Photo Credit: Courtesy Nefesh B'Nefesh
Ori program Lone Bnot Sherut

There are currently more than 14,000 National Service (Sherut Leumi) volunteers in Israel, as many religious young women choose National Service as an alternative to the mandatory IDF service. More than 150 of these women come from abroad without their families to spend their first year or two after high school dedicated to serving the State of Israel. Nefesh B’Nefesh, in partnership with Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael and the Jewish National Fund-USA, is launching Ori – a holistic support program to assist and care for these Lone Bnot Sherut throughout their National Service.

Half of the young women are English-speakers, while the other half are French, with a handful from other countries. The Bnot Sherut Bodedot are based in apartments throughout the country including Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv, Afula, Be’er Sheva, and Netanya.

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Ori, My Light in Hebrew, provides Lone Bnot Sherut with guidance, support, social programming, advocacy, a help-desk and crisis support. The program begins prior to the start of the year of National Service, as the future Bnot Sherut are assisted with finalizing their volunteer placements in various hospitals, schools, organizations and government offices throughout Israel.

Ori volunteer with children / Courtesy Nefesh B’Nefesh

Beyond simply aiding current Bnot Sherut, ‘Ori’ is involved in advocating to the Sherut Leumi Authority and the Israeli government to maximize the benefits provided to Lone Bnot Sherut, along with national recognition of these young women and their contribution to Israeli society.

“It is truly remarkable that these young women are voluntarily choosing to dedicate the first part of their adult lives in service to the State of Israel,” said Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, co-founder and executive director of Nefesh B’Nefesh. “We are pleased to offer such a dedicated, holistic program which will assist the Lone Bnot Sherut every step of the way. Our goal is to not only support the Ori volunteers throughout their service, but also provide them with meaningful tools to carry with them into adulthood as they begin their journeys as Israeli citizens.”

During their voluntary service, the Ori program will provide all Lone Bnot Sherut with information and workshops on topics such as how to manage a budget, life skills and general advice in order to empower them in their various fields and ensure they receive the tools needed to have a successful and positive service. Through social programming and the help-desk, the Lone Bnot Sherut will have a strong support system of both peers and experts to guide them through their new lives in Israel. Additionally, Ori provides emotional assistance, with professionals on staff to help navigate any complex situations.

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.