Anyone can make a difference to our fate and humanity’s future by acting in an environmentally thoughtful way from day to day. That’s the message behind Earth Day, a UN-recognized occasion marked throughout our planet on April 22 of every year.
In honor of Earth Day, students from various mechinot took a break from their usual schedules to take part in environmental activities across Israel. For example, the students of Mechinat Nachshon participated in Nikyon HaMillion (Cleanup for Millions), an initiative that seeks to clean up Israel’s open spaces and deepen environmental awareness. Also participating was Mechinat Tzahali, under the leadership of the mechina’s environmental protection team.
The students of Mechinat Tzahali traveled to Azrikam Forest, in the southern coastal plain, where they cleaned up litter left behind by hikers. “To prepare for the activity,” says Emunah, a Tzahali student on the mechina’s environmental protection team, “we gave the other students a backgrounder on the region we were going to clean up, and before that we gave a lesson on the climate crisis and the state of the the planet. Over the course of the day, we cleaned up the park and collected lots of bags of garbage.” The students of Mechinat Nachshon participated in Nikyon HaMillion, too.
At Melach HaAretz’s Mechinat Bnot Hamidbar, based at Kibbutz Ein Gedi, students went out for a cleaning blitz on the shore of the Dead Sea in the area of Metzukei Dragot. They were joined by the members of the mechina’s incoming class, who got to know each other during the hike, took part in team-building activities, and got a lesson on protecting the environment.
The mechina’s dynamic students also met up with artist Doron Gazit. To raise public awareness of the declining water level in the sea at the world’s lowest point, they helped him install The Red Line by laying a huge red balloon along the coast of the Dead Sea.
The students of Mechinat Rabin at Admit went to save the cyclamens from a thicket where a new neighborhood of their kibbutz is slated to be built. They used specialized tools to carefully dig up the cyclamen tubers, and put them aside for the mechina’s next class to plant around the kibbutz and the mechina’s grounds.
Not just on Earth Day
Earth Day isn’t the only day when mechina students take action for the environment. According to the scientific consensus, our planet is experiencing a major environmental crisis that is only beginning to manifest. They know how important it is to protect the environment, and they do so in multiple ways.
Just a few weeks ago, as the election approached, they participated in a protest march calling for an immediate response to the environmental crisis. Under the leadership of the students of the Mechina at Hannaton, students from various mechinot also produced a video (Hebrew) calling on government ministers to take urgent action.
These activities and others are led by a joint sustainability forum, founded this year by students from a number of mechinot. “They’re basically a bunch of mechinot that are trying to further the cause of environmental protection,” explains Emunah. “There are two representatives from each mechina who are in charge, and everyone takes care of furthering the issue at his own mechina. That’s why it was important to us to do something for Earth Day and give a lesson at mechina about environmental awareness.”
“I see the process that my friends at mechina are undergoing,” Emunah continues. “At first they laughed, but now I see—and this goes for me too—that awareness of the issue has really gone up. The girls left for Passover vacation, and when they got back, they were proud of the fact that during the holiday, they’d picked up garbage without giving it a thought, or they’d taken wooden utensils on a hike instead of disposable utensils. It trickles through, and we try to talk about it as much as possible at mechina.”
“Recently we cleaned up Lake Nitzanim, and we were taken aback by the amount of garbage people had left there,” recalls Emunah. “It really had an impact on us. My feeling is that the students understand how important the issue is and they’ll carry it forward with them from mechina on to the rest of life. It’s important for every mechina to do that.”