The Mechinot

The Pre-Military Academies (Mechinot)

Eliran Oster

Eliran Oster was born in 1988 with only one hand. He and his family live in Givat Sha’ul. His family is religious: Eliran’s mother was motivated by the example of family members to became religious about a year after marrying his father, who then took Eliran’s mother’s lead. The family affiliates with the religious Zionist movement.

Eliran Oster

A personal story

Eliran Oster was born in 1988 with only one hand. He and his family live in Givat Sha’ul. His family is religious: Eliran’s mother was motivated by the example of family members to became religious about a year after marrying his father, who then took Eliran’s mother’s lead. The family affiliates with the religious Zionist movement.

Eliran is their eldest child, and he is the elder brother of another son and a daughter. While in school, Eliran used an artificial arm. He was unsure of how to proceed in life after graduating from high school, because unlike other Israelis of his age, he would be unable to serve in the IDF unless he took unusual measures. At that point, a friend mentioned to Eliran that he had enrolled in a mechina (pre-military leadership academy). Eliran became interested and spent several days observing activities at the Elisha Mechina. A meeting with Rabbi Yitzchak Nissim, the head of the mechina, convinced Eliran that this was the place for him. In a subsequent interview with Eliran, Rabbi Nissim said that he would take special pleasure in having Eliran and other individuals with disabilities in his mechina because this would give him an opportunity to shatter stereotypes and myths about this population. Eliran explained to Rabbi Nissim that he was not supposed to be conscripted by the IDF and might therefore participate only in classes of an academic nature, but Rabbi Nissim insisted to the contrary, even asserting that Eliran might ultimately enlist.

Eliran registered and began his mechina studies. As time went on, he came to participate in all activities, both academic and physical, and even led his peers in several of the latter. Aside from participating in all mechina activities, Eliran stopped using his artificial arm. His time at mechina and his acceptance by the leadership of the institution and his fellow students helped him accept himself as he was, blemishes and all, to the point that he no longer felt a need for a prosthesis.

Like all volunteers, Eliran had to endure a lengthy process before he was admitted to the IDF, where he found himself on Training Base 11 as a noncommissioned commander in the Education Corps. Today Eliran teaches the military heritage of Israel to trainees on his base, gives trainees geographic surveys, and discusses the news and other relevant topics with them. He also organizes holiday celebrations and ceremonies, and bears responsibility for educational affairs on base. At this time, efforts are underway to help Eliran move on to a more meaningful and challenging capacity in which he will be able to give full expression to the many talents that he exhibits despite his disability.

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