Some 4,300 high school graduates began their year of volunteer service compared with 4,036 last year. Over the last seven years there has been an 85% increase in teens choosing to contribute and volunteer beyond their three years of military service.
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"We are very proud of this data, especially in light of the decrease in the number of teens enlisting to the IDF over the last few years," said Uri Dror a senior officer in the Defense Ministry's social department.
Friends of high school graduate Yehonatan Pardo from Tel Aviv wondered about his decision to enlist a year after most of his friends in order to volunteer at the Federation of Working and Studying Youth (HaNoar HaOved VeHaLomed) youth movement in Kiryat Ono.
"There were those who said I was wasting my time," Yehonatan noted. "But many people supported (my decision) and said they thought service in the community was an important thing," he added.
Around half of the teens volunteer through the military academies. "Over the last few years we are working with the IDF to increase the quota of volunteering youth," Dror added.
"Most of them (the volunteers) come from various youth movements, kibbutzim and moshavim and in the last few years olim and teens from low socio-economic backgrounds."
Shosh Elayev from Yerucham decided to defer her enlistment in favor of volunteering at the Rose middle School in Akko and in the local teen center.
"Precisely because I grew up in a city in the periphery I feel the need to give something of myself to others," she said. "When I was in high school we had people who were volunteers and they were a role model. They gave to me, and I feel the need to pass it on to others."
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