Whatever your level of Hebrew, whatever your age, & however long your trip, there are many great ways to volunteer in Israel.
Volunteer vacations for seniors are very popular, with travelers aged 50+ heading off to the most far-flung corners of the world to volunteer in projects serving the local populations. It’s tempting to head off to exotic destinations, but many Jewish baby boomers want to donate their time and energy in reaching out to help our Jewish brothers and sisters. Jewish seniors who volunteer in Israel find that it’s a great way to combine a vacation, a change of scene, and the satisfaction of having helped others. Whether you want to make a special trip to volunteer in Israel or you visit often, no matter how poor your Hebrew is and whatever your age, we have some great recommendations for visitors to volunteer in Israel.
Pantry Packers® in Jerusalem is an exciting, free-of-charge, 90 minute hands-on opportunity for tourists wanting to volunteer in Israel to pack commodity food staples for Israel’s poorest families. You need to book in advance as a group, or call to find out if there’s a group you can join. Tourists aged 8-80 are given a brief orientation session before donning gloves, aprons and caps in order to fill bags of rice, beans and other commodities. These bags, which bear a sticker with the name of the packing group, will later be included in large food baskets destined for needy families throughout the country. All the recipient families have been identified by government agencies as needy. For more information and registration, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 972 2-626-0035
Melabev is a leading eldercare organization in Israel, supporting lonely well elders and those suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s. Tourists who’d like to volunteer in Israel can fill one of many different roles at Melabev for short or longer periods of time: driving well seniors to day centers; working directly with the elderly sharing a talent or just conversing at a daycare center or memory club; reassuring callers at Melabev’s central telephone switchboard (both Hebrew and English speakers are needed); or working in the administration or public relations offices.
Leket Israel is the country’s largest food bank and food rescue network actively working to alleviate the problem of nutritional insecurity among Israel’s diverse population. Jewish baby boomers and the good-hearted of all ages can volunteer in Israel to glean extra crops from the fields; repackage and prepare food baskets for donation; rescue and redeliver surplus food; and deliver food to various food distribution agencies.
Ohr Meir v’Bracha:
Ohr Meir v’Bracha was set up to support the families of terror victims, but has extended beyond that to help anyone in Israel suffering from poverty. Their hallmark project is the distribution of hundreds weekly food baskets to the needy. Volunteers of all ages are welcomed to help package the baskets.
National Council for Volunteering in Israel:
The National Council for Volunteering in Israel is a central body that organizes volunteer opportunities in Israel. They have an extremely comprehensive online database of opportunities for tourists to volunteer in Israel, organized alphabetically. Visit them to find out more options for volunteering in Israel for seniors.
Volunteers For Israel (VFI):
An organization connecting American volunteers of all ages to do much-needed service work in Israel. The IDF Base Option program is run entirely in English. You’ll work on a logistics IDF base, Sunday to Thursday, for 1, 2 or 3 weeks, carrying out non-combat civilian support duties such as packing medical supplies; repairing machinery and equipment; building fortifications; and cleaning, painting, and maintaining the base. Working alongside soldiers, base employees, and other volunteers, you will help Israel shoulder its defense burden. Other special programs are offered from time to time.
Dental Volunteers for Israel (DVI):
DVI in Jerusalem is the largest free dental clinic in all of Israel, offering state-of-the-art treatment to Jerusalem’s at-risk children and youth only, thanks to volunteer dentists from all corners of the world. Dentists from around the world with at least two years professional experience can volunteer in Israel, working at the DVI free clinic in Jerusalem for one week or more. Free accommodation is provided. No knowledge of Hebrew is needed.
Ruach Tova (“Good Spirit” in Hebrew) is the leading Israeli organization in the field of volunteering, specializing in matching people who want to volunteer in Israel with organizations in need of assistance. Ruach Tova operates a Volunteer Management System with a nationwide database containing over 4,200 organizations and thousands of volunteering projects in Israel, to match volunteers to places in need of assistance. Ruach Tova assists people from all over the world and provides volunteer opportunities in a variety of languages. Visit their website to search the database.
Skilled Volunteers for Israel:
Skilled Volunteers for Israel matches experienced professionals with meaningful skilled opportunities to volunteer in Israel. We link the expertise of North American & British Jews with the critical needs of Israel through limited-term volunteer engagements. Volunteer to meet a need that’s been identified by our partners, or we will design an opportunity for you based on your skills and interests.
The Canadian American Active Retirees In Israel offers a 2 – 7 week tour in Israel every year in January-February. The tour includes service learning; volunteer work; educational forums covering Israeli history and current issues; and relaxing and fun trips to Israel’s beauty spots and special attractions. Jewish baby boomers can choose to participate in the full seven week tour, or can select different program options to include various aspects of the tour.
Kibbutz Volunteers is an organization that arranges for visitors from overseas to spend some time volunteering on a kibbutz. It’s the archetypal Israeli volunteer experience, and open to all ages. Although the classic kibbutz volunteer experience involves manual labor in the fields, which might become a little uncomfortable for older volunteers, many kibbutzim now specialize in tourism work or service industries. The volunteer in Israel program offers 3 meals a day and free accommodation in the kibbutz, in exchange for work in the kibbutz’s particular area. You can contact Kibbutz Volunteers via their website or by email email@example.com to arrange your kibbutz volunteer experience.