Sar-El moves volunteers out of North [pg. 6]

By JENNY MERKIN
August 1, 2006 21:26
2 minute read.

 
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In the heat of the escalating violence, Sar-El has removed its volunteers from certain bases in the North and has lengthened its hours on others to keep up with increasing demands. Sar-El, the National Project for Volunteers for Israel, sends volunteers to approximately 25 military bases all over the country. There they help with manual labor, such as packing up medical supplies, organizing and shipping food, painting jerry cans and carrying parachutes. Sar-El volunteers ordinarily work on four military bases in the Haifa and Karmiel areas. However, with the start of the recent conflict, Sar-El removed its volunteers from northern bases. "We just felt that we shouldn't put our volunteers in places that we know to be dangerous," said Pamela Lazarus, Sar-El's program coordinator. The volunteers on the northern bases have been moved to bases further south, where work has intensified to keep up with the increasing violence. Sar-El volunteers traditionally work only during the day, but in order to provide the army with supplies, they have begun to work evenings as well. "Sar-El volunteers understand that they are doing this because this is the work that has to get done and the supplies have to be sent out," Lazarus said. Volunteers also have to respond to the demands of reservists being called up, which "means that more things have to be done on these bases to accommodate the reservists, and our volunteers are the ones that do these things," Lazarus explained. To date, about 10 percent of Sar-El volunteers have returned home because of the escalating conflict. Bracha Kahn, from Long Island, New York, who volunteered at a basic training base, said that seven out of 23 people on her program went home. However, despite the increase in workload, Sar-El volunteers continue to enjoy their program. "I had an amazing time. I managed to get a little taste of the army while helping out," Kahn said. In fact, many people have been joining Sar-El to help because of the war and "many previous volunteers are asking if there are any special missions going from Canada to help," said Leonard Berk, president of Sar-El Canada. Many of the volunteers who have been relocated from northern bases have asked to return to help. Sar-El coordinators have not allowed these volunteers to go back, but "when the commander of Sar-el feels that it's appropriate to send them back to the northern bases, then we will. Our commander is in close contact every single moment of every single day with all of the commanders of all the bases that we deal with," said Lazarus.

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