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Volunteering Step-by-Step

The informations on this page refers to non-Israelis eligible for the IDF Mahal, IDF Mahal Nahal Haredi and IDF Mahal Hesder volunteer programs; it's quite similar for overseas Israelis and and children of overseas Israelis (even if not holders of an Israeli passport) eligible for the short and the long IDF paths..

IDF Enlistment Dates:
The enlistment date is the date when you join the IDF and get a uniform etc., not the date when you sign up.

Day Month Year Status Enlistees
2 1 2014
16 2 2014
  3 2014
I
Mahal Nahal Haredi/Netzach Yehuda (only haredi males). Final date will be fixed a few weeks before enlistment.
? 3 2014
4 5 2014
F
Mahal with Free IDF Ulpan
(males and females, if Hebrew skills not adequate)
1 7 2014
F
Mahal Pre-Basic Training (Hebrew speaking males only)
25-26 6 2014
F
Mahal Hesder (only dati males and after 6 1/2 months yeshiva studies)
14 8 2014
I
Mahal Nahal Haredi/Netzach Yehuda (only haredi males). Final date will be fixed a few weeks before enlistment.
24 8 2014
F
Mahal with Free IDF Ulpan
(males and females, if Hebrew skills not adequate)
6 11 2014
F
Mahal Hesder (only dati males and after 6 1/2 months yeshiva studies)
21 10 2014
F
Mahal Pre-Basic Training (Hebrew speaking males only)
  11 2014
I
Mahal Nahal Haredi/Netzach Yehuda (only haredi males). Final date will be fixed a few weeks before enlistment.
10 12 2014
F
Mahal with Free IDF Ulpan
(males and females, if Hebrew skills not adequate)
Additional and frequent IDF enlistment dates are available over the year, depending on qualification and preferred IDF job; your enlistment date will be set after your registration, the reply of the MoD and your personal visit and the following IDF procedures including the medical and Hebrew test.

ONLY FOR

  • female adequate Hebrew speakers (with all medical profiles)
  • men with low medical profile and adequate Hebrew speakers

All above "F" final enlistment dates: as received from the IDF from time to time.

All above "I" indicative enlistment dates: for your orientation, as received from the IDF from time to time. The actual enlistment dates will probably follow somewhat the dates of the previous 12 months.

Additional and changed "F" and "I" dates will be published here as soon as received from the IDF, if any.

Both "F" and "I" dates might change, please keep here a check on your favored enlistment dates.

Please do not mail or phone us regarding enlistment dates, since we publish ALL updates here, as received from the IDF from time to time.


Quick start:

Register online NOW - here. By knowing more about you and your preferences we will be able to assist you much better; first we have to check if you are eligible and, if you are, which office will continue handling your enlistment. After the pre-check your qualification we will inform you about your next steps and particularly the next person or place to contact including phone. The online registration does not commit you to serve in the IDF or elsewhere, but has the sole purpose to help us to help you quickly.

To do before arriving in Israel

  1. Study this website including the pages Who Can Volunteer?, Your Service in the IDF, Volunteering Step-by-Step, Registration, FAQ and the external links such as the information for Chayalim Bodedim (Lone Soldiers).
  2. Register online - here.
  3. Mahal-IDF-Volunteers.org will pre-check your qualification and reply usually within a few days.
  4. Mahal-IDF-Volunteers.org will forward a copy of the reply sent to you to the MoD or the IDF (depending on your personal circimstances); these should handle your case until your enlistment.
  5. Phone or mail the MoD or IDF (the contacts are in our reply to your registration). Your dialogue with the MoD and/or the IDF is optimal for clarifying open questions, particularly about enlistment and service options.
  6. There should be no major problems, but if you encounter any, contact Mahal-IDF-Volunteers.org by mail and describe your problem. We will check and reply.
  7. Choose your enlistment date.
    If you think your Hebrew language skills are not up to par for IDF service, make sure to choose an enlistment date marked with Free IDF Ulpan - here. Important information regarding the IDF and Hebrew skills - here.
  8. Plan to arrive in Israel about 2 months prior to your enlistment date, in order to register in person with the Ministry of Defense (MoD), Jewish Agency, Ministry of Interior and the IDF.
    You can interrupt the pre-enlistment period and even shorten it to 5-6 weeks, but only after advance coordination with the MoD; get written confirmation from the MoD in order to avoid misunderstandings. However, if any unexpected problem surfaces such us strikes or with your documents, you risk missing your planned enlistment date and will have to wait for the next one.

