Mechinot, a program of The Jewish Agency for Israel, are Pre-Army Academies that provide an opportunity for Israeli high-school graduates to live, work, and take part in leadership training before they enter the armed service.
In Israel, where serving in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) is mandatory for all citizens over the age of 18, a person's army position can set their trajectory for life—some equate it to the difference between choosing a local college and an Ivy League university in America. Mechinot help recent high-school graduates prepare for their service with opportunities for Jewish study, volunteering, skill-building, and personal development in the interim between ending school and beginning service in the IDF.
The goal is to help these young people generate the unique mix of self-reliance and sense of communal responsibility that will help them thrive mentally and emotionally in whatever challenges they face next. There are several Mechinot clusters for specialized groups, including ones for young women, ultra-Orthodox men who choose to enlist, as well as for cross-cultural groups like Jews and Christians or Jewish and Arab-speaking Israelis.
A post-high school service learning program that brings together Israelis and Jewish young adults from around the world so they can learn and work together.
A values-driven curriculum that inspires young Israelis with a love for the land and paves the way for more meaningful service in the IDF.
Educational programs that develop young leadership and promote social engagement between youth from varying sectors of society in order to help prepare for the IDF.
Serving young women from all over Israel, this program adds in a gender studies course and meetings with influential Israeli women.