Article - "Volunteering"
All those who have made a close study of Jewish history are agreed that volunteering is one of our national traits. Beginning with Nachshon ben Aminadav who was the first to dive into the waters of the Red Sea at the time of the Exodus from Egypt, from generation to generation the Jewish people practiced mutual help through voluntary action in all spheres of life, whether by teaching the precepts of the Torah, assisting Jewish communities abroad, educating the youth, or by making generous contributions to the founding and upkeep of the Jewish State.
In the Holy Land itself, the early pioneers who from time to time knew themselves what it was to be hungry for bread and at all times lacked smart clothes, were not backward in developing a strong personal and group volunteer movement. It was this spirit of volunteering which was the base on which Kupat Cholim and the General Federation of Jewish Labor (the Histadrut) were built. It was this spirit that led to the setting-up of hundreds of new settlements in which the veteran settlers gave unstintingly of their time to assist the new settlers in constructing their new homes.
The sayings "All the children of Israel are responsible one for the other" and "All the children of Israel are brothers" were given full expression in the everyday life of the embryonic state and the State of Israel itself. There was an ever-growing feeling that the common fate of the Jewish people compels every Jew to involve himself in the social and political life of the State. And so, over the years, various voluntary organizations were founded with the common aim of mutual help. Among the best known are "NA'MAT"-the League of Jewish Women; WIZO; the National Organization of Orthodox Women; the various Immigrants' Associations; B'nai Brith and B'not Brith; Rotary; the Freemasons; the Lions; the various Youth Movements; YAEL, which works with the country's hospitals. Then there is a whole range of organizations working in specific, but no less essential fields, such as the Anti-Cancer League, AKIM, MICHA, Magen David Adom and the Council for the Prevention of Road Accidents.
In the 1970s there was a growing realization that there was a need to develop a concentrated volunteer effort to assist the socially or economically deprived sections of the community. It was in 1972 that the government, acting on the recommendations of the Katz Committee, set up the Volunteer Center whose function it was to coordinate voluntary action in a wide variety of fields. Volunteer Bureaus were opened in numerous towns and villages, and it was through them that groups of volunteers were organized to extend help to needy families.
In addition to the volunteer movement devoted to helping the individual, there was the development of a volunteer movement devoted to security needs. The Civil Guard was formed, and today this movement numbers hundreds of thousands of volunteers; large numbers of trained people offered their services to the Army's workshops to assist in the repair of military vehicles and other equipment. It was at once encouraging and heartwarming to see the white-haired figures lovingly working on army vehicles, putting them into battle condition, working side-by-side with young soldiers who in most cases were unaware that the bent-over figure at their side was a veteran army officer, rich in battle experience and with a long record of volunteering stretching back over the years. The Government of Israel decided to make its own special "contribution" to all the volunteers, and in addition to all the organizational and financial help extended to the various voluntary organizations, it decided to insure all volunteers against any injuries incurred while on duty. Of course, this was only a token gesture meant to show the State's appreciation of the volunteers' efforts. A further gesture was the award of the "Volunteer Medal" which is presented by the President at an annual ceremony to those volunteers who have distinguished themselves over a period of years.
This stamp represents a further gesture of appreciation to the body of volunteers, illustrating as it does, in symbolic fashion, the story "Let's help pull up Grandfather Eliezer's Carrot," in which the Grandfather shows that with the voluntary help of all the members of his family, he can overcome apparently insurmountable obstacles. The tab inscription is: "To the volunteers of the people."