Each year, approximately 1,500 Israeli high school graduates choose to delay their army service and dedicate a full year—without compensation—to social activism. Through various organizations and movements that sponsor placements throughout the country, these young people work with disenfranchised children and at-risk youth in Israel’s social and geographic periphery.
Within the context of this intense year of national service, AVI CHAI seeks to develop a platform for significant Jewish study to encourage the volunteers to explore and shape their Jewish-Israeli identity. AVI CHAI is currently implementing three pilot programs, each reflecting a different model, that include hundreds of sh’nat sherut volunteers. Our goal is to evaluate the effectiveness of each model so that within a few years—in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and other partners, such as the Jewish Agency—every national service volunteer will participate in significant Jewish study and exploration.
• The Kibbutz Movement—As part of this pilot program, once every two weeks, a facilitator from an organization specializing in the teaching of Jewish content travels to a group of young volunteers and facilitates a three-hour study session on topics related to Jewish identity. Based on a syllabus developed by the organization together with representatives of the kibbutz movement, the study takes place at the volunteer sites—even those distantly located. This model was developed to encourage the kibbutz movement leaders—who oversee the largest sponsoring organization of sh’nat sherut volunteers each year—to develop a philosophy centered on the Jewish identity of their constituents. In the coming years, we hope to increase the number of volunteers and continue to test the model.
• The Shomer Hatza’ir Youth Movement—This program is conducted by youth-movement alumni, who mentor the volunteers throughout the year. The expectation is that the current volunteers will eventually become alumni and will then mentor the next generation— thereby enabling the values learned now to become deeply embedded within the movement over time. In the coming years, we intend to review the lessons from the pilot and to enhance, expand, and deepen the study.
• The “ShinShinui” Program—This model, developed in partnership with the Jewish Agency, brings together volunteers who work with different organizations in the same geographic area to meet and study on a bimonthly basis. These heterogeneous groups provide an opportunity for a significant learning experience facilitated by a representative of an organization specializing in Jewish content. The programs comprise study centers in various parts of the country. As the programmatic model is developed and refined, we expect the number of participants to increase from year to year.
For more information:
Address: Sh'nat Sherut, AVI CHAI Israel, 44 King George Street, Jerusalem 9426216
Telephone: 02 621-5330
Fax: 02 621-5331