Magen David Adom intensive first aid training

Magen David Adom intensive first aid training

Sar-El Israel has an exciting new partnership with Magen David Adom that’s available to all volunteers.  Embark on a transformative journey with ‘Ne’eman Chaim,’ an immersive first aid intensive program available via Sar-El Israel in collaboration with Magen David Adom.

This specialized program enhances your two-week Sar-El volunteering experience by providing 20 hours of comprehensive first aid training, led by Magen David Adom experts.

The training will be split into two afternoons a week, from 4 pm to 9 pm, with dinner provided, as well as an entire Thursday when participants will spend the day at a MADA location.

The lessons focus on first aid, covering essential actions that can potentially save lives, such as addressing cardiac arrest and utilizing a defibrillator.

Acquire essential skills to respond confidently to emergencies, and upon program completion, receive a certificate recognizing your successful participation. The additional cost for this invaluable and empowering initiative is $300USD.

You can apply Here and indicate that you wish to join the MADA program.

Please note that the weekend (from Thursday to Sunday) is not included in the program.

You would use the same meeting points and transport as the regular volunteer program. See the program calendar for specially marked program dates.

A Sar-el Canada veteran returns for the third time

My name is Max Rams, and for me this was my third time coming back to Israel volunteering with SAR EL. Each experience  with Sar EL  has had both similarities and differences. Similar in that I was there to help do things that the IDF needed done so that soldiers could concentrate on what they needed to do, yet different because this time as the pilot announced that we are now in Israeli air space. I said to myself that I was home. Thank You Sar EL.

As you land you start to wonder what you will be doing and who you are going to meet. I think not knowing where you are going is part of the excitement.  On this trip I was going to Matzrap which is a medical base responsible for all of the medical supplies for the entire IDF.  I had  first heard a lot of good things about Matzrap and how important it is to the IDF from other volunteers on previous trips.

Getting to the base, we then get a chance to see our actual accommodations, and I have to say they were very nice. The men stayed on one floor and the women stayed on another. For the men the showers and everything else that we needed was just down the hall and I am sure that it was the same for the women. Our rooms were very spacious and even had air conditioning. Did I tell you that you could do your own laundry here?

Each day started with  breakfast at the hadar ochel (dining room),  followed by flag raising, the singing of Hatikvah, and the Madrichot giving us the news of the day. (every day a different person had the opportunity to raise the flag)

We were given army uniforms, and there was also a little ceremony where the Madrichot presented us with two shoulder epaulettes for our shirts that clearly identified us as volunteers.

Before starting our work assignmentsm we were introduced to various people  on the base, including the base commander..He welcomed us to the base and also gave us a synopsis of what this base does for the IDF. The commander spoke in Hebrew and one of our Madrichot  translated.. Hopefully after a few more times volunteering with Sar-El I might be fluent enough in Hebrew to not need someone translating for me.

Various jobs on this base included packing vests for the medics, packing the large bags used in setting up field hospitals, checking unused vests and medical bags for out-of-date or soon to expire equipment and supplies, and distribution of all of the above.

We would have a break for lunch and come back to continue our work in the afternoon. If we finished early.  Instead of going back to the barracks we always looked to help the other volunteers do what they were doing.

After our jobs were completed for the day we went back to the barracks. We showered and got ready for dinner. The day did not end there.  We had an evening activity that was planned by the Madrichot. This activity educated us on the State of Israel, The IDF, Hebrew Slang and so much more.

This was our routine for the time that we were there. I would not change a thing.

This story first appeared in the Hamilton Jewish News and is reproduced with the permission of the author.

Sar-El Proposal on Masada!

Sar-El Proposal on Masada!

After many years of thinking about participating in Sar-El Janice and I finally committed to volunteering for a 3 week period this past March.

What Janice didn’t know was that I also had another motive for going to Israel. I was going to propose to her after knowing her for 50 years with a 40 year interlude!

Read the rest of the story here.

Ruth’s first tour

By  Ruth M.

It was on a ‘UJA Walk With Israel’ last summer that I first heard about Sar-El. My cousin’s wife and I had been swapping travel stories- She was telling me about her travels through France and I was telling her about my recent tour of Israel that had been a long-anticipated retirement gift to myself. I expressed my desire to visit Israel again, but without the traditional tour experience.

That was when she told me about her mother’s involvement with Sar-El. It sounded like exactly what I had been looking for- time in Israel, plus the ability to support the country in a meaningful and tangible way while allowing me the time and flexibility to explore the country on my own. That was when my investigations began.

After searching for Sar-El on the internet, watching related YouTube videos and reading reviews, it seemed ideal. I would be able to choose my date and length of stay- from 1 to 3 weeks. In return for my labour on an IDF base I would be provided with room, board, a uniform, educational experiences, as well as the opportunity to meet other like-minded individuals from around the world and of varying ages.

