Tel Aviv humanitarian group draws religious, secular

Overseas, Latet responds to natural disasters such as famine in Ethiopia, floods in Mozambique and earthquakes in Turkey, and follows up in each location it visits with a long-term project, such as building an earthquake-proof school in Turkey.

Despite having a staff of only four people, Latet has attracted more than 700 volunteers, and a whopping quarter of a million people donated non-perishables in the last food drive. According to Peleg, the volunteers include a healthy mix of young and old, religious and secular, and, an unusually high number of high-tech workers. Major high-tech companies such as Aladdin Knowledge Systems and Check Point also contribute financially to the organization, which has a budget of more than $1 million a year. "They're all looking for a way to give back to society," Peleg says.

The enterprise was slow to take off. According to Peleg, Latet "had to go through birth pangs. It took time until people agreed to participate."

She reflects that perhaps Latet had no precedent in Israel because "there's a different mentality here. It took us a long time to mature and realize we're not alone."

Now, Peleg considers the volunteers "the state of Israel's best ambassadors. The people they help don't know who has resigned, or what the latest Knesset scandal is. They just know we're a country that cares, and gives wholeheartedly."

— Jerusalem Post Service