Mechinot: post High-School service learning | The Jewish AgencyMechinot

Mechinot (Pre-Army Leadership Academies)

Post-High School Service Learning

The Jewish Agency’s Mechinot provide Israeli high school graduates with opportunities for leadership training before they enter the IDF. Participants live, work, and study together in small groups. Each pre-army program 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.

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.

Mechinot support youth from Israel’s most disadvantaged communities, including Muslims, Christians, new immigrants, Ethiopians, ultra-Orthodox, Bedouin, and at-risk young women. These young people are Israel’s best hope for reversing trends of alienation and underachievement in underserved communities. Each of our unique Mechinah programs hosts cohorts of around 35 participants. Below is a selection of some of our Mechinah programs:


Kol Ami: A.K.A. the Jewish Peoplehood Leadership Academy, Kol Ami is a post-high school immersive service-learning program in Israel that brings together Jewish young adults from around the world with their Israeli peers; activities are conducted in English. As they form friendships and share dialogue, participants learn about each other’s Jewish communities and cultures. Each participant initiates a community-building project in either Israel or in their countries of origin when they return.

Derech Eretz: 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.

Aharai! B’ir: 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.

Alma: An all-female Mechinah in Jerusalem for women at-risk, which emphasizes self-confidence and leadership skills, this program adds in a gender studies course and meetings with influential Israeli women.

Be’er Sheva: an urban Mechinah located in the Negev.

Or Yehuda: A Mechinah that uses cinematography and production as a means of education, personal expression, and connection.

Nitzana: Gives participants the opportunity to initiate social activist projects on sustainability, solar energy, and agriculture.

Yerucham: Focuses on Jewish tradition and includes volunteering in schools, building community gardens, and planning city-wide events.

Kineret: A specialized Mechinah in which Jews and Christian Arabs live, train, and grow together, promoting coexistence, collaboration, and personal development.

Walking the Distance: A new Mechinah for acutely disadvantaged women who have histories of criminal behavior, substance abuse, trauma, and more. The Mechinah is located in Kibbutz Sarid in northern Israel and emphasizes trauma recovery, coping mechanisms, and overcoming challenges through teamwork, skill-building, therapeutic exercises, and outdoor education. The program aims to increase participants’ self-confidence and self-esteem.

Harduf: A Mechinah where Jews and Arabs study and volunteer together, focusing on individual development and mutual understanding and cooperation.

Karmiel: A Mechinah where new immigrants study alongside their native-born Israeli peers. The curriculum focuses on Jewish cultural diversity, national identity, and civic engagement.