Volunteer to Support Israelis During War

Since the Oct 7, 2023 Hamas terrorist attack, Israelis have come together to volunteer in many capacities to help the country and their countrymen get through this difficult time. I went to Israel in late November and early December to volunteer in agriculture, something many Israelis are doing. I met the odd foreigner at that time, but I have heard there are more joining since. Below are my notes on what I did to find work and get insurance.

At the avocado orchard of Kibbutz Yir’on in northern Israel.

To find volunteer gigs, there are a number of sites that coordinate daily volunteer work in agriculture and other fields. These are directed at Israelis, so it requires Hebrew reading to navigate your way around these sites. 

1. HaChamal HaEzrachi (The Civilian War Room) – it is an initiative of the Brothers in Arms movement that run pro-democracy protests most of this year. As soon as the war started, they repurposed all their organizational infrastructure to marshal civilian volunteers to help with displaced people, medical needs, transportation, food, and now agriculture. They list multiple initiatives every day in all parts of the country. They also have a form you can fill out to get medical coverage from the Bituach Leumi (social security) for your volunteer work.

2. Tzav 8 Le-Chaklaut (Mobilization Order for Agriculture) – this is a Facebook group where farmers publish requests for people to come to help. Typically, you just contact the farmer the day before and get on their roster for the next day.

3. Meshek Chai – another site that lists volunteer jobs. You can pick difficulty level. They have work all over the country. You contact the farmer to get on the roster.

Health Insurance

  1. Bituach Leumi. When you sign up for any volunteer work via the Hamal, you’ll be asked to make sure you register for Bituach Leumi at this page: https://forms.monday.com/forms/99c0a54086dd8b1b81d41cfff82d7153?r=euc1. You only need to do it once for your whole trip. It allows you to enter your passport numbers, so it accepts foreign volunteers (it seems). This gives you benefits (explained here) if you are injured as a result of the volunteer work. 
  2. Travel Emergency Health Insurance. When I traveled, I checked if my Canadian insurance company covered my travel (I have regular travel insurance with them). However, because there is a travel advisory against non-essential travel to Israel, they would likely not cover me. I found this site which offers quotes on health insurance for tourists to Israel from three companies. I picked Harel and it worked out ok. They were a bit slow to process it as I only started the process a week before arriving in Israel. I had to push them via WhatsApp but they eventually got it done. There was a long health questionnaire to fill out. 

Good luck! Volunteering in Israel was a great experience. It was fun and also very meaningful.

The avocado picking volunteers on lunch break.

If you have questions, just drop a comment below.

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