Sherut Leumi is voluntary national service that takes the place of army service. Israeli citizens and permanent residents who get an army exemption are eligible.
See below for an interview with a Sherut Leumi Alumnus.
Sherut Leumi gives young women an opportunity to get intensive exposure to a number of professional environments in Israeli society. Most are Hebrew-speaking environments, but English speakers are rare commodities whose skills are greatly valued. It may also be possible to request an English-speaking environment for service.
Sherut Leumi offers programs in a wide range of fields including special education, administration, hospitals, law, geriatrics, nursing homes, health clinics, teens at risk, internal security, education, disadvantaged communities, immigrant assistance, environmentalism and other related non-profit organizations. Applicants are interviewed and are matched as best as possible, via placement organizations, to appropriate positions according to their skills, interests and needs. Each placement organization works within specific fields, so it is advisable to have an idea of the field of interest, and then to find the placement organization that works within the chosen field.
One who decides to do Sherut Leumi must register through one of the state-recognized placement organizations. The organization then matches the applicant to the place of service. Service lasts for 12 months and typically requires 30-40 hours/week. Each girl is then assigned to a rakezet (coordinator) who serves as a supervisor and advisor.
Obtaining an exemption from the compulsary army service:
If you have not received your Tzav Rishon yet, but would like to get the Ptur (exemption) earlier than your draft date, the first step is to go to Lishkat Hagiyus to open up a file. This process may take some time so please take that into consideration. If you have already received your Tzav Rishon, you will not need to do this.
In order to get a ptur (exemption) from the army for religious reasons, you must:
- Go to the Rabanut. For a listing of Rabanut offices throughout the country, see: http://www.rbc.gov.il/RabbinicalCourts/Pages/default.aspx. Bring 2 passport pictures. There is a 42 NIS processing fee. While the Rabanut offices open at 8:30am, you may not be seen until after 9.
- State to the Rabanut that you don’t want to go to the army for religious reasons. Some girls are asked to meet with a Rabbi who might pose questions to see “if they are religious”, others are able to obtain the letter of exemption without further questioning.
- Once you have the ptur you have to take it to the Lishkat Hagiyus. If you don’t have the pturbefore your Tzav Rishon, you must go to Lishkat Giyus on the assigned day anyway. Once you receive the ptur, you are responsible for making sure that the army receives it.
You must obtain your ptur at least 90 days before your enlistment date. If you do not receive yourptur in time, the army may decide to enlist you.
There are 4 placement organizations through which one can register for Sherut Leumi:
B’Shvil : Advocacy for Bnot Sherut Bodedot (without parents in Israel)
Atara Goldsmith 050-333-6780
Bnot Sherut are entitled to a number of benefits including:
- Monthly stipend for necessities.(Amount varies on location and place of service.)
- Apartment housing in the city where they are serving.
- Bus pass (inter-city and intra-city).
- Discounts at restaurants, movie theatres and cell phone companies (same discounts as soldiers).
Most “Bnot Sherut” live in apartments together in the city where they serve.
There are frequent social activities such as weekend getaways, shabbatonim, tours, learning programs, parties for the chagim, etc.
Weekly shiurim are often available.
- Bnot Sherut who have Israeli citizenship receive a Ma’anak (grant) at the end of the year. There are two conditions that they need to meet in order to be eligible for this:
- She must have a ptur from the army.
- She needs to have made Aliyah before the beginning of her service.
- Bnot Sherut that are aged between 18-21 and are completing a year of Sherut Leumi, will be exempt from payment of insurance contributions for the duration of their service and for an additional 12 month period (at the most). Please see the Bituach Leumi site for more information.
Based on the personal experiences of Anna Pomson, Sherut Leumi “alumnus”
Who is in charge of placements for Sherut Leumi?
The following organizations make Sherut Leumi placements for Orthodox young women: Aguda Lahitnadvut, Bat Ami and Aminadav. There is another organization, Shlomit, that makes Sherut Leumi placements for individuals from other sectors of society.
How will I know which job is right for me?
First, you have to figure out what interests you. Jobs are grouped into categories, such as office administration, helping children, working with the elderly, etc.
What should I consider, when assessing potential job placements?
If your parents live in Israel, you will need to decide whether you want to be near home. In some ways, there are advantages to going somewhere new and having your own freedom, while in other ways, it is nice to have the option of going home at the end of a hard day, just to crash.
How should I prepare for my interview?
Before you go for an interview at an organization, talk to someone who worked for that organization previously. Find out what to expect in the interview: Will there be a test? Will you need to write an essay? Will there be a formal interview? Each place is different, and knowing what to expect will help calm your nerves. You might also want to think about possible interview questions and practice answering them, so that you will be able to answer confidently. Keep in mind that organizations like to see that you are enthusiastic about the prospect of working there, and that you will put your heart into the work.
Do I need Protexcia (personal connections) to get a good placement?
Protexcia is always useful because the people who are hiring you, know little about you; if they receive a recommendation from someone they trust, it is valuable to them. However, what is most important is showing that you are a hard worker and a good fit for the job.
What is Yom Sayerot like?
Yom Sayerot is sign-up day for Sherut Leumi placements. Generally speaking, when you go for an interview, you also tour the facilities, learn more about the organization, and meet with the staff.
What if I sign up for Sherut Leumi after Yom Sayerot? Am I too late??!
Call the Sherut Leumi Rakezet (coordinator) for the organization that interests you, and explain why you wish to register. They are likely to consider you. However, keep in mind that you are sign up after everyone else has already started the placement process, and some of the spots may already be taken.
Should I consider a job placement just because it pays me a higher living stipend?
We do not recommend taking a job just because of the stipend. That is not what Sherut Leumi is about! In addition, keep in mind that at present, a Bat Sherut generally makes more money than a Chayal, though these types of things are always open to change.
How do I decide between doing army service and doing Sherut Leumi?
This is a personal choice that every Orthodox woman needs to make. One option is not better than the other, rather, it is a function of the kind of national service that is suitable for you. For more information, please email email@example.com.
Important Note: If you want to do Sherut Leumi, you must submit your exemption from the Rabbinate to your local drafting office more than 90 days before you potential draft date. If you don’t submit your exemption in time, the army will void your exemption and you will be drafted by the army.
Anna Pomson worked as a Bat Sherut at Nefesh B’Nefesh in 2009-2010. Thank you again, Anna – for all of your hard work throughout the year, and for sharing your experiences with future Bnot Sherut!