About Volunteers for Israel (VFI)
Volunteers for Israel (VFI) connects Americans to Israel through volunteer service. We achieve this goal by partnering with Israeli military and civilian organizations that enable volunteers to work side-by-side with Israelis. VFI Volunteers provide non-combat support doing tasks such as packing medical supplies, repairing machinery and equipment, and maintaining the IDF bases.
We promote solidarity and goodwill among Israelis, American Jews, and other friends of Israel.
No matter the task, VFIs focus is always to lend our hands and to assure Israel that she does not stand alone.
VFI is a nonprofit, non-political, non-sectarian organization chartered in the U.S.
“Best wishes on the remarkable success of the Volunteers for Israel program. What started out as a one-time effort to alleviate the shortage of civilian manpower in Israel during the Peace for Galilee Operation has evolved into a valuable national service program.” – Letter from Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel representative to the United Nations, to Volunteers for Israel, February 11, 1987
The program began in 1982, during the first war with Lebanon, when Israeli farmers in the Golan Heights faced the prospect of losing their crops. Most able-bodied men and women were called up for army reserve, and ripening crops were left unattended. Soldiers were needed to protect the country’s northern flank, but without their help in the fields the agricultural loss would be disastrous.
Israeli General Aharon Davidi (z”l), a war hero and the former head of the IDF Paratroopers and Infantry Corps, sent emissaries to the United States to recruit volunteers to come to Israel right away, harvest crops and save the economy. More than 600 volunteers responded immediately, and the crops were saved.
The experience was so personally rewarding and successful that volunteers, maintaining the pioneering spirit, formed groups in regions all across the U.S. Since 1982, thousands of Americans have signed on to do civilian work on Israel Defense Forces (IDF) bases. VFI partners with Sar-El, the National Project for Volunteers Israel, an Israeli organization that is part of the IDF.
VFI representatives recruit, assist and process volunteers; Sar-El then places them on bases and oversees their activities while on the program.
Roughly 1,200 Americans each year join thousands of volunteers from more than 60 countries around the world. Some are first-timers, and many more return year after year. Some volunteers have made aliyah; others have met their future spouses on the program. Most of all, the camaraderie and lifelong friendships are a major part of this life-changing experience.