Each year, Yemin Orde’s Gap Year Leadership Program for Men or Mechina (in Hebrew) accepts approximately 60 young immigrants mainly from Ethiopia and the former Soviet Union who are from Israel’s underserved communities. The Mechina offers physical training and academic programs designed to enhance their leadership skills in preparation for meaningful military service and a productive civilian life.
The young men who enroll in Yemin Orde’s Mechina begin each gap year at the Dan River where they walk upstream – against the flow – as a metaphor to the challenges and rigor of the year ahead. This activity is followed by a week of “group bonding” in Kibbutz Kfar Blum in the Upper Galilee.
From the first day they arrive at the Mechina until they walk onto the stage for the graduation ceremony, the Mechina’s recruits work day and night, guided by the Mechina staff, to find their inner strengths and prepare themselves for leadership roles in the future.
The men’s gap year leadership program now has over 500 graduates, many of whom are serving in elite units or in command positions in their national service, while others are already studying in university or have entered the professional world. The program has proven, year after year, that in the right atmosphere and with proper encouragement, at-risk youth can fulfill their potential and grow into Israel’s leaders of tomorrow.
Components of the Men’s Mechina:
- Preparation for military service: navigation and orienteering skills, rigorous physical training, first aid lessons, battle lore and traditions of the IDF.
- Week-long seminars, including a survival course, a Paratroop Regiment basic-training camp and hikes and field trips focusing on the history and geography of the Land of Israel, Jewish heritage and culture.
- Life skills and leadership workshops, including managing personal finances, developing healthy interpersonal relationships, public speaking, and decision making.
- Weekly volunteering in the Hatzor community, community involvement and a commitment to Tikkun Olam.
- Graduate support and follow-up during and after military service.
The Men’s Mechina has been successful both in terms of changing the participants’ goals for their army service and in changing the Israel
Defense Forces’s (IDF) attitude towards immigrants.
- 90% of graduates serve in IDF combat units.
- 30% of graduates served in IDF command positions.
- 7% have served as IDF officers.
Following their army service, many graduates have proceeded to higher education and are well integrated in Israeli society; they are on par with their Israeli-born peers.
The new Men’s Mechina complex was completed in January 2013, which provided a modern facility for learning, living and training the recruits. Read about the Mechina’s new home and see photos of the completed building.
Learn more about the Women’s Mechina or IsraElite.