Volunteering Opportunities in Israel: Find the Best Program

Volunteering in a foreign country is a great way to learn more about the local culture, meet new people, and make a difference. Long ago, when traveling in China and Africa, I always tried combining volunteering programs between my travel legs. By volunteering, I could experience the destinations in a whole different way. Now, when there’s a war in Israel, I see a lot of people coming from abroad to volunteer in Israel. So, if you’re also thinking about coming to volunteer – whether during the war or after it’s over – here are some of the best volunteering opportunities in Israel.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through the links, at no extra cost to you. These links help me keep the website alive and not depend on sponsors! Thank you in advance.

Volunteering in a kibbutz

A kibbutz is a kind of settlement that exists only in Israel. The kibbutz is a collective community that lives, eats, and works together, sharing resources and responsibilities equally. In the past, the kibbutzim – plural for “kibbutz” – were based mainly on agriculture. Today, the kibbutz members work in a variety of fields, some of them outside the kibbutz. Unfortunately, many kibbutzim have changed their communal character and are now much less of a kibbutz in its traditional sense. Still, the kibbutzim are a symbol of solidarity and cooperation between the Israeli people and are proof that if we work together, we can create beautiful things.

As a volunteer in the kibbutz, you’ll live in the kibbutz, experience the kibbutz life, and, of course, help with whatever the kibbutz needs. That may include working in the farms or the orchards of the kibbutz. In return, you’ll receive free accommodation and food. In the kibbutzim that have become privatized, you might need to prepare your own meals.

Is there a minimum time commitment? Volunteers must commit to a minimum of 10 weeks.

Who can qualify for this program? People between the ages of 18 and 35, with good health and a good understanding of English.

Learn more and apply for the program on the Kibbutz Volunteers Program Center website.

Here’s a nice video by Unpacked which tells about the history and life of the kibbutzim:

Volunteer in the IDF with Sar-El 

If you want to volunteer in the IDF, you can try contacting Sar-El. This non-profit organization brings volunteers to IDF bases, where they can assist the IDF with non-combat duties. You get a set of IDF uniform and experience life on the base. Usually, the work is connected to logistics, for example, packing equipment and food supplies for soldiers. Outside work hours, you get to participate in fun and interesting activities with the IDF soldiers and learn more about life in Israel.

Is there a minimum time commitment? There are 2-week and 3-week programs, which can be extended subject to permission.

Who can qualify for this program? People who are older than 16, who are in good physical and mental health.

Learn more and apply to this program on the Sar-El website.

You can learn more about this program through this video by Emily Frances “Holy Land Uncovered”:

Volunteer with Jeff Seidel’s “BBQs for Israel Defense Soldiers” 

Another way to support the IDF – specifically now, during the war – is to volunteer in Jeff Seidel’s new initiative – “BBQs for Israel Defense Soldiers.” This initiative is meant to boost the morale of Israeli soldiers in between the fighting. As a volunteer, you’ll ride a bus to one of the army bases and help there with operating the BBQ event, which includes good food and music. 

Jeff Seidel is in charge of several initiatives in Israel, including “Get Shabbat,” which connects Jewish students or travelers to families who are happy to host Shabbat dinners in Jerusalem. 

For more information about the volunteer work, WhatsApp Jeff at +972522867795. You can also donate to this initiative here.

Leket Israel: Picking and sorting agricultural produce for the needy

Leket Israel is the leading food rescue organization in Israel that focuses on rescuing healthy, surplus food and delivering it to those in need. When volunteering with Leket Israel, you can choose from picking fresh produce from the fields or sorting and packing the produce in the organization’s logistics center. There are also other volunteering options that are more office-related work, like translation, programming, and more.

Is there a minimum time commitment? No minimum time is required.

Who can qualify for this program? People in good health. No previous experience is required.

Learn more and apply to this program on the Leket Israel website.

