One year ago, Mechinat Aderet reached the conclusion that it had grown so much, it needed a new home. “We went through the country and looked at 25 places,” says director Hila Gerchman. “In the meantime, the Ayanot Youth Village contacted us, not with any connection to our search, but because they wanted to consult with us about establishing a mechina focused on ecology. That’s how our partnership with the village came about. The mechina basically split into two branches: Revadim and Ayanot.”
The Ayanot Youth Village was established in 1930 as the largest training farm for women in the Land of Israel, where some 1,000 agricultural workers were trained and worked. The village has a rich historical heritage going back to the Zionist women pioneers of the Land of Israel before the British Mandate and is a great source of inspiration and learning.
After much planning and consideration, a mechina branch with 30 students was opened, the start of yet another chapter in the glorious history of the village: a history of agriculture and education. “We couldn’t have asked for a warmer, more accommodating home,” says Hila.
The mechina educates its students to practice sustainability, which comes across in a number of ways: work with teens on the village farm, tending crops in the greenhouses, connecting to the earth, and even camping in yurts (traditional Mongolian tents). In the mechina’s kitchen, students cook with produce from the village and make compost to grow more.
The mechina’s beit midrash (study hall) is open to all, and the village’s other students come to participate in classes there. Prayers also are open to all. The outlook of the Ayanot branch is all about making the mechina world accessible to teens who don’t generally have occasion to learn about it.
The second class, due next year, will have 45 students.
The directors of the branch are Hila and Matan, who are a couple for life and in mechina management. “Because we look at the mechina as part of our lives, we do it together. Both of us are originally social workers and alumni of youth movements. We live at the mechina.”
If you thought that combining marriage and professional life was courageous, that’s not all. Hila and Matan have news: “On August 31, we had twins: our daughter Dror and son Nevo. They’re growing along with the mechina, they participate in hikes, the students even change their diapers.”