Ronnie Shashoua, a participant on the BINA GAP Mechina year, is getting ready for another elections and study the Israeli political landscape.
With the upcoming elections looming over the whole country, it’s no surprise that several mechina participants (mechinistim) decided to take initiative in planning a seminar to help bring awareness within the Mechina to several key election issues and party campaigns. This event fulfills a couple of BINA mechina’s core priorities: it started as a mechinist led initiative, and remains an event that leaves decisions of logistics and content with us rather than staff, and it improves political and social awareness within the group—while still emphasizing pluralism and diversity of thought. A similar seminar was organized by Gap mechinistim in early November to educate the Israeli cohort on the issues in the then-approaching American elections; therefore, the Israeli mechinistim planning the election seminar invited me onto the team (tzevet) not just as a co-organizer, but as a liaison for my international group.
Generally mechinistim are trusted with an astounding amount of power that comes with running the mechina, whether it be planning our biweekly Shabbat services and activities or handling the schedule for kitchen duty, but the election tzevet has truly been able to reap the benefits of gaining the trust of our staff in our logistical capabilities. We’ve been given full creative and intellectual freedom over all content for the actual seminar. It’s hard to represent the full spectrum of a group of over 70 mechinistim’s political views, but we’ve worked hard to put together wide ranges of political, educational activities, including a panel of politicians, an exploration of political satire and how it affects or reflects the way we look at politics and politicians, and in depth discussions of hot topics in the upcoming elections.
Along with being fully in charge of the schedule of the three day seminar, we get to plan out the logistics of the days leading up to the actual election, which falls right before our Passover break. Israeli mechinistim get the equivalent of a small loan from the government to pay off part of their cost of mechina, and during the year it is up to the tzevet in charge of handling the mechinistim’s budgets to find opportunities for work days and work weeks to pay this back collectively. One such opportunity to work the night shift at the polls post-election gives the election tzevet the kind of organizing power that fully exemplifies why I came to BINA mechina. We got to create a schedule for our final week leading up to our Passover break, taking into account time off to let mechinistim go home to vote, rest before their night shift, time for preparing and eating meals (including an early mechina Passover seder!), organizing the campus before we leave, and other mechina time and activities that are necessary before we leave for ten days. Several possible iterations of this schedule were made, presented to the mechina in a forum setting, and opened to suggestions before getting finalized as the official mechina schedule.
I arrived at the mechina looking for an opportunity for a stepping stone into the full freedom of adult life, away from the safety net of high school’s strict restrictions. So far, the sheer possibility of life in the mechina has allowed me to continue my development as someone who can handle logistical, organizational, and intellectual challenges. It has allowed me to pursue the things I’m interested in, such as furthering my knowledge of Israeli politics—a country that I consider my family’s home country and one in which I can now have a political voice by voting and educating myself.