    Get the following documents (this is only for NON-ISRAELIS):
  9. Confirmation stating that you are Jewish, signed by a rabbi (Orthodox, Conservative, Reform or Reconstructionist) residing outside Israel. The confirmation must have a detailed letterhead with the name of the Jewish community, address, phone, fax and email. The exact name of the rabbi must be clearly readable.

    There is an alternative to the rabbi’s confirmation that YOU are Jewish; it is a bit more complicated and works only if you can document that you are the child, grandchild or spouse of a confirmed Jewish person.
  10. Health certificate from your family doctor on the official IDF medical questionnaire - form here.
  11. Original certificate of birth or extract from the birth register.
  12. Passport - minimum validity until the end of your IDF service + 3 months. If your passport expires earlier, you should prolong it or get a new one while at home.

    You can prolong the passport also at your embassy in Israel, but the time needed for the embassy option might delay your planned enlistments for a few months.
  13. 6 passport photos.

    Get the following documents (this is only for ISRAELI overseas residents and children of overseas Israelis, even if not holders of an Israeli passport):
  14. Israeli ID number or simple copies of the Israeli ID (Teudat Zehut) or a copy of the Israeli passport of your Israeli parent.
  15. - Health certificate from your family doctor on the official IDF medical questionnaire - form here.
  16. Original certificate of birth or extract from the birth register.
  17. 6 passport photos.
  18. Find here the country of your passport and check prior to traveling to Israel if you need a visitor's visa to Israel. If you do not need a visa, travel to Israel and get at arrival in Israel a regular visitor's visa B2, valid for three months. Note: if you have to get a visitor's visa prior to traveling to Israel, contact one of the Israeli diplomatic missions. Do not fly over or transit Arab states, Iran or other problematic countries, even if told you can stay during stopovers in the plane.
  19. Packing list suggestions - here and here
  20. Before making final travel arrangements, check Mahal-IDF-Volunteers.org and its external links for updated information.
  21. Most important, contact the MoD or the IDF to reconfirm/check for changes and schedule your appointment for signing up (the MoD contacts are in our reply to your registration).
  22. Note: if you do not speak basic Hebrew, we recommends arriving well before the enlistment to study some Hebrew, although most manage with only the free army ulpan. For help concerning private Hebrew study programs (ulpanim) and finding a suitable apartment in the period before your enlistment in the IDF - here. Free army ulpan - here.


To do after arrival in Israel

Enter Israel with a passport which is valid for more than 6 months (note: for enlistment purposes you will need a longer passport validity, see 12. above).

Get at arrival in Israel a visitor's visa B2, valid for three months.

If you are Israeli and do not have an Israeli passport, you may arrive in Israel with your non-Israeli passport.

Your first office to stop after arriving in Israel is in our reply to your online registration. If, for whatever reason, you did not register online yet, please register NOW here (if possible long before arriving in Israel). By knowing more about you and your preferences we will be able to assist you much better; first we have to check if you are eligible and, if you are, which office will continue handling your enlistment. After the pre-check of your qualification, we will inform you about your next steps and particularly the next person or place to contact including address and phone numbers. The online registration does not commit you to serve in the IDF or elsewhere, but has the sole purpose to help us to help you quickly.

A few government agencies must cooperate on your tight schedule, which is worldwide a nearly certain recipy for unexpected delays. Israeli government agencies appear often inefficient and unreliable, particularly when compared to Switzerland. However, government functionaries are often very creative in solving problems resulting from delays. Be prepared for schedule problems, nearly always with a happy end. Most important, ALWAYS remain on top and check frequently the progress made in your case, even when told this is not really necessary.

