Thousands of Americans are signing up for volunteer opportunities in Israel. Stand with the Jewish people and help them to rebuild and heal their country after the massacres of October 7th.
Israel has fought several wars for national survival in its short history. In 1967, the Israelis astonished the world by fighting on three fronts simultaneously and decisively defeating the massed Arab armies. The campaigns of 1967 left the Israeli kibbutzim short of workers as men of military age were recalled to the army.
What followed was an extraordinary wave of volunteering. People flocked to Israel from around the world – Jews and non Jews alike – to live on the kibbutzim and work in the fields, factories and orchards. The volunteers lived like kibbutzniks, sharing their way of life and receiving pocket money and cultural activities in return.
Now Israel is at war again. The battered nation desperately needs volunteers to gather in the harvests, help with almost 200,000 displaced people, and run welfare programs for IDF soldiers and reservists who are protecting the country and fighting to eliminate terror. The extraordinary volunteer spirit of ‘67 is returning and Israel is welcoming its friends from the US and around the world who want to come and help out!
The Background – October 7th
At dawn on October 7th – a quiet holiday weekend – the terror group Hamas launched a surprise attack on the South of Israel. Gangs of armed thugs burst through the border fence and began a murderous rampage that lasted throughout the day and into the night.
Their attack on the unsuspecting civilian population was truly savage. The terrorists filmed themselves committing vile atrocities against entire families. No act was too depraved or too cruel for the Hamas attackers. Even children were raped, tortured and murdered. The final death toll is more than 1,200 Israelis, with 5,000 wounded, 240 kidnapped and held in underground prisons, and 200,000 driven from their homes.
The Israeli Army is now fighting deep in Gaza, its troops sworn to eradicate Hamas and restore peace to the South. The IDF is a citizen army and depends on reservists to reach its fighting strength. Around 18% of the civilian workforce answered the call and is back in uniform. The burden of service is also felt by those at home, as anxious mothers and grandparents care for children and run the households – often in fear of Hamas rocket attacks.
Current Volunteer Opportunities in Israel
As Israel fights for national survival against a barbarian enemy, there are several key challenges on the home front. These are just some of the urgent volunteer opportunities in Israel right now.
- Maintaining agriculture and farming
- Providing assistance for displaced people
- Caring for the injured, traumatized and bereaved
- Supporting IDF soldiers with care and welfare programs
- Helping with ordinary social and welfare projects
- Rebuilding looted, damaged and burned out communities
Fly to Israel as Part of a Volunteer Program
Gil Travel is organizing trips to Israel for volunteers that combine volunteer opportunities in the South with cultural excursions and visits to important religious and historical sites. You’ll also have plenty of chances to meet Israelis at organized social gatherings, and spontaneously on a day to day basis.
There are all kinds of volunteer opportunities in Israel right now, but one of the most urgent requirements is for help on the farms and fields in Israel’s battered South. The Gaza border area is a major contributor to the country’s agricultural industry and farmers are under huge pressure. Many previously depended on foreign workers from Thailand and other countries.
Hamas ruthlessly murdered or kidnapped any foreign workers it encountered and the remainder were evacuated to their countries of origin. The labor crisis is exacerbated by the fact that almost all men of military age are now serving in the army. Ordinary Israelis, including many pensioners, have been coming together on WhatsApp groups and volunteering to harvest crops and perform other chores on the farms.
Many groups just get up early and drive down for a day. Even a few hours spent picking tomatoes in the greenhouses, or harvesting other crops makes a big difference to struggling farmers. Despite the tragic circumstances that led to the volunteering, there’s a real community spirit. Most volunteers have a good time and enjoy the break in their daily routines. They go home tired, but happy.
When you volunteer for a day in the South, everything will be organized for you. The intense summer heat has already passed, and nobody is expected to attempt any tasks that are too physically demanding. The work is important, but it is also enjoyable and there is a great working atmosphere among the volunteers. Your tour guide will ensure that there is plenty to eat and drink.
Your trip to the South may include the option to visit the ruined kibbutzim and see the damage first hand, and to meet survivors. Many of these brave people have already returned to keep kibbutz owned businesses like factories and print shops running, and to rebuild their shattered communities. You’ll also get a briefing on the current military situation and the ongoing war on terror.
Is it Safe to Travel and Volunteer in Israel?
Generally speaking, it is currently safe to travel, although certain common sense security precautions apply. Hamas has been contained within the Gaza strip. It is surrounded by some of the IDF’s best armored and infantry divisions and pinned down by the air force. The rocket attacks that blighted life in Israel for so long have largely abated. The police and security forces are vigilant across the rest of Israel and people are going about their daily business without undue fear.
All Israel volunteer programs are carefully structured to reflect local realities. There are daily risk assessments, in coordination with the security forces, to ensure that volunteers are not exposed to any dangers. Each tour itinerary is flexible enough to allow changes at a moment’s notice. Israel is full of wonderful people to meet and interesting places to visit. You tour guides and organizers will make sure that you experience the best that Israel has to offer.
Explore Israel and Meet Israelis
Volunteering is an important part of your trip, but you will also have the opportunity to visit some of Israel’s most famous biblical and archaeological sites. Some of our most popular destinations are Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall as well as the archaeological treasures of the City of David and the Davidson Center. You’ll also get a chance to enjoy some of Israel’s best Jewish cuisine in the city’s restaurants.
No trip to Israel is complete without a tour of the North. The hills of the Galilee are particularly beautiful after the first autumn rains and the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) is magnificent. You can explore the area with a jeep trip and a boat ride, as well as a walking tour of the religious and historical center of Tiberias. The North is the jewel at the heart of Israel and you’ll get a completely new perspective of the country.
Become a Volunteer
Volunteering in Israel is a unique and life changing experience. Your visit to Israel will make a real difference and is the single most effective way to show solidarity and support for the Jewish people. You’ll make personal connections and gain insights that will last a lifetime. As a volunteer, you’ll witness firsthand some of the suffering that Israelis have endured, but you’ll also see – and contribute to – the spirit, determination and resilience that makes Israel such a special country.
Can anybody volunteer?
Yes, the work isn’t arduous or stressful and everybody is welcome. If you are elderly or have health issues, you’ll still be welcome to visit the farming communities. You’ll be helping out just by showing up and displaying solidarity with the residents.
Are your Israel volunteer programs safe?
We don’t expose volunteers to any kind of risks. Your professional tour guide will liaise with the security forces and we will make any necessary security arrangements for your group. Life is getting back to normal across Israel. Away from the frontlines, people are returning to their daily peacetime routines. There is a war in Gaza, not in Israel.
Will I witness anything traumatic on the Kibbutzim?
The whole situation is desperately sad. A lot of ordinary people have been traumatized by the violence and tragedies of October 7th. When you attend volunteer opportunities in Israel, or just explore the country, you may meet people who have shocking and heartbreaking stories to tell. However, your professional tour guides will approach each situation with sensitivity and flexibility. Nobody will be shown any traumatic sights or exposed to any disturbing material against their will.
Are the tours suitable for children?
We’d say yes, but each family will have its own idea about what is suitable for their children. Talk to us if you have any concerns or questions.