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Get involved at Magdala


“The Magdala volunteer program is a wonderful experience in the Holy Land that offers the opportunity to live a first century experience in a twenty-first century atmosphere. Volunteers offer their service in the city of Magdala, hometown of Mary Magdalene, helping to engage people and transform lives.”

Since the beginning of the project at Magdala, more than 2,000 volunteers from more than 23 countries have come to donate their time and talents.

Volunteering at Magdala is an experience in spiritual and community service, as well as an introduction to new friends from around the world and immersion into Middle Eastern culture. During a volunteer’s tenure, s/he is exposed to many of the historical, cultural, spiritual, and natural sites that the Holy Land has to offer. It is an experience that expands individual understanding and deepens personal faith.

This experience also creates wonderful human, cultural, and spiritual encounters in an atmosphere of respect, camaraderie, enthusiasm, service, and generosity.

Volunteer activities include: attending to pilgrims, upkeep of Magdala’s buildings and grounds, visits to biblical sites, cultural trips, and participation in lectures. During excavation seasons, volunteers often have the opportunity to participate in archaeological work.

Volunteers help our mission come to life! We welcome volunteers year-round to help take care of Magdala. Write to for more information and to request the application form. Applications can be submitted according to the following schedule:

Participation starting in: Application Due Date: Acceptance notified during the first week of:
March – April 2017 Immediately As Soon As Possible
May – August 2017 February 15, 2017 March 2017
September – December 2017 June 15, 2017 July 2017
January – April 2018 October 15, 2017 November 2017

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can participate, and what are the requirements?

Participation is open to any individual who, above all, has the desire to serve others. Volunteers also must:

  • Be eager, willing, and physically able to participate in all activities at and outside of Magdala.
  • Have a passport valid for one year after the date of entry to Israel.
  • Be age 18 or older.
  • Have a valid medical insurance policy (preferably provided by an Israeli insurance company).
  • Be physically and mentally healthy.
  • Be willing to live and share in fellowship with others.

The Magdala Volunteer Program is open to people of all religions and walks of life who are interested in serving, having a spiritual experience, living, and sharing in a predominantly Catholic environment.

How long do volunteers participate?

Volunteers can participate anywhere from one week to one year. We recommend staying for at least a month in order to have a rich experience of service at Magdala. The type of activities volunteers can be involved in depends on the length of their stay.

What activities do volunteers do at Magdala?

Volunteers are integral in running the daily activities at Magdala and attending to each visitor that enters the site. The activities available for volunteers depend on the length of stay, seasonal projects, general necessities at Magdala, and the skills and experience of each volunteer.

What will I do if I stay for…

…1-2 weeks? …3-6 weeks? …2-4 months? …5 months – 1 year?
Volunteers who participate for 1-2 weeks are trained specifically on 1-2 of the following jobs:

  • Cleaning
  • Small maintenance projects
  • Gift shop projects (ex: bottling Synagogue Sand, water from the Sea of Galilee)
  • Seasonal projects

(ex: harvesting dates, harvesting olives, bottling olive oil)

  • Special projects

(vary depending on Magdala’s needs)

Volunteers staying for 3-6 weeks are trained for 1-3 jobs, depending on their interests, skills, and experience, as well as seasonal needs.

  • Cleaning
  • Maintenance
  • Gift shop projects
    (ex: bottling Synagogue Sand, water from the Sea of Galilee)
  • Seasonal projects
    (ex: harvesting dates, harvesting olives, bottling olive oil)
  • Special projects
    (vary depending on Magdala’s needs)
  • Greeting visitors
  • Projects at the volunteer house

For those staying more than 1 month:

  • Attending the Shops:
    • Entrances (English required)
    • Coffee Shop
Volunteers are trained for and can participate in many of these areas. We try as much as possible to make sure volunteers do the job(s) they most enjoy.

  • Maintenance
  • Cleaning
  • Tours
  • Greeting visitors

Attending the Shops: Some volunteers may be involved in the administrative tasks and inventories associated with the shops.

  • Entrances (English required)
  • Gift Shop
  • Coffee Shop
  • A variety of seasonal and/or special projects (vary depending on Magdala’s needs)
  • Projects at the volunteer house
Long-term volunteers have the opportunity to specialize in 1-2 areas and have more responsibilities within those areas. Therefore, we carefully consider skills, interests, and experiences in order to match volunteers with activities that benefit both Magdala and volunteers’ personal growth and satisfaction.

  • Maintenance
  • Cleaning
  • Tours
  • Greeting visitors
  • Preparing Liturgical Celebrations
  • Attending the Shops:

Long-term volunteers may oversee administrative tasks as well as become specialized in the operation of the shops, inventories, product ordering, etc.

  • Entrances (English required)
  • Gift Shop
  • Coffee Shop
  • Management and supervision of the Visitor’s Center
  • A variety of seasonal and/or special projects (vary depending on Magdala’s needs)
  • Projects and/or supervision at the volunteer house

What is the cost?