It was at this point that I made contact with Vera at Canada’s National Sar-El office, based in Toronto. She proceeded to send me contact information for the local area rep. in order to arrange for a face-to-face interview. After receiving approval from him I completed the on-line application form, passed a physical from my family physician, then eagerly awaited acceptance from Sar-El in Israel.

Upon receiving confirmation of acceptance into the program, all further communications with Sar-El Canada staff were helpful and timely. This was reassuring for an inexperienced traveler like myself. I decided on the 2-week option. What I actually experienced surpassed my expectations. Shortly before my start date I received a meeting point, a packing list as well as a schedule of volunteer dates and time on my own. I was able to pre-plan my stay in Israel, taking advantage of new sights and destinations as well as allowing me the opportunity to revisit adventures from the previous year.

We met at the predetermined location at Ben Gurion Airport where we were introduced to our Madrichah- the soldier who was responsible for our group for the coming week. From there we were bussed to our designated army base. Women and men were housed in barracks on separate floors where we shared a room with 2 or 3 others from our group. After an initial orientation, we settled in for work the next day. During the two weeks that I spent with the program, we volunteers completed tasks ranging from sorting and filling ration bags, rewiring combat helmets, organizing and loading skids, packing medical supplies, and more.

Working next to my fellow volunteers led to wonderful new experiences and challenges and a strong sense of comradeship. Each week we met a new group of people from diverse backgrounds, making friends and creating a bond as we all worked towards a similar goal while fulfilling our own personal hopes and goals in the process. “Would you do it again?”, I was asked. Without hesitation my answer is, “Yes.”

 Ruth M. is a retired teacher living in Burlington.

Honoring David Ben-Gurion and my Uncle

By Steve Schaefer

When volunteering for Sar El, my wife and I once were working at a base not far from Kibbutz Sde Boker, where Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion had a second home.  He loved the Negev and believed that the future of the State of Israel depended upon populating the Negev.  On an afternoon excursion, our volunteer group had the opportunity to visit Sde Boker.  With that, another opportunity opened for me – to honour both my Uncle Yakov and David Ben-Gurion.

Uncle Yakov was a pioneer (Halutz) having come to Palestine from Germany as a young man in the late 1920’s.  He had been a member of the Blau-Weis (Blue-White) and later the He-Halutz (Pioneer) youth movements, both Zionist organizations. The latter prepared Jewish youth for making Aliyah (immigrating) to Palestine.  Prior to emigrating to Palestine Uncle Yakov was sponsored by He-Halutz in studying cheese making in Germany and Switzerland.  He spent his life working for dairies in Palestine/Israel managing the manufacture of many different cheeses.  He was sent by the Jewish Agency to Holland to purchase the first automated milking machine for Palestine.

He never ran for political office but was a member of Ben-Gurion’s Labour party.  He often wrote background material for politicians to use in their speeches, and he admired Ben-Gurion greatly. He also admired one of Ben-Gurion’s protégés, Teddy Kollek, who was mayor of Jerusalem for almost thirty years.

When Uncle Yakov retired, he moved into a seniors home in Tel Aviv which had a very small pottery studio with a small kiln.  He had done some painting before he retired, but he had always wanted to be a sculptor. He especially desired to sculpt a life size bust of Ben-Gurion and give it as a present to Teddy Kollek.  However, the kiln in the studio was too small for a full size bust, so he created the sculpture in two sections, which fit together.

By the time he finished the sculpture he was well into his eighties and no longer able to travel to Jerusalem to present the sculpture to Mayor Kollek. Therefore, he asked my cousin Yudit, his daughter, to present it to Kollek.  However, after many frustrating attempts to get an appointment with Mayor Kollek, my uncle gave up and presented the sculpture to my wife and me.  The sculpture had a place of honour in our house for many years.

On the Sar El excursion to Sde Boker we visited Ben-Gurion’s house, where I saw a copy of the photograph that my uncle had used in creating his sculpture of Ben-Gurion.  I told the docent who was leading our group about my Uncle Yakov and the bust of Ben-Gurion. I suggested that the bust might be better located in the museum at Sde Boker than in my house. I asked whether she thought that Kibbutz Sde Boker would like to have the sculpture.  The following year when my wife and I came to volunteer with Sar El, we first delivered the bust of Ben-Gurion to the museum in Sde Boker.  Now it sits on a pedestal in an acrylic case in the lecture room of the museum with a brief written description of the pioneer cheese maker, who became a sculptor when he was in his seventies. After wandering without a home and living in the Diaspora for many years, my uncle’s “David Ben-Gurion” sculpture is permanently back where I think it always was meant to be – in Ben-Gurion’s kibbutz in the Negev in the State of Israel.

