Settlers and Tel Avivians, religious and secular people, parents, grandparents, and freshly discharged soldiers are talking about the future of Israeli society. This isn’t the beginning of a joke. It’s what’s happening for the third year in the alumni coordinator forum of the mechinot (pre-military leadership academies).
On Tuesday, June 5, 2018, at the Jerusalem Center for Young Adults, 40 coordinators from the secular, traditional, and Orthodox mechinot marked the end of a productive year in which we came together in each of the past nine months for professional training in mechina alumni community management.
During training sessions, we split up into small groups, engaged in peer consultation, and acquired practical tools: data-based work, network building, practical knowledge for managing alumni events and organizations, and more. Alongside “What?” and “How?” we always made a point of asking “Why?” We met with leaders from the public sector, social initiatives, community-building projects, and the world of education, and we introduced ourselves to dozens of organizations and programs that offer alumni ways to have an impact. Simultaneously, with professional guidance, we explored questions of community and community organization in the alumni world. (Community? Network? Alumni organization?)
Feedback and year-end recaps show that something this year was on target—in separate and joint sessions, in small groups and all together, in the ever-expanding circle that encompasses everything from the tiniest details of each individual mechina to the collective enterprise that is the mechinot and our partners.
One word more from us coordinators: Managing the alumni communities is a world unto itself. It’s nothing like the routine at the mechinot, and it’s far more challenging. Still, it encourages us to see how each mechina forges its own way forward, at its own pace, to crack this riddle, which is our million-dollar question. We’re far from having all the answers. However, as we learned this year with Tomer Oshry, a former head of Mechinat Hanegev and now the principal of Seligsberg High School, when you don’t know what, you don’t know how, but there is a fire in your belly, it’s fair to say that you’re moving in the right direction.
Thanks to the Jerusalem Center for Young Adults for the hospitality and support. Above all, thanks to our great cadre of coordinators and especially to our robust team of old-timers who are finishing up another year of working together: “United, tenacious, vigorous, an endeavor of a thousand arms. Verily, cannot the rock be rolled from the wellhead?”
Wishing all the mechinot a successful end to the year,
Assaf Shor and Tamar Zeira, Alumni Department coordinators.