The cost of participating is comprised of:

  1. Round trip airplane ticket
    • Volunteers are responsible for the cost of their airfare.
  2. Participation fee *
  • For a stay of 0-3 months, the participation fee is based on a daily rate:
    • First month: Daily rate of $28 USD per day
    • Second and third months: Daily rate of $18 USD per day
    • For a stay of 4 or more months, the participation fee is a fixed rate of $840 USD.
  1. Health insurance
    • Health insurance is required; we recommend purchasing an Israeli health insurance policy that costs $2.20 USD per day.
  2. Personal expenses
    • We recommend budgeting about $150 USD per month to cover the costs of:
      • National Park and Holy Site entrance fees
      • Toiletries
      • Souvenirs
      • Travel outside of the trips scheduled within the Volunteer Program

* The Participation Fee includes:

  • A shared room (2-6 people per room, private bathroom) in the volunteer house. Rooms are not co-ed. Sheets, pillowcase, a blanket, and a towel are provided.
  • 3-4 meals per day.
  • Transportation to and from Magdala (daily).
  • Transportation for 2 weekly trips to Holy Sites and/or sites of historical/cultural importance.
  • Wi-Fi.
  • Laundry facility (available for use once a week) and detergent.

Where do volunteers stay?

The volunteers live in a historic compound for pilgrims belonging to the Melkite Greek Catholic Church in Tiberias, just a block away from the Sea of Galilee. The house has a chapel, laundry area, Wi-Fi, air conditioned/heated rooms, and a dining area. Its central location allows for easy walking access to local shops, restaurants, supermarkets, shopping centers, banks, ATMs, pharmacies, and the Sea of Galilee.

What does a typical day at Magdala look like?

Weekday (Monday-Friday) Schedule:
6:45 – Breakfast
7:15 – Leave for Magdala
7:30 – Morning Prayer
8:00 –Magdala Opens, volunteer activities begin
10:00-10:30 –Snack break
12:45 –Mass
1:30 –Lunch
2:00 –Activities resume / Leave for trip (Wednesdays) or chores (Thursdays)
5:30 –Begin closing routine / Return from trip (Wednesdays) or finish chores (Thursdays)
6:15 –Return home
7:45 –Pre-Dinner Chores begin
8:00 –Dinner
8:30 –Post-Dinner Chores begin
10:00 –Quiet hours begin

Will I be able to travel around Israel?

Yes! The longer you stay, the more you will get to see.

The Volunteer Program organizes two trips per week: one half-day trip on a weekday (after a half day of work at Magdala) and one full day trip on the weekend. Volunteers help to plan the trip schedule every 1-2 months. We visit a variety of sites, focusing on the most important Holy Sites as well as places of historical and cultural importance.

“Guard Shifts”

All volunteers choose a few trips they will miss in order to cover shifts at Magdala. All volunteers are expected to take “Guard Shifts.” The volunteers collaborate to make the Guard Shift calendar each month.
Volunteers are also encouraged to use their free day to explore the country using public transportation.

Do volunteers have any free days?

Yes. Sundays are the free day for most volunteers.

“Guard Shifts”

Just as with trip days, volunteers take “Guard Shifts” on Sundays. If a volunteer chooses a Sunday Guard Shift, his/her free day will be a weekday preceding or following that Sunday (depending on activities at Magdala).

Depending on the length of stay, volunteers may request personal days for rest or independent travel (within our outside of Israel). Personal days must be requested and approved by the Volunteer Coordinator with anticipation so that a substitute can be arranged for each volunteer’s job during his/her absence.

What language(s) do I need to speak?


The main language for communication with pilgrims is English.

The main languages for communication among volunteers are Spanish and English.

What meals are provided and what are they like?

Breakfast, snack, lunch, and dinner are provided daily. Fresh fruit and water are available at every meal.

Breakfast: Cereal, milk, yogurt, dried fruits, nuts, tea and/or coffee.

Snack: Sandwich fixings, fresh fruit, tea and/or coffee.

Lunch: A hot lunch with a form of meat or chicken, a carbohydrate, and a vegetable or salad.

Dinner: A hot, light dinner. The cuisine varies, but normally includes meat/chicken and a carbohydrate.

What is a volunteer’s prayer/spiritual life like?

Magdala is a place where volunteers have the opportunity to experience a deep prayer life and spiritual renewal. The extent of each volunteer’s prayer or spiritual life depends on the individual. There are countless opportunities to receive sacraments, delve into personal or community prayer, or to look for and notice God in the natural surroundings and people that visit Magdala.

