62% of people feel National Service volunteers are undervalued - poll

Volunteers of National Civil Service – 'Sherut Leumi' in Hebrew – are between the ages of 18 and 21 and typically work 30–40 hours per week for 12 to 24 months.

Aliza Mark (Bat Sherut) and Jake Tokayer at his Tekes Siyum Maslul Shiryon  (photo credit: LONE SOLDIER CENTER IN MEMORY OF MICHAEL LEVIN)
Aliza Mark (Bat Sherut) and Jake Tokayer at his Tekes Siyum Maslul Shiryon
(photo credit: LONE SOLDIER CENTER IN MEMORY OF MICHAEL LEVIN)

A poll conducted by the National Civil Service (Sherut Leumi), the alternative option for Israelis ineligible or exempt from military service, found that 62% of respondents believe that the service and those who enlist in it are undervalued.

The poll, conducted in tandem with survey company iPanel, polled roughly 500 respondents aged 18 on a variety of questions related to Sherut Leumi.

Other results of the poll showed that 91% of respondents believe there is a need for a national civil service in the State of Israel, while a staggering 95% feel national service is a suitable alternative for those who cannot do military service. Some 86% think that national-civil service volunteers are as patriotic as IDF soldiers, though the other 14% did not share this sentiment.

The poll also wanted to gauge the prevalence of stereotypes surrounding national service: When asked who participates in national service, almost two-thirds of the respondents (64%) said religious people and 10% answered Arabs.

Respondents were also asked what field of work national service volunteers enter, with 63% saying health and medicine and 50% saying education, as opposed to just 15% saying the security field (Defense Ministry, police, fire rescue) and 16% who said they volunteer with underprivileged populations (elderly, Holocaust survivors, youth at risk, impoverished, etc).

 THE IDF evacuates an injured person on a  stretcher for transport via helicopter to a  hospital, in Kathmandu, Nepal, 2015. (credit: Illustrative; Danish Siddiqui/Reuters) THE IDF evacuates an injured person on a stretcher for transport via helicopter to a hospital, in Kathmandu, Nepal, 2015. (credit: Illustrative; Danish Siddiqui/Reuters)

Sherut Leumi volunteers mainly consist of religious Jewish women who are exempt from military service. Volunteers are between the ages of 18 and 21 and typically work 30–40 hours per week over 12 to 24 months. Volunteers have the option of doing either one or two years of national service.

The majority work in schools, but can also work in places such as hospitals, law offices, nursing homes, health clinics, at-risk youth clinics, organizations for disadvantaged communities, immigrant assistance and many other organizations. Placement organizations that work specifically for national service try to place volunteers according to their skills, interests and needs.

To that end, 77% of respondents believed that national civil service helps integrate participants into the employment market.

“The national civil service works hard to increase public awareness of the vital and important work of 18,000 volunteers, who work in a variety of fields and are on the civic front,” said Reuven Pinski, Director-General of the National-Civil Service Authority.

"The results of the survey are encouraging, on the one hand, showing that the public recognizes the importance of national civil service, but at the same time reflects that there are gaps that we must address in order to improve the public's familiarity and appreciation for volunteers and their contribution."