Strengthening Israeli Society

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Mechinot (Pre-Army Academies)

For Israeli high school graduates, the period before they are drafted into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is a critical time in their development. Our 14 Mechinot promote personal growth and develop leadership skills, helping qualify participants for service in army units that are the best fit for them.

Where these Israeli young adults are placed in the IDF has a profound impact on the trajectory of their lives after the army — and procuring an elite IDF placement is more likely for graduates of pre-army academies. Each Mechinah (pre-army academy) provides Jewish study, coursework, workshops, formal and informal dialogue, trips around Israel, meetings with prominent social activists and IDF representatives, enrichment activities, guidance through army induction, physical fitness training, and a volunteering component.

“I chose to join a Mechinah to expand my general knowledge of Israel and the world around me, and to help me get ready for the army and improve my leadership skills,” shared Eli, 18, a 2019-2020 Mechinah participant. Eli lived and studied in The Jewish Agency’s Ramat Hadassah Youth Village, a boarding school for at-risk youth and is a student in our Na’ale program, which serves youth from Russian-speaking countries who are living in Israel without their parents. “A year of pre-army preparation is a good thing, and exactly what I need to grow and better myself.”

In 2019, Mechinot programs served over 500 young adults in 14 locations around Israel.

Each pre-army program provides Jewish study, workshops, trips around Israel, enrichment activities, physical training, volunteering and more. Our Mechinot programs include Kol Ami: Jewish Peoplehood Academies, which brings together Israeli and global Jews; Alma Preparatory Academy for Female Leadership, which serves young Israeli women; Druze-Jewish Mechinah, which fosters cross-cultural understanding between mixed groups of Jewish and Druze Israelis; and more. Mechinot participants are from all over Israel, from all economic and religious backgrounds.

“Here at the Mechinah, you can find leadership training, preparation for the IDF, and the development of self-identity and Zionism,” said Gilad Shoham, Director of The Jewish Agency’s Kol Ami Mechinah at Kiryat Yearim. “Anybody who leaves the mechina is a thinking person, is aware of their identity, and is a person who wants to make the most of themselves.” Read more about how Mechinah provides participants with a toolbox for their future life.

Mechinot generate significant change for participating young men and women and Israeli society as a whole. Aside from gaining the ability and opportunity to reach their leadership potential, achieve successes in their army roles and solidify their ties to Israel and the Jewish people, these young Israelis often continue to volunteer and act as change agents in their communities.