For the past two summers I have participated in the most rewarding volunteer work ever, in my favorite place – Israel. I traveled to Israel to be a Sar-El volunteer, where I spent three weeks working alongside Israeli soldiers and other volunteers from all of the world – Spain, Ukraine, Prague, Italy, Holland, Zimbabwe, and Hong Kong. My fellow volunteers were Jewish as well as Christian.
We lived among soldiers on a specific army base. This past summer I was put on a transportation base near Beer Sheva. On the base, the sort of jobs we had were:
• Updating equipment for the reservists
• Painting numbers and bumpers and ladders of trucks that carried tankers.
• Emptying out the storage areas of the trucks that contained fire extinguishers, jacks, chains and shackles, and water jugs.
• Sorting flak jackets by size and made sure they were in “working” order.
• Working in the kitchen.
We worked Sunday afternoon to Thursday afternoon, with our work day typically ending at 4:30. After dinner, one of many meals we shared amongst soldiers, we had an evening program that consisted of learning Israeli history, Hebrew, army ranks, or [things about] Israeli society.
During the second week of the program we had a full day field trip. We went to the Air Force Museum, grabbed lunch at a mall in Arad, swam in the waterfalls of Ein Gedi, and then topped off this fabulous day at the Dead Sea. On the third week, we had a half day trip to Sderot, Magen David Adom and a beautiful memorial site.
Both summers I went to Israel with my eighteen year old daughter, Mollie. She was placed on a base near Eilat where she conducted inventory, sorted supplies, and had an all around great time socializing with the soldiers who were her same age and the other volunteers as well. Since she loved it so much, we decided to return to Israel and volunteer more with Sar-El.
The soldiers that are on the base are thrilled that we are there to volunteer. They cannot believe we would fly at our own expense to help them out. Whenever a soldier would ask my daughter why she was spending her precious summers in Israel on an army base, she’d reply, “Because I love Israel.” And that’s the beauty of Sar-El. It is a wonderful experience to share with friends and family, but you can even travel alone and you will make friends there in an instant. It is an amazing feeling to be surrounded by people who love Israel just as much as you do.