Non-immigrating foreign volunteers typically serve with the IDF in one of four ways:
- The Mahal program targets young non-Israeli Jews (men younger than 24 and women younger than 21). The program consists typically of 14.5–18 months of IDF service, including a lengthy training for those in combat units or (for 18 months) one month of non-combat training and additional two months of learning Hebrew after enlisting, if necessary. Volunteering for longer service is possible. There are two additional subcategories of Mahal, both geared solely for religious men: Mahal Nahal Haredi (16 months), and Mahal Hesder, which combines yeshiva study of 6.5 months with IDF service of 14.5 months, for a total of 21 months. Similar IDF programs exist for Israeli overseas residents.
- Sar-El, an organisation subordinate to the Israeli Logistics Corps, provides a volunteer program for non-Israeli citizens who are 17 years or older (or 15 if accompanied by a parent). The program is also aimed at Israeli citizens, aged 30 years or older, living abroad who did not serve in the Israeli Army and who now wish to finalize their status with the military. The program usually consists of three weeks of volunteer service on different rear army bases, doing non-combative work.
- Garin Tzabar offers a program mainly for Israelis who emigrated with their parents to the United States at a young age. Although a basic knowledge of the Hebrew language is not mandatory, it is helpful. Of all the programs listed, only Garin Tzabar requires full-length service in the IDF. The program is set up in stages: first the participants go through five seminars in their country of origin, then have an absorption period in Israel at a kibbutz. Each delegation is adopted by a kibbutz in Israel and has living quarters designated for it. The delegation shares responsibilities in the kibbutz when on military leave. Participants start the program three months before being enlisted in the army at the beginning of August.
- Marva is short-term basic training for two months.
Read more about this topic: Israeli Soldiers
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“Friendship is but another name for an alliance with the follies and the misfortunes of others. Our own share of miseries is sufficient: why enter then as volunteers into those of another?”
—Thomas Jefferson (17431826)