The program targets young Israeli volunteers under 30, although Jewish volunteers from abroad and volunteers up to age 40 will be accepted. The participants will be divided into groups of about 20, who will live together and devote their time to helping poor communities – both Jewish and non-Jewish – by running educational activities and assisting in hospitals. In other words, national service… abroad.
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Before embarking on their three-month adventure, volunteers will undergo training. The first group of participants left recently for Gondar, in Ethiopia, a city that serves as a base for Ethiopian Jews who want to make aliya.
The first volunteer group has left for Gondar, Ethiopia (Photo: Nati Marcus)
Later this summer, another volunteer base will be opened, this one in India. And after the High Holidays, additional centers will be launched in Brazil and in France, followed by centers in Thailand and Ecuador. They will operate on a continual basis, with the volunteer groups changing every three months.
Nir Lahav, director of the JA's Youth Activism Unit, said: "Each one of us has an obligation to help the weak, and the more we do good for others, the better it will be for us. The project's volunteer bases will serve as a platform for fostering leadership and social responsibility among young people from the Jewish world and from Israel, and creating strong ties between them."
Mashav, the Foreign Ministry's Center for International Cooperation, is also part of the initiative. Ilan Fluss, director of Mashav's Policy Planning and External Relations Department, said that the project is intended to help poor people and help connect Jewish youngsters to Judaism and Jewish values, their cultural heritage, and the State of Israel.