The German-Israeli Voluntary Service (DIFD – “Deutsch-Israelischer Freiwilligendienst”) was launched in 2015 with the vision of strengthening the relationship between the German and the Israeli society in a diverse and sustainable manner. In addition to their historical ties and inseparability, Germany and Israel also have strong ties at the diplomatic level. At the society level, the aim of the German-Israeli Voluntary Service is to portray the social diversity of Germany and Israel and to give young people the opportunity to get to know similarities and differences between the two countries over a longer period of time and thus develop a better understanding of the two societies. The DIFD is also intended to offer the participants the opportunity to strengthen their social and intercultural competence through both, everyday service and educational support.
The German-Israeli Voluntary Service offers young Germans and Israelis from the age of 18 the opportunity to experience and get to know the respective partner country through the voluntary service for 6-18 months. The project is non-denominational. In Germany, the DIFD offers work places in social institutions, but also in formal and informal educational institutions. In Israel, the German volunteers are deployed in facilities for people with disabilities and rehabilitation centers, as well as working with children and young people.
Both, the Incoming and the Outgoing components of the DIFD are linked to specific funding programs of the German Federal Ministry for Family, Seniors, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ). The voluntary service for Israelis in Germany – the Incoming component – is carried out and funded according to the guidelines of the Federal Voluntary Service (BFD). As part of the Outgoing component, Germans complete a service in Israel according to the funding guidelines of the International Youth Voluntary Service (IJFD). The Central Welfare Office for Jews in Germany (ZWST) coordinates the German-Israeli volunteer service and is responsible for the educational support of the DIFDvolunteers during their service.
The voluntary service is coordinated in cycles, either spring or autumn. Both, in Germany and in Israel, the voluntary service is initiated by a preparatory seminar with introductory components and is completed after the service with a follow-up seminar, which includes reflection components. The service itself is tied to the working place and takes 38-40 hours per week. In Germany, employing institutions in the federal voluntary service must be recognized deployment sites.