As the months creep by, we have finally arrived at the final part of the year: Mechina. The last part of the program is a three and a half month beast, and brings new challenges for us chanichim. We are in a whole new environment, meeting totally new people and getting to know each other. We also receive a whole lot more independence and autonomy regarding how the mechina runs, and this affects our day-to-day lives on the Mechina.
The Mechina is partially run by us chanichim (referring to Limmud kids, as well as the other kids from Israel and around the world – think America, Switzerland, Netherlands, Chile) in the form of committees. There are 7 committees: Management, Atmosphere, Tiyulim, Army, Content, Volunteering and PR. Management deals with the organisational needs of the Mechina, Atmosphere creates tochniyot for shabbat and during the week, Tiyulim organises where we go for trips and hikes, and Army plans tochniyot concerning the IDF as well educating us about the army lifestyle. The Content committee chooses the discussions for our weekly debates and general tochniyot, Volunteering deals with the kibbutz and organises what volunteering options are available, and PR promotes and advertises the Mechina to schools for next year’s class.
With so many committees, there is at least 4 or 5 events per day which require different committees’ input. For example, the people cooking and cleaning meals are organised by the Management Committee, and there might be a tochnit from the Atmosphere and Content committees on a given day, with PR taking photos and maintaining an online presence. On Mechina, the feeling of camaraderie and closeness is apparent every day, and making friends and working together with the Israelis and חולניקים is one of my favourite parts of Mechina.
We also have a set of debates at least once a week, which allow us to become more educated about issues pertaining to Israel’s governance, as well as improve our ability to present a viewpoint comprehensively. Another important thing we have on Mechina is מדסים – physical training. The group is split by gender and has a designated personal trainer 2 or 3 times a week. This, along with most things on the Mechina, is one of the activities where you get out as much as you put in, and I personally have loved the designated time to be able to improve my physical fitness, while being around my friends.
A crucial part of Mechina is getting to know and learning to work cohesively with people you have just met. The Limmud kids may have known each other for 8 months already, but most of the Israelis and חילניקים came alone or in groups of 2 or 3, and as a result don’t know everyone well yet and aren’t used to working in a group. For this reason, we have a workshop called סדנה, which uses theatre drama and activities to open up conversations and discussions about how each person is feeling, allowing us to understand how others in the group are feeling, and to learn how to better bond and work with each other.
Mechina’s tiyulim add another element to the group bonding: shared experiences. We’ve been to Eilat, hiked in נס הרים, and navigated our way through the Arava for a week. Sure, we may have been tired, and we weren’t able to shower for 100+ hours, but the collective group’s experience has made us closer. We get to talk and learn about each other during the long hikes, and relax around a campfire or before bed, and I feel that it’s a testament to these shared experiences that we feel so close to the Mechina kids after such a short time. I am nothing but excited to see where we end up at the end of our Mechina period!
Jack Zuckerman, Melbourne, Limmud