Volunteers for Israel, a 36-year-old nonprofit organization that encourages American Jews to lend their services to help the Jewish state, announces a new pilot program that tacks on archeology to its endeavors from Nov. 18 to Dec. 1.

The 14-day program starts with one week of volunteering on an Israeli army base, followed by a week volunteering at an active archaeological-dig site supervised by the Israel Antiquities Authority at the foot of Tel Assar in the Haifa district, focusing on relics that date back to 3,500 BCE.

At the Tel Assar excavation. Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority.

The site covers the Chalcolithic period, or Copper Age, which was an era of transition between the stone tool-using farmers of the Neolithic and the metal-obsessed civilizations of the Bronze Age. It began in the late fifth millennium BCE and lasted for 1,000 years before it gave rise to the Early Bronze Age (approximately 4,300 to 3,300 BCE).

The Tel Assar excavation began in May of this year with about 300 archaeologists and workers.

Program manager and Volunteers for Israel board member Steve Plotkin said the dig came out of “both a need and desire to expand the scope and interest of the overall experience. We fully expect that it will succeed.”

The all-inclusive program, open to people of all ages, covers digging and excavation tools. Work hours are from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Sunday to Thursday, with no activity on Shabbat.

This program focuses on raising awareness of Israel’s archaeological treasures, in addition to immersion in the nation’s culture. It’s sponsored by Volunteers for Israel, Sar-El, the Israel Antiquities Authority and Gil Travel.

Applications are being accepted until Sept. 30. Visit: www.vfi-usa.org.