Har’el – Preparatory program for IDF
The Har’el Preparatory Program for IDF (Mechinah) is a unique program, tailored specifically for Russian speaking high school graduates from within the Youth Village and from all of Israel. During a 6 months period, the students are exposed to Israeli society, getting deeply acquainted with Zionism and Jewish identity. They volunteer in the community and travel the land, while developing their leadership skills in preparation for a meaningful service in the Israeli Defense Forces.
GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
The project is intended to connect Russian speaking youth from Russia and Ukraine to Zionism, Judaism and the State of Israel. The Mechinah strives to fully absorb and integrate the Russian immigrant youngsters into Israeli society, by promoting the values of Tikkun Olam and equal opportunities for immigrants and sabras. Moreover, our goal is to fully prepare the students for a meaningful military service, thus realizing their potential as equal and contributing members of society.
The need has arisen from previous years’ realization that many of the students have difficulties to find, upon high school graduation, a place suitable for their specific needs as Russian speaking youth from Russia and Ukraine. All other preparatory programs for IDF in Israel are intended for the Hebrew speaking population, thus many of the Russian speakers do not take part in these programs. Moreover, youth emigrated from Russia have a very limited connection to their roots, Jewish identity, and the State of Israel, making it difficult for them to be accepted into elite military units.
New immigrants, mostly alone in Israel, from Russia and Ukraine, aged 18-20, 70% of which are students of the Village.
POTENTIAL FOR SUCESS
The Har’el preparatory program was initiated 2 years ago, each year for one 6-month cycle of studies. Therefore, 2 cycles have been completed. Out of 14 participants of the first cycle, 9 men and 5 women, 7 have enrolled into full combat track in the IDF, while the rest also serve in meaningful posts. 2 are serving in special units to which they were not accepted before the Mechinah. All of them are lone soldiers.
23 students graduated the second cycle which ended recently; all of them are expected to serve in the IDF in interesting and meaningful positions. All of them are lone soldiers as well.
This is a one-of a kind program which has never existed before. The previous two cycles were carried out with outmost success, thus the enrollment to the upcoming cycle has increased.