My Bar Mitzvah in the Desert

I have been a regular Sarel participant since 2008 and have always found the experience enjoyable and rewarding. On my most recent tour, however, something unparalleled took place- an experience that will remain with me for the rest of my life. By way of background: My late parents were Hungarian holocaust survivors, the horrors of which included the internment of my father in Auschwitz. Because of this, as often happens in such families, my father downplayed my Jewishness in order to protect me from ever having to endure what he had. I understood and appreciated why my father did as he did, but as I grew older, I increasingly embraced and expressed my Jewishness. The fact remained, though, I never did have a bar mitzvah.
One afternoon after our workday, two of my fellow Sarelniks and I were chatting casually in our dorm and my own history came up. They asked whether I had ever had a bar mitzvah, and I said no. They said they knew of a situation where a bar mitzvah was held on a base for a Jewish man who had never had one.
I will never forget my response. Without a second‘s hesitation, I declared “I want that!“. Clearly, something inside me that had remained dormant for decades in that instant came to the fore. I asked my buddies if they could try and arrange this. The matter got boosted up the chain through our madrichim to the base commander, and at 6:45 a.m. the following Monday, at age 74, I was having my bar mitzvah! This on an IDF base in the middle of the Negev.
The sincere joy expressed by the Israeli soldiers and civilians who attended was palpable. And there was no questioning as to why an old guy like me was doing this, how come I was not conversant with all the rituals, and so on. One of the soldiers took it on himself to mentor me. (He could not speak English and my Hebrew is equivalent to a 3-year-old’s, but fortunately, we could communicate in French.) I did know the blessings for the Torah reading, and they gladly filled in for me regarding the other requirements.
One of the attendees even came armed with a pocketful of traditional hard candies to fling at me as I carried the Torah through the synagogue, and a table was set out back with celebratory snacks for us to enjoy after services.
Apparently, word had got out about this event, such that soldiers who had not been there that morning and whom I had never met, came up to me to wish me mazal tov. I was so elated, and still am, regarding the entire experience.
I want to thank my roomies for planting the seed, the madrichim for carrying the idea further, and the soldiers and commanders involved in organizing the event. And above all, I thank G-d for blessing me in this way.


Marcia’s First Time (Mostly un-censored)

Dear Dale,
This was my first Sar-El experience, and it proved to be above and
beyond my expectations !
The written material was detailed and helpful in preparing for my adventure, the check-in went smoothly, and with some difficulty I was successful in obtaining the all-important Rav Kav card.
I was delighted to find that our accommodations on the base were even better than I had expected, and I appreciated the semi-private room, the indoor plumbing, and the heat/air conditioning on [Base Name Removed] (even  though the heat refused to work when all 12 rooms insisted  on turning on the heat at the same time).  When others joined us part-way through the 3 weeks, from a base where they slept on cots, and had no heat, I understood that [Base Name Removed] really is the Taj Mahal  of Sar El bases.
Our three young Madrichot were charming, resourceful, sympathetic, effective, and completely delightful.  They worked hard to produce up-beat morning news bulletins and interesting evening programs, and did their best to solve our individual and group   problems.  And when our trip to an archeological dig was rained out, they didn’t just give up, but, in conjunction with their advisors on home base, solved the problem, changed the itinerary, and found us a different archeology dig to visit. Somehow I had not known to expect trips and evening programs, so  appreciated them even more. I think that I appreciated the evening programs by former IDF soldiers who spoke to us of their lives and their experiences, especially the young blind soldier, most of all.   Also, I had not anticipated meeting so many interesting fellow “Sar Elniks” from so many countries, (Romania, Hungary, the Netherlands, the Czeck Republic) and I enjoyed their company and learning about their lives.
Our work was basic and often repetitive, (my sister and I worked packaging hemostats), but we understood that it was helpful, and our boss, Avi, was appreciative.  He, and the one other warehouse boss who I met, Moshiach, both expressed their appreciation of the work that the Sar El volunteers do, and the contribution that Sar El makes to Israel’s defense.
Finally, on the negative side, during our three weeks, other Sar Elniks  began arriving at [Base Name Removed] from other bases where “there was   no work for us” and/or “ the living conditions were very rudimentary”.  Unfortunately, negatives often shout louder than positives, and I’m told that while every compliment finds three listeners, every  complaint finds ten. For me, if circumstances allow me to return, I might consider requesting [Base Name Removed] , (thus limiting my experience), but for others, those negatives might dissuade them from joining Sar El altogether.   I imagine that those in charge are already quite aware of this small difficulty and are  working to solve this minor problem.