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Sunday, 10 February 2008

Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism Youth Projects

Project Mechina
The IMPJ Mechina Project is a post-high school, pre-military year
dedicated to study and preparations toward compulsory service in the IDF.
In September 2003, the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism (IMPJ)
launched its "Project Mechina". In Israel today there are over 30
different Mechina projects, each offering a different perspective and
emphasis regarding issues and values studied. The IMPJ Mechina offers
young Israelis the opportunity to intensively study their Jewish
heritage and Israeli identity. The participants put Jewish values into
practice by working in community service projects. We believe that
leadership training, the social contribution and the intense experience
of living in a close community with program members will endow these
young people with the skills and commitment to become future leaders in
the Progressive Jewish community in Israel. This year, Project Mechina
received official recognition from the Ministry of Defense, allowing
participants to defer their military service for a year, and opening up
the program to a much greater number of students.
All participants will subsequently serve in the Israel Defense Forces
following the Mechina year. The interpersonal and leadership skills
developed during the year will enhance the participants' ability to
perform their military service in a manner that is purposeful, patriotic
an The program's location in the Lev-Yaffo neighborhood in Jaffa plays a
significant part in shaping the character and quality of the Mechina
experience. The Mechina is based in a diverse neighborhood, whose
residents include Jews from an extremely wide range of religious and
ethnic backgrounds, as well as Muslim and Christian Arabs and migrant
laborers from around the world. Placing the Mechina in Jaffa serves one
of the fundamental pillars of the IMPJ: working in a poor urban area and
aiding people in need through a locally based IMPJ community.

Young Adults
The Young Adult Leadership Forum (YALF) is a framework for young adults
in the 20-30 age range (particularly students in higher education)
interested in exploring and developing a pluralistic Jewish way of life.
Operating as part of the IMPJ's Communities Department, YALF offers
activities in diverse fields – study, experience, festival and memorial
events, social and public involvement and dialogue activities.
Participants are encouraged to examine issues relating to their Jewish
and Israeli identity through exposure to diverse opinions, approaches
and experiences.
YALF offers young Israelis a fresh perspective both on the options open
to them in developing their own identity and way of life, and on public
issues such as the relations between religion and state. Dialogue and
study activities promote an understanding of the complexity of Israeli
reality, helping to overcome stereotypical attitudes. YALF fosters a
sense of commitment to the Jewish People as a whole, and to the State of
Israel, in a manner and from a perspective that can appeal to young
liberal Israelis.
YALF runs activities in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Rishon Lezion and Haifa,
based around university campuses and IMPJ congregations in these cities.
YALF offers diverse programs and activities at the different centers,
including:
• Regular programs: Study sessions; creative and musical Kabbalat
Shabbat programs, etc.; public activities (e.g. demonstrations in favor
of pluralism). These programs take place throughout the year.
• Festival programs: YALF develops innovative ceremonies and programs
– Seder Tu Bishvat, workshops, tours, etc. relating to the Jewish
festivals and memorial days. The approach is to reveal aspects of the
Hebrew calendar that relate to the participants' lives.
• Batei Midrash: ongoing study series around a particular theme. The
participants study with a regular counselor; guest lecturers are also
invited.
• Short-term study programs: Mini-series of 3 or 4 study sessions on
a common theme, generally relating to an aspect of modern Israeli society.
• Dialogue programs: Encounters with various groups in Israeli
society: other streams of Judaism; Israeli Arabs; "Green" organizations;
the lesbian and gay community and others.

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