During Operation Guardian of the Walls, the city of Lod was under fire. Riots, widespread acts of arson, and ruthless violence rained down fear and destruction on the city. A major focal point of the riots was Mechinat Maoz, located in Lod’s Ramat Eshkol neighborhood.
“Hundreds of Arabs, of our neighbors, came down here and burned everything,” says Rabbi Barak Ukavi, head of the mechina. “They burned the mechina’s car and the tables in the beit midrash. They broke the gate, all the windows, the entrance to the mechina. Their intention was to destroy a beit midrash in the State of Israel.”
The beit midrash of Mechinat Maoz
In normal times, the mechina dedicates itself to Torah study, Zionism, values, army prep, and community volunteering. In recent days, though, it found itself at ground zero of a national struggle. Of a night, it became the command center for all the volunteers who came to rebuild and strengthen the Ramat Eshkol neighborhood.
Many came to help repair the damage at the mechina too. They brought with them the sort of strength that appears only in moments of crisis. “That’s the Jewish people for you,” says Rabbi Ukavi proudly. “If they think we lost here, then we showed the whole world, and ourselves above all, that the Jewish people lives, and no one can make that love go away.”
Now more than ever
At the moment, while also coordinating the reconstruction of the neighborhood and itself, the mechina is getting ready for new high school graduates to visit for a test run ahead of the coming school year. According to Noam Dreyfuss, the mechina’s CEO, the plan is to double enrollment next year. The goal is to strengthen the neighborhood and the city. The slogan: “They tried to destroy us, we’re expanding!”