The issue of respect

Bnot Sherut work hard and are deserving of respect, recognition, resources and a warm embrace for their dedication to the country.

May 27, 2019 22:06
4 minute read.
Current Lone National Service Volunteers helped by ‘Ori' program.

Current Lone National Service Volunteers helped by ‘Ori' program.. (photo credit: NEFESH B'NEFESH)

I grew up in America in a comfortable, happy home. My parents and educators instilled in me a love for the Jewish people and our Jewish homeland.

After finishing high school, I took part in an Israel gap-year program that further strengthened my resolve to move to Israel and serve my country.

I left my comfortable home, my family and my friends behind in pursuit of actualizing the ideals that were so deeply ingrained in me. I enlisted to a program dedicated to ensuring Israel’s future and wellbeing.

That program is Sherut Leumi, National Service.

Most Israelis know what a Lone Soldier is – a young man or woman who moved to Israel from abroad, who has no immediate family members in the country, and is required as an Israeli citizen living in Israel to serve in the IDF.

But I am not a Lone Soldier; I am a Lone Bat Sherut. I have committed to serving my country for two years, using my abilities to contribute to a developing Israeli society.

National Service plays a vital role in this country. Bnot Sherut and Bnei Sherut are dedicated to meeting the essential needs of Israeli citizens and do that in a myriad of ways, through their unique talents and countless hours of hard work.

These passionate and loving young adults are serving in institutions and organizations all over the country, working with children in daycare centers and schools, with the elderly, in hospitals and nursing homes, people with special needs and disabilities, and more.

Bnot Sherut work hard and are deserving of respect, recognition, resources and a warm embrace for their dedication to the country.

In my first Sherut Leumi position, I worked in a hospital with children, assisting in their recovery. In my current position, where I am proudly serving in my second year, I joined Carmel 6000, a program in partnership with AMIT.

The program has two functions. The first is to close the gender and minority gaps in hi-tech by teaching women and minorities coding and computer science.

 Each year, Bnot Sherut go through a rigorous course where they learn about coding and app development. The young women then utilize these skills to help fulfill Carmel 6000’s second function: developing devices and applications with assistive tech capabilities for those who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford them.

MANY OF us work in harsh circumstances, with a small stipend, and in poor living conditions. We show up day after day to serve our country, to give of ourselves completely.

 Lone Bnot Sherut, like myself, awaited the day that our voices would be heard and our service acknowledged.

I decided I needed to do something, and so, in addition to my national service position, I work to advocate for the needs of Lone Bnot Sherut like myself.

I started a blog on Facebook and Instagram, “Adventures of Avital,” to show the world the day to day life, challenges, and beauty of being a Lone Bat Sherut. 

Through this blog, I was able to connect with Nefesh B’Nefesh and give a voice to Lone Bnot Sherut with different stories on a joint blog with Nefesh B’Nefesh, “Living That Bodedah Life.”

Nefesh B’Nefesh at the time had just started a wonderful pilot program for supporting Lone Bnot Sherut. The program, Ori, is now being officially launched in close partnership with the Sherut Leumi Authority, and as of next year will be the official coordinator for all Lone Bnot Sherut from around the world. The program helps to improve the lives of Lone Bnot Sherut by setting them up with adopted families, connecting them with past and future Bnot Sherut and hosting educational and social events.

National Service is at a very sensitive time. The immigration acclimation process coupled with potentially stressful work can impact mental and emotional well-being. Ori provides us with access to those resources without shame or guilt. I know that they are just a call away during hard times, and I am so grateful for their hard work and recognition of our worth and our unique needs.

Ori has recognized a gap in Israeli society and has dedicated itself to helping Lone Bnot Sherut. Its people have worked ceaselessly to set up an organization that is there for all the needs of Lone Bnot Sherut. But there is still so much more that needs to be done – after all, an organization can only do so much without the help of outside support and volunteers.

There is a tremendous amount of support in Israel for Lone Soldiers, and our dream is to gain the support and recognition of the rest of the country as another group of young adults who have left their families to come to Israel and serve the country.

It is through our collective efforts that we young women and men of Sherut and the IDF are together ensuring the well-being and future of our beloved country.

We all deserve respect and compassion for the sacrifices we make to serve.

The writer is Lone Bnot Sherut ambassador at Nefesh B’Nefesh.

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