News and Articles (page 4)

A Sar-El Barmitzvah!

Sar-El volunteer Gary Berkovich finally has his bar mitzvah…on the base!


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A Week To Remember

Since I first read about Sar-El in a magazine of the German-Israeli society (Deutsch-Israelische Gesellschaft) I have felt an increasing desire to participate in this program.

This increasing desire was caused by the ongoing unfairness in the media coverage as well as in the public opinion when it comes towards Israel. There are so many people that don’t see the need to learn more about history in order to actually understand the conflict between Israel and its enemies, but that are still very certain that Israel is always the aggressor. They either ignore all the rockets fired towards Israel or call them toy rockets like they couldn’t harm anybody; but as soon as Israel reacts towards these rockets in order to protect its citizens (as any state in the world is supposed to) they go out on the street to protest against Israel. When in the neighboring Syria however tens of thousands of Arabs are slaughtered by their own government or by terrorist groups, they seem not to care about. Read more >

The Davidi Ambulance Finally Arrives!

Above: Davidi’s wife Hasida, son, son-in-law and grandson.

Sar-El volunteers recently attended a dedication ceremony held in Tel Aviv to inaugurate the Davidi Ambulance, in honor of the memory of Sar-El Founder General Aharon Davidi (z”l). 

The ambulance was purchased through The American and Canadian Friends of Magen David Adom. All of us at Sar-El wish to express our thanks to volunteers and friends from around the world who donated money to this worthwhile cause. Davidi’s wife, Hasida, along with their son, son-in-law, and grandson all attended the dedication ceremony, along with Sar-El staff and volunteers.

Visiting Wounded Soldiers

Sar-El volunteers visit Beit Halochem (the organization for Israel’s disabled soldiers). Established in 1974 after the Yom Kippur War the organization has helped thousands of Israeli soldiers disabled during military conflict, readjust to life via sport activities as well as other physical and mental therapies. 

Making the Big Decision

By Rachel Lester

There are some decisions that will take me forever to make. My decision to take a semester off of school and volunteer for the Israeli army was nothing like that.
Of course, I had spent all summer thinking about Israel — who didn’t? I certainly wasn’t the only one of my friends checking JPost a hundred times a day, sharing every FIDF graphic, denouncing CNN, starting arguments online, and going to every rally, protest, and vigil. But that was what started to drive me crazy: no matter how much we all cared, we weren’t actually doing anything. Read more >

Coming Back For Another Great Adventure

Six years ago at age 50 I served my first SAR-EL Service and had an absolutely great time. I thought it couldn´t possibly be topped but my second service proved me wrong. In October 2014 I started my second SAR-El Service and once again a great adventure started.

I had just stepped out of the airplane when I was already welcomed by SAR-El at the Ben Gurion Airport which gave off a great first impression. Then there is the amazing Pamela Lazarus who within a few hours assigned us volunteers, well over 300, to different army bases. And Here I was sitting in a coach travelling to a base and meetingt many new people in my group. We were all guided by our Madricha who was in charge of us at the camp and assisted us in doing our service. Read more >

In Support of Sar-El

In the Czech Republic and the whole of Central Europe, we very often and closely return to the historical lesson of the Shoah. Events protesting against modern manifestations of traditional anti-Semitism take place on a regular basis. When the Bnej Israel Prague community under the supervision of Rabbi David Bohbot organized a demonstration under the statue of St. Wenceslas in the heart of Prague in summer 2014 (more precisely on June 24, 2014) for the release of three Israeli young men abducted by the radical Hamas, it opened a new chapter in a certain way. The topic was ruthless anti-Semitism turned directly against the heart of the Jews, against Israel.

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Presenting Sar-El Volunteers as Jihadists Joining ISIL is Nonsense!

Recent articles have appeared comparing two groups of people living in Western countries: Those expressing solidarity with Israel and joining the Sar-El volunteer program in order to assist the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and those embracing Jihad and joining the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL) 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:

1-     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.

2-     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.

3-     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.

4-     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.

5-     IDF is committed to defend and protect all Israeli citizens, whatever their gender, their race or their religion, whereas ISIL is committed to attack and eliminate Shiites, Christians, Yazidis, Kurds and Jews and is calling for Jihadist terrorist attacks in Western Countries.

6-     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.

7-     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.

8-     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.


Impressions From a First-Time Sar-Elnik

Why are you doing this? Pretty much everyone I talked to about Sar El asked that same question. It’s so dangerous, you’re not that religious, you were never in the service, and so forth. There were plenty of reasons to stay home.But even before Operation Protective Edge began this summer (2014), I felt, increasingly, that I had to do something more… well, more intimate than just sending a check to an Israeli charity from time to time. Read more >

Boots On the Ground

With the term ‘Boots on the Ground’ back in the news, I am reminded of a previous ‘Boots’ story.  Having just returned from Israel where boots unfortunately but necessarily had to be on the ground in and around Gaza recently, I offer this tale…….
We were advised to bring thick work socks. 
Volunteers arriving in Israel to provide essential civilian support services at various army bases had that advisory on their suggested packing lists. 

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