Sherut Leumi, literally translated as National Service, is an alternative form of serving the country in a volunteer capacity for people ineligible to serve in the Israel Defense Forces, or unwilling to serve in the IDF for religious or political reasons.
This is Sherut Leumi Week, when the efforts of 18,000 young men and women from the totality of Israel’s ethnic and religious demographic mosaic are recognized as vital to the positive achievements of the country.
Volunteers who coming from every geographic area from Metulla to Eilat work in schools – especially those for special needs children – every possible kind of health care service from hospitals to paramedics who answer emergency calls, state and government administration – and some even work in cybersecurity.
One of 31 outstanding young men and women who were cited for exceptional dedication to duty is Menachem Yahel Abramowitz, who for the past two years has been working in the cyber defense department of the Israel Prison Services. He is a member of the ultra-Orthodox community and has a beard and long peyot that extend beyond his shoulders.
President Herzog awards Israeli National Service volunteers
There were many proud parents and supervisors at the awards ceremony at the President’s Residence on Monday, but none as proud as President Isaac Herzog who reeled off a string of names of National Service volunteers who work in different capacities in various departments of his office. He was particularly proud that two of them: Maya Hi Yair and Devora Irira, who were included among the 31 outstanding volunteers, without any input on his part. Irira has been working for two years in the Spokespersons’ Department and Hi Yair helps to run the President’s Office. Of the two, Herzog, who said: “They run the State and the world,” personally presented a highly embarrassed Hi Yair with her citation, which he read aloud.
In relation to all the volunteers, he said that he and his wife were happy to be at a ceremony “that honors the best of the best among our young people.”
Speaking in general terms of National Service volunteers , Herzog told them: “You serve Israel in the best possible way.” He lauded those whom he knows personally through their work at the President’s Residence, as “the most dedicated professionals,” but was no less aware of the extraordinary contribution made by others in every field. “We value you greatly,” he said. “You are not only our present, but our future.”
Herzog added that the period that the young men and women spend in Sherut Leumi is one of transition from youth to adulthood. “Your success is the success of the State as a whole,” he said.
Other speakers referred to the volunteers as “rays of light in the darkness.”
Reuven Pinsky, the director-general of National Civic Service, praised the volunteers for showing leadership at every level, giving of themselves and their heart and soul. “There are no limits to what they are prepared to do for the country and its people,” he said.
He also noted the significant increase in the number of Arab and Druze volunteers, of whom there are now some 5,500 engaged in National Service.
If the army is considered to be a melting pot for the breaking down of social barriers, Sherut Leumi is even more so as evidenced by the cheers and applause of volunteers from different organizations for each of the 31 honorees, regardless of the color of their skin, their religion or whether they were religious or secular. After the formalities, each was surrounded by members of their respective organizations, by people with whom they work and were hugged and kissed.
In addition to its vital contribution to so many fields of endeavor, Sherut Leumi is also the do-good magnet that puts everyone under the same banner.