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beyond my expectations !
What can I tell you? Let’s see…
1) This was actually my 3rd trip not my fourth. Next year will be my
2) I was at [base name removed]* again — the Sar-El Hilton. This has been the only base I have served on. After listening to other people, I may request that this be the only base I be sent to.
3) A lot of people complained about the food. I didn’t, as I loved the food.
4) Accommodations were great. I found the cots extremely comfortable and slept really well. Also, I found the showers (a real necessity after doing physical work all day) to be great.
5) The madrichot were, as usual, excellent. The group we had were very entertaining.
6) I worked for the same supervisor that I had last year. She is very efficient and a joy to work for. There was a lot of work; the days went by very fast; and I enjoyed it all.
7) Airport arrival was a problem as there was no Sar-El reps available when I arrived. I ended up wandering around a lot (along with a number of other Sar-El-niks) trying to find someone, but eventually they arrived. It would be better if there could be a sign or something to let us know where to
8) This year we had 2 outings. There was a special 1-day trip to an archeological dig. It was fascinating. But I did feel a little guilty in abandoning my workplace supervisor for the day. I think it would be good to let the supervisors know well in advance when the volunteers will not be there.
9) On the negative side, we had 3 nights of special speakers. Too many in my opinion. But that’s just me.
10) Overall, I had a great time. For me, this is a vacation!
*Editor’s note.. as requested by the IDF, we don’t publish the names of bases. We also don’t publish the full name of the volunteer to protect their privacy.
This was my first experience with Sar-El. Although the weather was very rainy and colder than I expected my time was wonderful. I met beautiful people and the work in the warehouse with Amnon was better than I could imagine. The 2 outings were great. The food was very good. I ate very well. The matricot were so sweet and helpful, especially little Noa in the 1st 3 week session and in the 2nd session all 3 girls were more than helpful. I will definitely do Sar-El again.
On my weekends I spoke with people from all over and told them about the program. They were very interested and I hope some end up volunteering as well. I have only good to talk about my experience, even with the disappearing toilet paper and loss of heat my last night. The leaders immediately got us extra blankets though I did not need one. I thank Sor-El for the opportunity to go to this program. My only difficulty is the cost of air fare from Canada. It may be a few years until I can make it back, but I will do so.
Best regards. Ellen Ricki F.
Translated from the orginal Dutch by Ada Van Oijen, this story originally appeared on the website of a Dutch organization called Christians for Israel.
Somewhere in Tel Aviv we met. She heard me speak Dutch and spoke to me. Her story is one with a golden edge.
80-year-old Ada van Oijen is in Israel to do volunteer work at Sar-El. Sar-El (Hebrew: שר-אל, from: Sheirut Le’Yisrael = service for Israel) is a volunteer project of the Israeli army. The volunteers are there to support and mainly work in logistics, maintenance, catering, provisioning and medical services.
“I was a professional soldier in the Dutch army and always worked for the Air Force. I once read “I sleep with my gun,” written by Israeli Yael Dayan. It is about a Jewish girl who joins the Israeli army, a beautiful story. That book touched me deeply, so I decided to enter the Dutch army when I was nineteen. In 1990 I first heard about Sar-El. Its founder came to my hometown of Vlissingen to talk about it. It appealed to me immediately and I signed up. You pay for the flight yourself, accommodation is provided.
My love for Israel and the Jewish people is deep. When I was five or six years old, my father told me about the Second World War. It has always stayed with me. So many innocent people who were killed. I could never get rid of that again.
It may sound strange, but I feel Jewish at heart and it will always be that way. I am right behind Israel, whatever happens.
Thirty-six years and seven months I served in the Dutch army. In 1994 my commander thought it was so fantastic that I always gave up my days off to work for the Israeli army that he nominated me for a royal honor. And on 29 April 1994, I received it in the presence of the troops at Woensdrecht Air Base. I was as proud as a peacock.
I have been coming to Israel since 1964. During the six-day war in 1967, I cried like a little child, I thought I would never see my Israeli friends again. Day and night I was glued to the radio, I did not sleep. On my car I had a sticker with the text: I am behind Israel. My friends said I was crazy, they were afraid that my car would be destroyed. I didn’t care and nothing ever happened. This year is the 29th time I have worked as a volunteer for Sar-El. I always join a group from Canada, now we know each other well. I hope I can continue this for many years. ”
I would love to do Sar El again but know that there is only one first time and I would always be comparing the next experience to this one, which as I said, was wonderful. I keep reflecting back on it, and feel so lucky to have had this time there.
I am encouraging others to do it or at least to find out more about it.
This is my second trip with SAR-EL and it exceeded my expectations!
I very much appreciated the new accommodations at *base name redacted* especially the air conditioning, considering in the heat of September. The food was great, and the work, what I had expected. I was delighted to have been in such an international group- so many interesting people and so much to learn from them. Because people from so many countries came to volunteer for Israel, I felt that Israel was less alone in it’s fight against it’s many enemies.
The madrichem were helpful and pleasant. The trip to the was very meaningful, considering that you saw the very structure, in your walks in Jaffa, that were shown in the movies and exhibits. It’s too bad that we were only allowed one hour to see the exhibits.
I certainly will make every effort to return and to tell as many people as possible about this wonderful program. It was an honor and very poignant to sing at the memorial service.
Sandra L. Victoria, BC
I found this inspiring YouTube video about a double amputee veteran working as a Sar-El volunteer. You might recognize the medical supply base where he was working.
I thought I would share it with you.
Airport Arrival Time
Please note that due to so many late arrivals, we are going to insist that all volunteers make their travel plans so that they are on site in the airport no later than 12 noon on the program start date. We understand this is a process and we will be flexible for the next few months but its really important for now that we get our volunteers on the bus and to the bases earlier than we currently have.
Weekend Return Time
Also, on this note, we must insist that volunteers are ready to return to base on Sundays following the weekend by before 9am at Savidor Station. This has been a growing problem for the IDF and the fellow volunteers whom are waiting longer and longer each Sunday so buses will depart at 9am sharp on Sundays and late arrivals will have to arrange their own transportation at their own cost.
At last I was on the plane to Israel. Was this really happening? I had waited so long for this day and here I was, after 32 years, finally returning.
Arriving at Ben Gurion Airport, I proceeded to go through the security check-in. The first question asked of me was, “What is the purpose of your trip?” Continue reading “Adventure Of A Lifetime – Charleen G.”