MECHINA PROGRAM

Kesher Yehudi works closely with Israel’s secular pre-army academies (mechinot) to deepen their understanding of Jewish identity and what they will be defending when they enlist in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

Meet the Mechinot

Mechina students are smart, inquisitive, and the future leaders of Israel.

They have chosen to take a year between high school and their mandatory IDF service to invest in developing their leadership skills. Their gap year is a time to deepen their knowledge about Israel and their Jewish heritage, and for many students, the program is their very first encounter with authentic Jewish text and wisdom.

The mechina program was created over a decade ago in collaboration with Col. Gilad Olshtein, Educational Director at the Nachshon Mechina. Participants of this elite mechina have a strong desire to learn, and a partnership was created to adapt Kesher Yehuda’s signature chavruta program to Nachshon’s three campuses.

Since then, the program has grown tremendously, with demand exponentially increasing during the war. Today, we work with 32 institutions – more than half of the 60 secular pre-army academies across the country – connecting more than 1,600 young men and women yearly to their Jewish heritage and one another.

Kesher Yehudi is creating connections all over Israel

A Program Designed on Intentionality

Each mechina is connected to an ultra-orthodox community in Israel, and every student is assigned a personal chavruta from that community.

Once a month, the community volunteers visit the mechina and meet face-to-face to study core topics in Judaism. The adopting community also hosts their mechina group for a Shabbaton and for special events around the Jewish holidays.

Our chavrutot engage one another on a profound level. They laugh together, sing, dance, question, search, wonder and grapple. And together, they discover their shared heritage. Even more, they develop deep and enduring friendships.

Sessions of the program are held with great intentionality right up to the final one. In the last meeting, Kesher Yehudi guides each chavruta through a conversation that reflects on the relationship they have built and how they will maintain their friendship beyond the program.

The friendships developed through the program are designed to be sustainable, and 76% of mechina alumni continue learning with their chavrutot on a regular basis.

“I never believed that I could establish a real friendship with an Orthodox “avreich” from such a different background. Within a few short conversations, all barriers disappeared, and we began to communicate as if we’d always known each other.”

Eddie Robertson, 19, Haifa

THE MECHINA PROGRAM

What are we fighting for?

They’re smart, inquisitive and the future leaders of Israel. Without a doubt. But before these elite high school graduates button up their army fatigues, they want to know more. They want to arm themselves with knowledge about their land and perhaps more importantly, about their Jewish heritage.

Col. Gilad Olshtein understood their desire to learn. And incredibly, seven years ago, he invited Kesher Yehudi to create chavruta programs for his three pre-military academies known as Mechinot Nachshon.

The response was overwhelming.

Today, KY is well-known and actively involved in 32 mechinot across Israel, connecting more than 1,200 young men and women every year to their Jewish heritage and to one another.

How it works

Each mechina is connected to an adopting ultra-orthodox community in Israel, and every student is assigned a personal chavruta from that community. Once a month, the community volunteers visit the mechina and meet face-to-face with their chavrutot to study core topics in Judaism. The adopting community also hosts their mechina group for a Shabbaton and for many special events around the Jewish holidays.

For many students, it’s their very first encounter with authentic Jewish text and wisdom.

The Impact

Kesher Yehudi gifts students with a spiritual and intellectual foundation to build upon for the rest of their lives. In fact, 76% of mechina students continue learning with their chavrutot on a regular basis even after the mechina program finishes.

Our chavrutot engage one another on a profound level. They laugh together, sing, dance, question, search, wonder and grapple. And together, they discover their shared heritage. Even more, they develop deep and enduring friendships.

Today, there are 50 non-religious mechinot throughout Israel. Kesher Yehudi provides programming for nearly half of them.

With your help, we can establish programs with the other 26 mechinot to spiritually prepare our young soldiers for army service and empower them to be Israel’s future leaders.

“I never believed that I could establish a real friendship with an Orthodox “avreich” from such a different background. Within a few short conversations, all barriers disappeared, and we began to communicate as if we’d always known each other.”

-Eddie Robertson, 19, Haifa

Thank you so much for the great Shabbos meal, for the endless knowledge you shared with me, and for the inspiring stories…I had so much fun eating and schmoozing with all of you at the table. But more than that, I appreciated the respect you gave me and the way you accepted me as I am.

I would love to come back and stay with you again. You really changed my whole perspective on Orthodox society and the world in general.”

-Assaf, a mechina student

Play Video

Read more about how Kesher Yehudi is leading a revolution to unify the different sectors of Israeli society

Sign up for our newsletter