Last Monday morning, alumni coordinators from mechinot across Israel met up at a unique place: the Eshkol region, adjacent to Gaza. They were there to learn firsthand about initiatives in the areas of community-building, agriculture, social entrepreneurship, and innovation, and thus deepen their connection to community-building and acquire new tools for their work with alumni.
The day started with a tour of the HomeTech Center, the region’s innovation and community hub, where personnel in the different departments explained how they strengthen the regional community and local innovation. From there, they went to take in the view from an observation point in Naveh, where David Bar-Chai, director of the Otzem Pre-military Torah Academy, told them about the local community, one-third of whose population graduated from mechinot. David also took them to greenhouses where tropical fruit is cultivated and on an agricultural tour that ended with hospitality and lunch warmly provided by the Otzem Pre-military Torah Academy. The alumni coordinators then traveled to Kerem Shalom, the final stop of the day, where they met with the community director and residents, toured the area, and learned about the challenges of living in a kibbutz on the front lines and the opportunities afforded by an emerging community.
The day sharpened the alumni coordinators’ sense of mission—and ours—as we continue providing activities for alumni and help them make homes in Israel’s geographic and social periphery.
The day sharpened the alumni coordinators’ sense of mission—and ours—as we continue providing activities for alumni and help them make homes in Israel’s geographic and social periphery. Building communities in the north and south of Israel connects mechina students and alumni even more strongly with the Zionist values that beat powerfully inside them. Thanks to everyone who took part!