It used to be the kibbutz and its images of fruit picking and communal living that attracted streams of Jewish volunteers to Israel. Now many are looking for a different kind of service, one involving pre-dawn starts, a dose of boot camp and the very real possibility of some frontline action.
A new organisation is actively recruiting scores of non-Israeli Jews, many of them American, to serve in the Israeli army as it faces threats on multiple fronts in a region largely hostile towards it.
“We feel that Israel is fighting for its life,” said Jay Schultz, the executive director of Aish Malach, a new Israeli body set up to help foreigners enlist. For many, he said, “this is the right thing at the right time”.