About Sar El
In the summer of 1982, in the midst of the Galilee War, Golan Heights settlements faced the disastrous prospect of losing their entire agricultural crop. The majority of able-bodied settlers were called up for army reserve duty and entire farms, with crops already ripened, were left unattended, due to the acute manpower shortage. Dr. Aharon Davidi (z”l ), the former head of the I.D.F. Paratroopers and Infantry Corps, was then directing the Golan Heights community and cultural activities.
Touched by the settlers’ distress, he sent a number of friends as a recruitment team to the United States. Within a few weeks, some 650 volunteers arrived in Israel to lend their support through volunteer labor. Realizing the merits of that action, those first volunteers expressed the wish that the volunteer project be perpetuated.
As a result, in the Spring of 1983, “Sar-El” – The National Project for Volunteers for Israel – was founded as a non-profit, non-political organization (“Sar-El” is the Hebrew acronym meaning “Service for Israel”).
Over the years, volunteers from other countries came to partake in the project, and to date, Sar-El is represented in over 30 countries worldwide. Historically, Sar-El’s greatest number of volunteers have come from Volunteers for Israel (V.F.I.) in the U.S.A. and Volontariat Civil (U.P.I.) in France.
Qualifications for Participation in Sar-El
The program is open to:
Men and women ages 17 and older (16 with parent or guardian); in good physical and mental health.
Those eligible for Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return.
Other supporters of Israel.
Expenses paid by Sar-El:
Housing and meals during the work week.
Ground transportation from airport to base for those who arrive on the program’s starting dates during normal business hours.
Working clothes and provisions for their cleaning.
Tours and lectures.
Weekend accommodations in Sar-El centrally located hostel (as space is available).
Expenses paid by volunteer:
Health and accident insurance.
Volunteers are responsible for the registration fee which varies by country. (Click here to contact your country’s representative for details).
Round-trip airfare. Ground transportation expenses for weekends and final departure.
Entrance fees for site-seeing arranged by Sar-El (we obtain discounted rates for entrance fees).
Weekend spending money for accommodations, meals, and site-seeing.
Pocket money for personal needs.
Since its inception and up through the end of 2010, the Sar-El volunteer project has brought in over 132,000 volunteers of which many have since made “Aliyah” and have become Israeli citizens. For these achievements, “Sar-El” was awarded the Chairman of the Knesset (Israeli parliament) Award.
In 1990, “Sar-El” initiated a rehabilitation project for disabled veterans of the Israeli Defense Forces through the Ministry of Defense. The scope of the project shows constant growth, with increasing numbers of disabled veterans serving on military bases as “Sar-El” volunteers.
“Sar-El”‘s chairman and founder, Dr. Aharon Davidi (z”l), was one of three prize-winners awarded the annual Moskowitz Prize for Zionism in 2010. Davidi also received the President’s Award for his dedication to the volunteer project over the years. In year 2000, in recognition of the achievements of Sar-El, Davidi was given the honor of lighting of 1 of the 12 memorial torches on Mt. Herzl in celebration of Israel’s Independence Day.
In year 2001, Sar-El volunteers were invited to the home of the President of the State of Israel on two separate occasions in recognition of their outstanding volunteer activities.
Many Israeli senior citizens have joined the “Sar-El” volunteer program on a part time basis. The volunteer project’s great appeal is manifested not only in increasing numbers of both new volunteers and those who return again and again, but also in the growing number of active supporters in Israel and abroad.
For the past two years (2010,2011) two of our madrichot have won Outstanding Soldier of the Year awards, bestowed by Israel’s president.
After Davidi’s passing in 2012, the Sar-El organization has continued his legacy with pride. The Sar-El Board of Directors voted in General Zvi Shur as the new Chairman of our organization and we are continuing to embody Davidi’s principles in all of our organization’s undertakings.
Sar-El leadership adopted as its achievement of the following goals:
Contribute to the promotion of Jewish continuity.
Create a cultural and educational exchange between the diaspora and Israel.
Partner with all supporters of Israel in a mutually beneficial experience.
Sar-El proposes to achieve its goals by encouraging volunteers from around the world to come to Israel for a number of weeks to experience the following:
Working in I.D.F. warehouses.
Guided tours of interesting locations in Israel.
Lectures on Jewish and Israeli topics.
Sar-El is proud to note that the program provides many additional benefits to include the following:
Fosters new friendships
Contributes to Israel’s economy
Creates ambassadors of goodwill for Israel.