We have the following prayer and devotional times built into the schedule:

  • Morning prayer on weekdays.
  • Daily Mass (7 days a week).
  • Eucharistic Hour on Thursdays (1st Thursday of the month in Nazareth, the rest of the Thursdays at Magdala).
  • Magdala Prayer Family (Fridays, 3-4 pm. Community gathering for intercessory prayer for the intentions of Magdala’s visitors and friends).
  • Meditations on Holy Sites that we visit (given by one of the priests, consecrated women, or volunteer coordinators at each Holy Site).

The following sacraments or prayer times are available as often as the volunteer seeks them:

  • Personal Prayer (each volunteer is able to find the time that works best in between work and leisure for daily personal prayer).
  • Confession (available nearly daily with the priests at Magdala, and often on trips or at the Eucharistic hour in Nazareth).
  • Spiritual Retreats (offered 2-3 times a year for all volunteers. Depending on the length of their stay, each volunteer is encouraged to participate in a 1-3 day individual or small group retreat).
  • Personal Dialogue/Spiritual Guidance (available with the priests and consecrated women at Magdala).

What should I bring?

  • A Bible. (Old and New Testaments).
  • (The Volunteer Coordinator sends more specifics according to the season(s) occurring as a part of the application process.)
    • Comfortable work clothes (pants or knee-length shorts).
    • Modest attire for trips and visits to holy sites.
    • Comfortable work shoes (sneakers or boots) and walking shoes.
    • Workout clothes, pajamas, and bathing suit (even in the winter!).
  • Debit card and extra cash.
    • Withdrawing money (Shekels, Dollars, Euros) from ATMs guarantees the best exchange rates.
  • Technological device(s): laptop, tablet/iPad, smartphone, camera.

Medications: enough prescription medication for the entire length of your stay (plus 1-2 extra weeks). Most over-the-counter medications can be purchased in Israel, but it is wise to bring any medications that you take on a regular basis with you.

Do I need a Visa?

Volunteers from most countries staying for less than 3 months do not need a special visa.

Volunteers staying for more than 3 months need a Volunteer Visa. The Volunteer Coordinator helps each volunteer with the visa process.

What access will I have to technology and Internet?

The Volunteer House and Magdala are equipped with WiFi.

Volunteers must bring their own device(s): computer, tablet or iPad, smartphone. The Volunteer House does not have shared technological devices available for use.

Volunteers have access to a scanner and printer at Magdala.

Is transportation provided?

Volunteers are responsible for getting themselves from Ben Gurion International Airport (in Tel Aviv) to the Volunteer House (in Tiberias) upon arrival. The Volunteer Coordinator sends a map with the exact location of the house as well as the route via public transportation to all volunteers before their trip. Volunteers also have the option of arranging a taxi or chauffer service at their own expense.

Once the volunteer reaches the house, transportation is provided from the house to Magdala every day, as well as on the trips scheduled by the Volunteer Program.

Volunteers are free to use the extensive and safe public transportation to explore Israel on their free days.

Do I need a cell phone in Israel?

Most volunteers use WiFi to stay connected with family and friends at home.

There are affordable prepaid cell phone plans available locally. If you are interested in purchasing a plan, make sure your phone is unlocked and will accept an international SIM card. Volunteers are responsible for finding a provider and purchasing their own plan.

Volunteers can be reached by phone through the Volunteer Coordinator or any other Magdala staff member. A phone is available at Magdala to make international calls (in emergency circumstances only).

What are the benefits of volunteering at Magdala?

All of the benefits of volunteering at Magdala are impossible to list! The following are some highlights, from the volunteers themselves:

  • Experiencing the land, culture, geography, and important places by going on excursions throughout the Holy Land.
  • Making lasting friendships from all over the world.
  • Being able to share about our faith every day.
  • Doing something positive that changes lives, and seeing the fruits of our labor in the smiles on visitors’ faces as they leave Magdala.
  • Learning about the roots of our faith.
  • Being in the land where Jesus lived, walked, taught, healed…
  • Living with others – from different cultures, ages, and walks of life – in a family-like community.
  • Growing in spirit, mind, maturity, and love; learning something different from everyone around us.
  • Experiencing the satisfaction that comes from the opportunity to serve God by serving others.
  • Getting less attached to home and material things, and learning to value what is truly important instead.
  • Living in an environment where everyone’s main objective is to serve God and serve others.
  • Realizing every day how blessed we are to be in this beautiful, holy site on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.

Interested in hearing more about volunteers’ experiences at Magdala? Check out the testimonies on our website here.

Have more questions?

Please write to to ask any other questions you may have!

Contact Information

Operating Hours
All year: Monday - Sunday 08:00 – 18:00

Magdala (near present day Migdal) is located on the western coastline of the Sea of Galilee (Kinneret) and at the eastern foothills of Mount Arbel. Read More

Migdal Junction, P.O. Box 366, 1495000 Migdal, Israel

+972 4 620 9900

Volunteer guided tours: or call 053-226-1469

Mass or Prayer service reservations: or call 053-444-6406

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