Established in 1970, the National Service (Sherut Le’umi) program in Israel was designed as an option for religious women, who are exempt from military conscription. Each year, several branches of the organization recruit approximately 7,000 recent high school graduates.
Most participants serve for a year; some continue for a second year. Placements include schools, health-care facilities, courts, shelters, paramedical groups, senior-citizen and child-care centers, immigrant absorption centers, and community centers. There are even placements in Jewish communities around the world, where the young women work as emissaries teaching Hebrew and Zionist education. Several B’not Sherut are working in Bergen County day schools.
Like their counterparts in the Israel Defense Forces, Sherut Le’umi participants receive a small stipend and living expenses, and perhaps the best perk are entitled to free bus and train transportation throughout Israel.
Abigail Klein Leichman