“The truly righteous do not complain about evil, but rather add justice” Rabbi A.Y. HaCohen Kook.
In recent years, Israeli society has found itself increasingly facing the challenges of social intolerance. As time passes, and as the landscape of Israeli society grows more complex and diverse, tensions between different parts of our society is intensifying. As a result, BINA formed a partnership with the Hinam Center for Social Tolerance, in collaboration with the National Volunteer Association, to establish a new and unique pre-army program for high school graduates.
Through the program, a group of 28 young people aged 18-19 embark on a six-month immersive journey through Israeli society, gaining a deep familiarity with diverse communities, groups and locations in Israel. The group itself is made up of young people from a broad cross section of the population – the participants are religious and secular, Jews and Arabs, from towns and villages across the country. Some of the participants are preparing to draft for military service, and others are enrolled in the National Service program for outstanding students.
During the program participants live, learn and volunteer in seven different communities for 3 to 4 weeks at a time, including:
• Kibbutz Tzora, an agricultural socialist community
• The Arab village of Deir al-Assad in the Galilee
• Kfar Etzion, a religious Zionist settlement community in the West Bank
• The southern town of Yeruham, in Israel’s periphery
• An ultra-Orthodox community in Safed's Old City
• Urban secular society in south Tel Aviv
Each week the schedule includes meetings with the host community, exposing the participants to the lifestyle, values and challenges of the community. They also spend time on in-depth study with community leaders as well as with a range of community members. In addition, the weekly program includes general learning content on Israeli society, contemporary Zionism, Jewish identity, diversity and social action.
The underlying principle of the program is that only by encouraging a real and deep understanding of ‘the other’ – their world, their culture, their life – will we be able to overcome hostility and recognize their legitimacy and place in society. After experiencing the program, participants of this unique Mechina will serve as good will ambassadors and change agents within their families and among their social circles.
Mechinat Masabacha is supported by The Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, Levi Lassen Foundation and additional supporters.