Photo: Efi Shrir
Choosing a different route
Photo: Efi Shrir

Serving, but not in the army

Here are the dry facts: one in four young people will not enlist this year. We will not go into the reasons, but we suggest an alternative: 15 questions and answers about National Service

The subject of National Service (Sherut Leumi) is about to undergo a revolution thanks to the establishment of a National Service Administration headed by Dr. Reuven Gal. This new body is set to start work in January and will implement the recommendations of the Ivri Committee.


What did the Ivri Committee determine? The committee recommended that National Service be obligatory. Its main conclusion was that there is a need to create an equal framework of military and civilian service. In this framework, whoever, for different reasons, cannot enlist in the army - religious or secular, Jew or minority, man or woman - will serve in various civilian frameworks and will contribute his or her part.


These recommendations will, hopefully, be implemented in the next few months. So, here are questions and answers for those who want details on the option of volunteering for National Service.


1. What exactly do you do in National Service?


There are many, endless opportunities. You can teach adults and children how to use the internet and computer, or you can be part of a staff of a center for children in distress or work in a daycare for children who were removed from their homes. If someone is interested in helping adults, they can teach Hebrew to new immigrants or work in an old-age home or help out in a hostel for people with disabilities who are trying to live an independent life.


During National Service you can be a guide in a museum, or a tour guide in Israel, or work with children who were expelled from formal educational frameworks. You can even do National Service in the framework of a special project for the Mossad or General Security Service, or you can travel abroad in order to strengthen the ties between the children of those communities with Judaism and life here.


2. Who can volunteer for National Service?


Only those who have received a deferral from military service or an exemption due to health problems or reasons of conscience can do National Service.


3. Through which institutions can you volunteer for National Service?


Right now it is only possible to volunteer for National Service through six bodies: Ha'aguda L’hitnadvut (the organization for volunteerism); The Shlomit Foundation; the Bat Ami foundation; Aminadav; S.L. the foundation for civilian National Service; the Jerusalem Municipality. Each of these organizations is authorized by the Ministry of Social Affairs and is under the supervision of the Unit of Supervision and Guidance of National Service in the Department of Social Affairs (02-6708355).


Recently a seventh body has been authorized: The Organization for Social Equality and National Service in the Arab Sector. This organization is intended to assist young Bedouins volunteer for National Service and to benefit from the accompanying conditions.


4. Can you do National Service at any age?


No. Only until age 22. The length of time for volunteering for National Service is two years. Afterwards, you can volunteer, but you will not receive the accompanying benefits.


5. Is any volunteer work considered National Service?


No. In order to be considered as doing National Service, you have to commit to at least a year of volunteering. During this year you have to work at least 40 hours a week. An exact report of your workdays and vacations is mandatory. Without this report, which is passed on by the organization to those responsible for National Service, there is no way to receive the benefits when you finish the service.


6. When you volunteer for National Service are you allowed to take vacation?


Only with permission from the organization where you are working and only after a report to the body which sent you to the organization. Every volunteer at National Service is allowed 22 vacation days a year if he works five days a week, and 26 vacation days if he works six days a week.


7. Is it possible to change the place where you are working in the middle of National Service?


Yes, on condition that you have an agreement from both organizations (the one that you are leaving and the one that you are joining). If there is a waiting period while you are switching from one place to the next, it is not considered part of National Service.


8. What happens if you are injured during National Service?


Each organization that employs National Service volunteers pays national insurance and health insurance for the volunteer, and each volunteer is insured, as a regular employee. It is important to know that if a volunteer becomes sick, she has to bring a doctor’s note to the organization.


9. Can you work while you are doing National Service?


In general, most people do not work during National Service. However there are a few special instances where it is possible to get permission to work or study. In any case, it would only be for 12 hours a week and only in instances where you submit a request in writing and receive special permission from the institution where you are working.


10. Can you study while doing National Service?


Only six hours a week and only if the request to study is approved by the institution and the advisory committee.


11. Who pays for transportation, rent, and living expenses while doing National Service?


The institutions cover transportation expenses of the volunteer. Volunteers who live at home receive NIS 690 a month if they pay for their own expenses, or NIS 580 shekels a month if the institution pays for their expenses. Volunteers who live away from home receive NIS 630 a month if the institution pays for their expenses, and NIS 740 a month if they pay for their own expenses. If someone lives and eats at the institution they receive NIS 475  a month.


12. What does the person who finishes National Service receive?


After 12 months of National Service you receive a demobilization grant worth NIS 1,800. If you volunteer for a year you accumulate a personal deposit account worth NIS 5,400. After 24 months of National Service you receive a demobilization grant of NIS 3,600. If you volunteer for two years you accumulate a personal deposit account worth NIS 10,800. It is worth knowing that those who finish at least a year of National Service receive points for their housing entitlements from the Department of Housing. Another benefit is that you receive credit points for income tax concessions, the same as for a released soldier.


13. Can those who finish National Service be eligible for “preferred work” conditions?


Yes. Whoever completes 24 months of National Service can work full-time for one of the jobs defined as “preferred”, for half a year. At the end of that period they will receive a grant of NIS 7,500. It is worth knowing: those who complete National Service are eligible to receive counseling services and vocational counseling through the employment services.


14. Does volunteering for National Service make it easier to get an exemption from the army?


“There is no connection between volunteering for National Service and receiving an exemption from the army”, explains an IDF spokesman.


15. If someone receives an exemption from the army and volunteers for National Service, can he later enlist in the army?


“There is no comprehensive policy regarding enlisting after receiving a military exemption. Each request is evaluated separately”, the army explains.



Following is a list of organizations:


  • The Association of Volunteerism in Israel. They are involved in the fields of health, education, internal security and welfare. Telephone: 02-6521140. Fax: 02-6521149
  • Shlomit Organization. Telephone: 03-6129202. Fax: 03-6219402. Email:
  • Bat Ami Organization is geared to young women who are interested in working in a religious Zionist framework. Telephone:02-5411333. Fax: 02-6413089.
  • Aminadav. Activities in the field of education, welfare, immigrant absorption, health and more. Telephone: 02-6231052. There are more details on their Internet site.
  • S.L.- The organization for alternative civilian National Service. Volunteering in fields such as welfare, education, and activities in community centers, immigration, absorption and health. Telephone: 04-8438045.
  • Jerusalem Municipality, Welfare branch, the municipal department for National Service. Assisting children families, the elderly, the sick and handicapped in Jerusalem. Telephone: 02-6296916, Fax: 02-6296562.
  • An additional organization, “The Organization for Social Equality in the Arab Sector- National Service in the State of Israel”, recently received recognition and will provide services to men and women from the Bedouin sector.
  • General information in Hebrew on National Service can be found on the website of the Ministry of Social Affairs. 





פרסום ראשון: 08.31.07, 10:22
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