Here’s a video about Leket Israel’s work by Leket Israel:

Livnot U’Lehibanot: Volunteer in restoring the Western Negev

In Hebrew, “Livnot U’Lehibanot” means “to build and be built.” This non-profit organization aims to connect Jewish people around Israel and the world to their Jewish roots and the Land of Israel. Livnot U’Lehibanot volunteers participate in various projects, mainly connected to rebuilding things. Now, following the attack on the 7th of October, the volunteers are focused mainly in the area that was affected, the Western Negev. So, if you choose to join the program now, you might be renovating bomb shelters, kindergartens, and playgrounds that have been burned down, cooking for IDF soldiers who are still fighting in Gaza, and helping with picking vegetables and fruits on the local farms.  

Since the program is also meant to connect you to your Jewish roots, you will also attend evening educational classes, where you’ll be taught about geopolitics and Jewish values.

Is there a minimum time commitment? Volunteers must commit to at least one week.

Learn more and apply to the program on the Livnot U’Lehibanot website.

Volunteer on organic Israeli farms with WWOOF 

WWOOF is an international organization that connects volunteers to organic farms worldwide. Israel is a great destination for agriculture lovers since it is full of agricultural fields and farms from the north to the south. There are also many organic farms in Israel. Some grow olive trees, some grow fruits and vegetables, some breed bees and produce honey, and some breed goats and make delicious cheese. You have a lot of options to choose from!

By volunteering on an organic farm, you can learn about organic ways of living and receive free food and accommodation.

Is there a minimum time commitment? A minimum of two nights is required. Of course, you can extend your stay as long as the farmer confirms. 

Who can qualify for this program? People in good health, above 18 years old.

Learn more and apply to the program on the WWOOF Israel website.

Volunteer in the mystical city of Safed with Ascent

Ascent is a hostel in the city of Safed (or Tzfat), one of the four holy cities of Judaism, nestled in the hills of the Upper Galilee. Safed is known as “the City of Kabbalah,” and Kabbalah is a school of thought in Jewish mysticism. So, besides being a hostel, Ascent also serves as a center for learning Jewish mysticism and connecting to this spiritual school of thought. If you choose to volunteer at Ascent, you will get a chance not only to help the people of Safed and its surroundings but also to participate in fascinating and enriching daily classes, workshops, and activities run by Ascent.

While volunteering in Safed, you might help at soup kitchens, assist at elderly centers, participate in agricultural activities, and take care of the Ascent hostel itself. The accommodation isn’t free, but it’s much cheaper than the actual price.

Is there a minimum time commitment? No minimum time is required.

Who can qualify for this program? People in good health, above 18 years old.

Learn more and apply to the program on Ascent’s website.  

Volunteering at hostels

Lastly, there’s always an option to volunteer at Israeli hostels. There are dozens of hostels in Israel, in main cities like Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa, but also in more rural areas such as the Golan Heights, the Galilee, and the Negev Desert.

Volunteer work at hostels usually consists of cleaning, preparing breakfast, maintaining the hostels, and renovating wherever needed. In return for your volunteering work, the hostels usually provide accommodation and food, and you get time off two or more days a week to explore Israel.

To find hostel volunteering opportunities in Israel, you can contact the ILH network, which consists of over 30 independent hostels all around the country. You can reach them at info@hostels-israel.com and ask if they can connect you to a hostel in need. Another option is to check opportunities on WorkAway, a website that gathers all kinds of volunteering opportunities around the globe.

Travel insurance

If your volunteering program does not include insurance, I highly recommend getting one.  World Nomads offers coverage for more than 150 activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation, and more.

Disclaimer: I receive a fee when you get a quote from World Nomads using this link. I do not represent World Nomads. This is not a recommendation to buy travel insurance.
 
Now, when there’s a war in Israel, you might encounter problems getting insurance. In this case, I recommend checking about insurance with Harel Yedidim, a local Israeli insurance company which can provide health insurance for tourists also during the war. 

Conclusion 

Israel might be small, but there are plenty of volunteering opportunities all around the country. Whether you want to volunteer for the IDF, take part in Israeli agriculture, or help out at the local hostels – you have many volunteering in Israel! Wishing you the best experience possible! 

Do you know about other recommended volunteering programs in Israel? Let me know in the comments or contact me.

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If you need any more advice, please don’t hesitate to send me a message on my Facebook page or to contact me at lior@backpackisrael.com.

If you’re searching for a tour guide in Israel, I also offer private tours in Israel.

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Yours,

Lior

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