The Mechinah movement in Israel, which we’ve mentioned several times, has existed for decades, but really took off after the assassination of Prime Minster Yitzchak Rabin in 1995. There was a desperate need, leading Israeli educators recognized, to develop programs for kids who had graduated high school but not yet begun the army, to think about Jewish tradition, democracy, civil society and the purpose of the country they are about to serve. What emerged was a series of Mechinah programs, one year opportunities after twelfth grade and before the army, for young Israelis to spend a year thinking, learning and (in many of them) meeting people very much unlike themselves.
There are dozens of these Mechinah programs, in which some 5,000 young Israelis are enrolled each year. There are religious mechinot, mechinot that are continuations of youth movements, and mixed mechinot, where religious and secular kids spend a year together.
There’s only capacity for about half of those who wish to attend, so more are on their way. In an earlier episode, quite some time ago, we heard an Israeli Arab woman speak about the need for a Mechinah for young Israeli Arabs. And in today’s episode, we hear from Sharon Vardi, founder of the Mechinah “Leshatef Atzmeinu”, and Nora Berger, a participant in his program—about Mechinah formed for the parents of these young people.
Parents are watching the transformative experience their kids are having, and suddenly wanted to know why they cannot have the same conversations, be exposed to some of the same things. Parents, of course, cannot take off a year and move to the desert to think and read and discuss. So Sharon Vardi founded a program that fits what the parents can manage.
You can see more information (in Hebrew) on the program here: Leshatef Atzmenu
The link above will take you to our conversation, which is a part of our summer series on a mosaic of Israeli educational programs you may not have heard of.
[The person on our staff who usually prepares the transcripts is away, having just got married—transcripts will return when she does ….]
Music credits: Medieval poem by Rabbi Shlomo Ibn Gvirol. Melody and performance by Shaked Jehuda and Eyal Gesundheit. Production by Eyal Gesundheit. To view a video of their performance, see this YouTube:
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