At the Ministry of Defense (MoD)

The MoD office is in Tel Aviv within a short walking distance from bus and train stations. Address: Ministry of Defense - Social Department, 9, Leonardo da Vinci St., 1st floor, Tel Aviv 64734, Israel, , phones +972-3-6084502 and +972-3-6084506. Map - here. More contact details and availability - here.

Needless to say, it is preferable to arrange your first visit well in advance, while still abroad. However, if you are on a tight schedule, you can arrange a meeting at short notice and even show up at the MoD office without prior notice; but do not mind waiting some time (bring a book or so).

Ask the MoD staff your questions and sign up with the MoD - (possible only in person in Israel).

Arrive at the MoD with your documents as listed here (non-Israelis) or here (Israelis).

The MoD makes final checks of your qualifications according to the legal conditions at the time of your recruitment.

The MoD will direct you to all places on your way into the IDF such as the Jewish Agency, the Ministry of Interior for your visa, the IDF Recruitment Bureau (Lishkat Giyus) for the IDF medical and the status "Lone Soldier".

Get from the MoD a confirmation for the Ministry of Interior (MoI) in support for your request for a visa A2.

Before the MoI non-Israelis have to visit the Jewish Agency:


At the Jewish Agency (JA)

(NOT for Israeli overseas residents and children of overseas Israelis, even if not holders of an Israeli passport)

Map (Tel Aviv) - here, is within a short walking distance from the MoD.

Map (Jerusalem) - here.

Contact the JA and arrange the meeting. Or simply go and wait there.

[However, if you were born on the territory of the former Soviet Union, you will have to visit the office of Nativ-Lishkat Hakesher.]

The JA will check your confirmation that you are Jewish or otherwise entitled by the Law of Return ("Zakai Hok Hashvut").

You need the JA-confirmation for the Ministry of Interior (MoI):


At the Ministry of Interior (MoI)

Map - here, is within a short walking distance from the MoD.

Contact the MoI and arrange the meeting for getting an Israeli visa type A2 for the IDF Mahal program. Or simply go and wait. You need:

At the Ministry of Defense (MoD) 2

Bring the A2 visa to the MoD, or mail/fax a copy and check by phone if it arrived.

The MoD will now arrange the date of your visit at one of the IDF Recruitment Bureaus.

After about 10 days the MoD should contact you regarding your enlistment tests - "Tsav Rishon". If the MoD does not contact you, mail and phone the MoD. Note: your qualification is in any case subject to final approval by the IDF Recruitment Bureau.

At the IDF Recruitment Bureau (Lishkat Giyus) 1

  • Bring all your documents including the health cerificate.
  • At the IDF Recruitment Bureau: about 5 hours of recruitment procedures including the medical. Request to be enlisted through the IDF Mahal program (Note: it can take a few weeks before you actually start your service).
  • If everything is OK, about a week later you will get your final approval for the enlistment. If you do not have immediate family in Israel, return for registration as a Chayal Boded (Lone Soldier):

At the IDF Recruitment Bureau (Lishkat Giyus) 2

IDF Service

  • On Enlistment Day you start your IDF service - you are now a soldier in uniform!
  • Right at the start of the IDF basic training check if you are registered as a Chayal Boded, if not done yet at Lishkat Giyus and applicable.
  • Duration of the service as usual in your IDF program (if you do not opt for longer service). Your service time in the IDF will include the time for the pre-basic training and the free army ulpan (if applicable).

After Discharge

  • Get the IDF grant and many other benefits for discharged soldiers.
  • Remain in Israel (optional) - click here.
  • Return to your country of origin (optional)
  • Go abroad and return to Israel (optional) - click here

Please note:

Discharged Mahal volunteers enjoy various benefits for discharged soldiers.

Opting for an upgraded status in Israel after discharge from the IDF (from A1 or A2 to "immigrant") makes you eligible for assistance from the Student Authority including exemption from Israeli university tuition fees.

If you opt for Israeli citizenship before your 24th birthday, you might become liable for additional compulsory regular IDF service - here.

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IDF Background Info
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Mahal-IDF-Volunteers.org Created by: Raphael Katz