had volunteered for Sar-El before, and we were ready to work hard and meet new people. I never dreamed that I would reconnect with part of my past. Read more >

Going Solo With Sar-El

I am on the final leg of my journey to Israel.  While I have been to Israel, many times this will be my first trip going solo. What am I doing?  I am volunteering in a program called Sar-El or, what is called in America, Volunteers for Israel.

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