Restrictions were imposed on educational institutions’ activities. The students of the mechinot were sent home. Then and there, the Joint Council of Mechinot decided that the mechinot would do everything in their power to provide for the country’s emergency needs.
All 55 mechinot transitioned to a routine of online learning, together with new formats of community volunteer work.
As social distancing requirements tightened, the Joint Council identified five critical areas for relief efforts: the citrus harvest, daycare for children of medical professionals, Magen David Adom call centers, assistance for the elderly and infirm, and operating institutions with indisposed staff. Working with Minister of Education Rafi Peretz and other nonprofits, the Joint Council led a groundbreaking effort that brought in 2,500 volunteers from the mechinot.
One noteworthy case is the Aleh home for individuals with disabilities, a facility in Gedera whose residents were left without staff because all the employees had gone into isolation. In the first stage, students from the Mechina of the Upper Galilee rallied (with the necessary protective gear) to take care of them. Next week, students from other mechinot will join them. At this moment of truth, the mechinot are proving both their commitment to Israeli society and their superb executive abilities.
Joint Council CEO Dani Zamir said: “We’re carrying out the mechina students’ ultimate, bottom–up demand for action. Amazing young men and women are calling me and saying, ‘How can it be that we’re sitting at home when the country and its citizens need us?’ Getting the permits wasn’t a simple matter. However, the minister of education, our friend Rabbi Rafi Peretz, came through in his usual fine form and helped us overcome all the obstacles. I should note that our decision to leave home as volunteers required permission from parents, most of whom are partners in this effort and encouraging their children to take part. With all the difficulty—most of which we still have before us—this is a time when the world of the mechinot is really showing what it’s made of.