Participants in the Young Women’s IsraElite Gap Year Leadership Program (Mechina in Hebrew) spent one week touring Jerusalem and exploring and learning about that ancient city.
Many core elements of the Village Way methodology are integrated into this activity including “Anchors in the Past” (reinforcing cultural identity) and “Anchors in the Future” (teaching life skills such as research and public speaking). The Women’s Mechina is the only such gap-year program that is specifically designed for young women who are immigrants or children of immigrants, mainly from Ethiopia or the former Soviet Union.
Each participant was responsible for being the “tour guide” for a different portion of the trip. The women practiced for months speaking in front of their peers with special presentations and discussions about their new area of expertise. They used this experience and the feedback they received to research, prepare and take responsibility for their portion of the Jerusalem trip and tour.
The Jerusalem trip included a visit to the Israeli Museum, the Old City, mini Israel exhibit and the Western Wall or Kotel. The group was greatly energized by their visit to Jerusalem and many said they wanted to bring their families to the city and show them all they had seen and learned.
The trip to Jerusalem was a wonderful integration of so many of the Village Way core values including: “Anchors in the Past” (communal history); “Anchors in the Future” (valuable life skills such as public speaking and research); “Sky” (communal values, national belonging, finding meaning in tradition); “Tikkun HaLev” (mending the heart through success in academic and extracurricular activities).
IsraElite Leadership Program
The IsraElite Women’s Leadership Program for Immigrant Youth was established in 2013 to empower young women from the margins of Israeli society with the tools necessary to rise to leadership positions, in their mandatory national volunteer or military service and beyond. The intensive 10-month program brings participants from around the country to the northern development town of Migdal Haemek, where they live, learn, and volunteer together.
The Women’s Mechina provides a rare opportunity for participants to focus on their personal development, their place in Israeli society and their opportunities for their future.