by Mackenzie Landi

Along with seeing the sights, why not use your vacation time to connect with Israelis working to make the world a better place?

Tikkun olam, the Jewish value of “repairing the world,” is a dynamic daily reality in Israel. If you’re planning a visit, you can participate too. There are many “voluntouring” activities accessible for English-speakers.

In addition to our suggestions for one-time, short-term or long-term volunteering opportunities in Israel, visit the Ruach Tova (“Good Spirit”) website to find many other options.

Serve the hungry

10 ways to help society on your holiday in Israel
Photo courtesy of Meir Panim soup kitchens

Soup kitchens welcome foreign volunteers to help prepare food, plate and serve.

Contact Meir Panim, which has locations throughout Israel, to make an appointment to volunteer at a soup kitchen or food packing activity.

The Carmei Ha’Ir soup kitchen near Jerusalem’s Machane Yehuda marketplace welcomes volunteers from 10 to 2:30, Sunday through Thursday. Information: info@carmeihair.org.il.

Lasova soup kitchens in Tel Aviv, Acre (Akko) and Carmiel welcome volunteers throughout the year. The organization also has other volunteer opportunities, such as picking up surplus food, at diverse hours around the country.

Interact with the elderly

Every weekday, Melabev has three English-speaking groups at its day center for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Talpiot.

Volunteers of any age are welcome to help the all English-speaking staff for any amount of time and in any way they prefer: serving food, socializing one-on-one with clients, leading or assisting in group music or art activities. Email liatH@melabev.org for details.

Pack food for the needy

10 ways to help society on your holiday in Israel
Photo courtesy of Pantry Packers

Colel Chabad, Israel’s oldest charitable organization, runs Pantry Packers – a 90-minute opportunity for English-speaking tourists (ages four and up) to pack rice, beans and other staples for delivery to poor families throughout Israel. Click here to schedule your visit. If you’re not part of a group, Pantry Packers will add you to one.

10 ways to help society on your holiday in Israel
Volunteers packing weekly food baskets at Ohr Meir & Bracha in Jerusalem. Photo courtesy of Ohr Meir & Bracha

Ohr Meir & Bracha needs volunteers every Thursday morning to bag fresh produce that will go into weekly food baskets for Israelis unable to function after experiencing a terror attack. Individuals can go without prior arrangement to the outdoor logistics site at 3 Yakim Street in Jerusalem. Groups may register in advance. Click here for further details and a map.

Leket Israel, the national food bank, invites families to glean vegetables and fruits for the needy at its Rishon LeZion farms or sort and pack the produce at its Logistics Center in Gan Haim near Kfar Saba. Click here for registration information.

Clean up beaches

Tuesdays for Trash accepts volunteers to help with its monthly group cleanups of beaches in the Tel Aviv area. Join the WhatsApp group or email tuesdaysfortrash@gmail.com to find out how to participate.

Assist people with disabilities

10 ways to help society on your holiday in Israel
A volunteer from the semester-in-Israel program at JNF-USA’s Alexander Muss High School assisting a resident of ADI Negev. Photo courtesy of ADI

If you’re 18 to 65, you can assist in educational and therapeutic activities at ADI Negev-Nahalat Eran or ADI Jerusalem, rehab facilities caring for children and young adults with severe disabilities. Click here for details and a volunteering application. Some of the tasks require a minimum commitment of five days a week for four weeks or longer.

The Jerusalem national headquarters of Yad Sarah, a voluntary organization providing free medical equipment loans and many other free health-related services throughout Israel, offers visitors a tour culminating in a workshop where you will assemble crutches. To schedule your tour, email visitors@yadsarah.org.il or call 972-2-644-4687.

Build and revitalize communities

Ramat HaNegev Regional Council offers organized group voluntouring opportunities in southern Israel through its partnership with Jewish National Fund-USA. The volunteers assist local residents with small building or renovation projects (such as constructing a shaded sitting area) and also participate in guided tours and fun activities. Email hadassn@rng.org.il to find out more.

10 ways to help society on your holiday in Israel
Photo courtesy of Makom Pioneers

Makom Pioneers, a JNF-USA supported network of communities working to empower and revitalize towns in the Negev and Galilee, welcomes foreign volunteers to assist in many ways: paint buildings, play with kids in afterschool programs, socialize with seniors, pack and deliver food boxes, or set up for community Shabbat meals. Email info@makompioneers.org.il to arrange your visit.

Help at an army base

Sar-El Volunteers for Israel offers two-week and three-week options for staying on an Israel Defense Forces base, Sunday to Thursday, performing civilian support duties such as packing medical supplies, repairing machinery and equipment, packing and checking equipment, and cleaning, painting and maintaining the base. Cultural events, lectures and activities are available each evening and volunteers are free to go off base on weekends. Click here for info.

Work on a kibbutz

Volunteering on a kibbutz is a classic way to meet Israelis and volunteers from across the globe, and experience hands-on communal living. Celebrities such as Jerry Seinfeld, Sacha Baron Cohen, Helen Mirren and Bob Dylan did it.

The Kibbutz Movement Volunteer Program Center accepts applicants between 18 and 35, in good health, and able to commit to at least two months of work in a variety of jobs from farms and orchards to factories and tourist facilities.

Get your hands into agriculture

Minkoff Citrus Orchard in Rehovot welcomes volunteers to spend about two hours pulling weeds, raking leaves and doing other maintenance of orange trees on this orchard planted in 1904. Bonus: you’ll get a free 40-minute tour of the heritage site and its museum showing the story of citrus-growing in Israel from its earliest pre-state days. Email Pardes_m@shimur.org.il for details.

Halutza Farm in the northwest Negev, a JNF-USA affiliate, offers one-day volunteer experiences in its greenhouses and dairy farm. Volunteers must be at least 18. For information, email Halutza@jnf.org.

10 ways to help society on your holiday in Israel
Photo courtesy of LivinGood Farm, Jordan Valley.

LivinGood, a family-run organic grape, date and olive farm in Hamra in the Jordan Valley, invites volunteers to apply for seasonal work (August to October, six hours per day, five days per week) doing farming and gardening in exchange for free room and board. Email livingoodorganicfarm@gmail.com for information.

Hostel help

If you become a hostel volunteer at an Abraham Hostel (Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Eilat, Nazareth or Sinai) for six to nine weeks in exchange for free bed-and-breakfast accommodation in a mixed-gender dorm room, you’ll make new friends and experience nightlife and beaches, history and hummus.

Volunteers must be between 21 and 35, willing to work five days a week for six to eight hours a day. Tasks include serving breakfast, helping at evening social events and morning tour departures, assisting at the bar, escorting guests to the starting point of walking tours and accompanying the Dead Sea tour. On days off, volunteers can stay at a different Abraham hostel for free, based on availability.

Originally posted at israel21c.org


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