Carrying the flame forward
The students of Mechinat Ami Chai spent four days of Chanuka trekking through the Israeli countryside. Their journey began at the door of the mechina, on Kibbutz Keramim, and came to an end at the summit of Masada. The march was dedicated to the memory of two IDF soldiers, Dor Haim Nini and Yuval Heiman, who fell in action in 2014.
“The Maccabees,” recounted mechina director Yair Tiktin at the closing ceremony on Masada, “kindled the flame of rebellion 2,200 years ago with their desire to establish an independent Jewish state with Jerusalem as its capital. Two hundred fifty years later, Masada remained as the final stronghold, and from there, there remained one small pitcher of oil, a torch with a small flame, that passed from generation to generation until Theodor Herzl called on the children of the Maccabees to return to the stage of history. And ever since, that torch has been kept alight, through the time of the pioneers, the Underground, the soldiers of the IDF, and until our very day. And today, you, the students of the mechina, carry the torch on.”
This year, Mechinat Ami Chai inaugurated a second-year program. The first class of the new program conducted a Chanuka candle-lighting ceremony for their building in Neurim, a neighborhood of Arad. The event was the first of its kind: some of their neighbors hadn’t ever met other residents of the building, and some hadn’t had the experience of lighting Chanuka candles.
Illuminating the community
On the fifth night of Chanuka, students from the Kfar Hanasi affiliate of the Mechina of the Upper Galilee set out to bring light to their community, going from door to door on the local kibbutz while playing and singing Chanuka songs. The families were very appreciative of the gesture, and some invited the students in.
On the first night of the holiday, the mechina held a torchlight parade with the members of the kibbutz. With Chanuka songs playing in the background, the students and kibbutz members marched throughout the nighttime darkness, then lit the first Chanuka candle at the end of the procession.
In Eli, students and staff are in the midst of dedicating the new study hall of Mechinat Bnei David. A festive candle-lighting was held in the new facility with the participation of Rabbi Eli Sadan, the founder and head of the mechina
At BINA, parents came to join their children for an intergenerational evening of study. The event, facilitated by mechina staff, centered around a discussion of the fascinating and complicated nature of the parent–child relationship, and included study in small interfamily groups of a range of texts on the subject. At the end of the evening, participants lit candles and enjoyed a holiday supper prepared by the visiting family members.
The students of the Meitzar Academy for Leadership and Social Responsibility traveled to Jerusalem and took part in a graffiti artists’ event for parents and children in honor of the holiday. The graffiti was designed with inspiration from the Tanakh under the artistic direction of Judy Tal Kopelman.
At celebrations and at work
Some mechinot used the holiday to make time for paid work, which helps ensure that all students, regardless of financial means, can choose to attend mechina. In some cases, all of the students from a mechina worked together; in others, they split into a number of groups. The students of Mechinat Beeri spent time working at a Tel Aviv bakery, whose products earned their expert approval.