Commitment to Jewish Peoplehood
A key component of the vision of the Mechinot is to reach out beyond Israel's borders to build "peoplehood" connections with Jews throughout the world. Through the Yachad program the Council of Mechinot along with many of the individual academies offers gap year programs for Jewish High School Graduates. The program enables high school graduates to integrate fully with their Israeli counterparts and participate in all aspects of the Mechina program.
What is Yachad?
Yachad Gap Year gives you the opportunity to have the ultimate immersion experience in Israel, by participating in Israeli mechina programs with Israelis your age. The word Yachad means "together," and as a participant, your Israel experience will be more up-close and personal than any othere – because you'll be doing it together with your Israeli peers.
The word mechina means "preparation." When young Israelis want to take a gap year after high school, to learn more about their culture, society, and their Jewish identity, they can participate in one of 40 mechina programs. And just as Israelis use their mechina experience to launch them into elite units and leadership positions in the IDF, you can use your mechina experience to enhance your resume and improve your standing in university admissions.
Today, there are mechina programs in all parts of Israel, representing all different parts of Israeli society. There are mechinot in the bustle and excitement of Tel Aviv, in the natural beauty of the Golan Heights, or in the serene calm of the Negev desert. There religious Zionist mechinot, mechinot that bring religious and secular Jews together, mechinot that promote volunteering in Arab-Jewish coexistence projects and more.
Yachad represents several of these mechinot, whose goal is to forge strong connections between Jews in the Diaspora with Israel and their Israeli peers, while building a sense of Jewish peoplehood in the next generation of Jewish leaders, both in Israel and around the Jewish world.
All mechinot are approve by the Israeli ministries of Education and Defense, and are held to rigorous standards for program quality.
Each mechina within Yachad involves volunteering and engagement with the surrounding community. Many projects include working in the formal education system, as well as after-school programs and work with disabled and elderly residents of the area. Additional projects may include building and maintaining nature trails, rehabilitating nature preserves, or doing one-time projects with the surrounding community.
The kinds of volunteering projects and the amount of time each week dedicated to volunteering vary between mechinot.
All mechinot are built on the foundation of intensive study in the topics of Jewish texts, thought and philosophy; Jewish identity; Zionist history and philosophy; Israeli society and culture; and more. In addition, mechinot place a strong emphasis on teaching leadership skills. The study programs aim to strengthen students' connection to the Jewish people and the land of Israel, while preparing them to become the next generation of leaders around the Jewish world.
The mechinot are all certified by the Israeli Ministry of Education and are held to rigorous standards for quality of instruction, and employ highly trained and qualified teaching staffs who hold advanced academic degrees in their fields.
Studies are conducte in a variety of formats, from traditional lectures, to seminars, to small group studies, to lessons prepared and taught by the students themselves. Lessons are complemente by tours and encounters, through which students gain first-hand experience of the subjects that they deal with in the classroom. The approach to the topics varies between mechinot – from traditional, Orthodox Beit Midrash formats, to more secular approaches, and everything in-between.
Yachad offers you the ultimate immersion experience in Israel, because Yachad gives you the chance to participate in Israeli mechina programs. You'll live, study, volunteer and explore Israel with Israeli peers your own age. With Yachad, you're not a tourist – you're a part of Israel in every way.
By living with Israelis, taking classes conducted entirely in Hebrew, and volunteering in the community surrounding your mechina, you'll learn Hebrew faster, and gain a deeper and fuller understanding of Israel and its people than is possible on any other gap-year program. And with Yachad, you can choose an English-language program, or choose to go all-in with an all-Hebrew program.
Students in mechina programs form tight-knit, familial communities, creating life-long friendships their fellow participants. The connections that you'll make as a Yachad participant won't disappear at the end of the semester or year – your bonds with your Israeli friends will last you a lifetime.