Every year, upon graduating from high school and before entering between two tothree years of military service, 75 young Israeli men and women join yearlong gap year programs in Jaffa and Holon, termed “Mechina” in Hebrew. Throughout the year, the participants enjoy studying with leading Israeli figures in a variety of areas, including Jewish thought, community development, economics and more. The participants living in the Mechina houses volunteer in the community with underprivileged populations, the elderly and people with disabilities; and develop a sense of leadership to serve them as they enter meaningful posts in the IDF. The Mechina is a very competitive program, and only those who show the potential of being influential leaders in their community and in the army are chosen out of hundreds of applicants each year. The IMPJ Mechina is well-known in the Tel Aviv-Jaffa and Holon areas for having a very positive influence on the community. The Mechina program is conducted in Hebrew and requires command of spoken Hebrew.
One of the main aspects of the Mechina program is Jewish learning. Throughout the year, participants engage in Jewish texts through a modern lens, studying a variety of topics, including the weekly Torah portion, Talmud, topics in Israeli identity and culture, philosophy and more. As part of their learning experience, participants take part in a number of seminars throughout the year where they engage in depth with key issues in Jewish identity and Israeli society.
SOCIAL ACTION - TIKKUN OLAM
The Mechina operates out of a sense of mission andresponsibility towards their local community, the greater society and the world. Believing that all people were created B’Tzelem Elohim – in the image of God, all of the Mechina’s activities are done out of a sense of global mission. As part of their volunteering program, to which they devote much of their time, the Mechina participants volunteer with the various populations in Jaffa and Holon, including Jews and Arabs, migrant workers and refugees, children, senior citizens and more.
COMMUNITY LIFE AND INDEPENDECE
Life at the Mechina is based upon a high level of independence. The Mechina participants are completely responsible for their everyday schedule, including managing their day-to-day schedule, preparing meals for themselves, and leading meaningful projects in the community. Each participant is active in at least one Mechina committee, including "the home", fieldtrips, recruitment, sports, community relations, ecology and gardening, culture and spirit and more.
PRAYER AND JEWISH CALENDER
Life The Mechina participants seek to feel and experience the Jewish calendar together. To do so, the Mechina celebrates Shabbat and holidays, memorial days and days of joy together. The Mechina uses both traditional prayer texts, as well as modern Israeli songs, inspirational pieces of writing and individual participant expression. Throughout the year, participants develop and lead ceremonies and prayer services as a pathway to spiritual growth and dialogue with Jewish tradition and with the world.
Both Jaffa and Holon are vibrant and complex cities comprising of both new andold, Jews and Arabs, sabras and immigrants, citizens and refugees and migrant workers. Living in a city offers a variety of experiences and attractions alongside many educational and social challenges. The Mechina serves as part of this fabric and is completely involved in its surroundings.