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The Joint Council of Pre-Military Academies (Mechinot) - JCM

About the Joint Council

The mission of the Joint Council of Mechinot (Pre-Military Leadership Academies), the representative organization of all mechinot in Israel, is to turn the common educational vision of these institutions into practical reality. The Joint Council is a registered nonprofit whose membership consists of the fifty-four mechinot accredited by the Israeli Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Education.

The mission of the Joint Council of Mechinot (Pre-Military Leadership Academies), the representative organization of all mechinot in Israel, is to turn the common educational vision of these institutions into practical reality. The Joint Council is a registered nonprofit whose membership consists of the fifty-four mechinot accredited by the Israeli Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Education, including:

  • 24 Orthodox mechinot, which serve young men and women who have graduated from the National Religious school system

  • 30 mechinot that serve the secular and traditional population.

In total, approximately 3,500 students complete mechina studies every year.

At this time, the Joint Council is in the midst of an effort to more precisely focus its strategy and activities in order to formulate a more effective work plan that reflects the spirit of the Joint Council and will be a vehicle for continuing to translate its vision into reality.

Vision:

The aspiration of the mechinot is to produce Israeli leaders motivated by values and social vision that will profoundly change the country, heralding the arrival of a new, ethical, humanistic class of leaders with a volunteering spirit.

Responsibilities of the Joint Council:

  • Representation of the mechinot and their interests to the government and its agencies (such as the National Insurance Institute, municipal governments, and the IDF),

  • Lobbying the Knesset.

  • Developing the mechinot by expanding them, facilitating ongoing improvement, and assisting in efforts to achieve a more diverse student population.

  • Encouragement of academic and practical collaboration between mechinot on the basis of shared principles.

  • Raising and pooling funds for activities.

  • Imparting an ethical view of the world to students by conceiving new initiatives and conducting activities.

  • Conducting a long-term ethical and pedagogical discourse between the leaders of the various mechinot through unique seminars, meetings, and training for mechina staff.

  • Recruitment of students for all traditional and secular mechinot.

  • Recruitment of students from abroad.

  • Promoting and initiating activities in which mechina alumni take the lead or participate.

  • Coordination of aid efforts on the part of mechinot during times of national crisis.

  • Increasing public awareness of the mechinot in Israel and among Jews abroad.

Educational projects directed by the Joint Council:

Courses of study for current mechina students:

  • Meeting in One Land, a program that fosters direct interaction and acquaintance between Arabs and Jews.

  • The Lishmah Gender Equality and Empowerment Studies Program.

  • Judaism and Democracy, a Joint Council project that promotes commitment to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.

  • Judaism, Zionism, and Jewish Peoplehood, a project that brings more in-depth and far-ranging study of Judaism to the mechinot.

Increasing diversity in the mechina student population:

  • Israeli Mosaic, a program that promotes the integration at the mechinot of socially excluded groups.

  • Mainstreaming young people with disabilities at the mechinot.

  • Tuition assistance fund for economically disadvantaged students.

  • Yachad, the mechina program for Jews from outside Israel.

Alumni program:

The Zionist Horizon program helps mechina alumni forge lives of ethical and national fulfillment.

Alumni offerings are a key area of Joint Council activity whose goal is to inspire the majority of mechina graduates to lead a life of mission and social vision by assuming leadership roles in Israeli society, including the civil service, municipal governments, the school system, and informal educational settings.

Major achievements of the Joint Council:

  • Successful lobbying for the Pre-Military Leadership Academies Act of 2008, which assured funding for the mechinot from the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Education.

  • Free mass transit for mechina students, as of a 2015 regulation that gave mechina students equal rights to those of National Civil Service participants.

  • Facilitation of uncommonly close cooperation between Israelis from left and right, religious and secular backgrounds, and all sectors of society, who are brought together by the mechinot and the Joint Council.

  • 200% increase in projects of national scale spearheaded by the mechinot in the past two years, with participation of approximately 2,500 students.

  • Enhancing the diversity of the mechinot through a cooperative effort that helped bring 250 Ethiopian Israelis and twenty young people with disabilities to the current mechina class (up from 112 and two the previous year, respectively).

Honors:

  • On Israel Independence Day 2016, Rabbi Eli Sadan, founder and head of the Bnei David Mechina in Eli, was awarded the Israel Prize for his instrumental part in establishing the mechina system.

  • In 2010, the mechina enterprise was awarded the Yigal Allon Prize for Outstanding Pioneering Work.

Background and establishment:

The Joint Council of Mechinot was established in 2008 after many years of increasing collaborative efforts among the various mechinot without any joint body. The need for a coordinating organization to give these cooperative efforts formal expression grew with the summer 2008 Pre-Military Leadership Academies Act, passed in the Knesset by a large majority and without a single opposing vote, which called for the establishment of mechanisms for the accreditation, expansion, and continued success of the mechinot. Following the passage of the law, all of the mechinot accredited by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Defense together decided to give formal expression to their common work.

The mechina system originated within the religious Zionist community in Israel, and from there spread to the secular and traditional public.

The first mechina was founded in 1989, marking the beginning of an era of rapid and successful growth of institutions to prepare religious Zionist youth for military service. The first traditional and secular mechinot were founded in 1997 with the close assistance of the Orthodox mechinot, and these new institutions as well quickly blossomed.

 jcm history

Singularity of the Joint Council:

The Joint Council stands out as virtually the only voluntary group in Israel in which people of all stripes—religious and secular, right and left, and so on—work together in the service of a national goal on the basis of friendship, trust, and mutuality, and despite considerable differences between the worldviews of the leaders at the helms of the various mechinot. Membership in the Joint Council is not mandated by law, but a choice made by each individual mechina. The fact that all of the mechinot choose to be members of the Joint Council attests to the strong shared foundation that is the secret behind the growing success of their educational work. For this reason, there always are two officers leading the Joint Council, one representing the secular mechinot and another representing the Orthodox academies, and all decisions are made through open dialogue between secular and religious individuals. In this way, the mechinot and the Joint Council maintain an atmosphere of trust and friendship that has proven stronger than the historic trials that have tested both it and all of Israeli society since the mechinot were created.

This website was created by the Joint Council in order to make information about the mechinot more readily available and to strengthen the connection between the mechinot and the wider public.

We invite you to join the growing group of students, alumni, families, friends, and supporters of the pre-military leadership academies—the Zionist educational project that is leading the most dramatic and captivating social revolution in contemporary Israel society.

 

The original articles on this website was translated from Hebrew by David B. Greenberg

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