Gap-Year leadership programs imbue marginalized young men and women from immigrant backgrounds with a sense of belonging and social responsibility.

Congratulations to the recent graduates of the Village Way’s gap-year leadership programs (Mechina in Hebrew) for young immigrant men and women. Graduates will now serve in Israel’s military with opportunities to utilize new leadership and life skills learned during their 10 months of rigorous preparation.

The Mechinot (plural) are managed under the auspices of Village Way Educational Initiatives. The majority of participants in both the men’s and women’s programs are immigrants or children of immigrants from mainly Ethiopia or the former Soviet Union. Participants are from cities and towns all around Israel, and all are from low socio-economic backgrounds.

IsraElite Gap-Year Leadership Program Empowers Young Women to Succeed

Village Way Educational Initiatives and its IsraElite women’s mechina are grateful to the Max M. & IsraElite graduatesMarjorie S. Fisher Foundation of Detroit, Michigan, for becoming a major supporter of this important program. IsraElite brings young women from around Israel to the northern development town of Migdal Haemek, where they live, learn, and volunteer together in order to overcome cultural and societal obstacles to success in the military and, later, in civilian life. (Photo right: 2018 IsraElite graduates)

This year, 26 young woman graduated from IsraElite. During the program, participants develop a deep belief in their abilities and embrace hope and determination to succeed. Components of the women’s program includes:

  • Volunteer opportunities in the local community.
  • Workshops on leadership skills, financial management, public speaking and healthy relationships.
  • Seminars about Israel history.
  • Preparation for life in the military (physical training, program opportunities).

We are so proud of our IsraElite graduates as they begin their next steps. So far, graduates will serve as squad leaders for recruits; members of a Border Police combat unit, an infantry instructor, members in the coed Bardalas infantry unit, and another graduate will serve as a Non-Commissioned Officer of Personal Affairs. More enlistment assignments are forthcoming.

Men’s Mechina Strengthens Mind, Body and Soul

Congratulations to the 47 graduates of the men’s mechina.  The entire graduation program was organized by the young men and included a festive dinner, speeches, musical performances and skits. (Photo left: Men’s mechina graduates.)

Participants demonstrated how much they had truly learned during the 10 month gap-year program which included classes in public speaking skills, organization and leadership.

After the graduation ceremony, many parents told staff members of their surprise at how their son had changed or how far they had developed as young men. One mother remarked how her son “in just this one year made an enormous leap, being more confident of himself.”

After 10 months of intensive preparation, graduates will enter military service with the Israel Defense Forces. We are proud to report that 80 percent of graduates are going into combat units such as the Golani, Givati, and Nahal Brigades, paratrooper units and combat engineering corps.

Good luck to everyone as they begin this exciting and challenging time in their lives. Click here to learn more about the Village Way’s Gap Year Leadership Programs.

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