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Post-military program for strengthening soldiers who completed their army service.

The Spirit of Israel supports the “Afikim Banegev program which was developed especially to facilitate the soldiers’ transition from their release from army service to civilian life and to help them express their ambitions, identify their aims, implement their plans and realize their raw potential, as independent citizens and as social activists.

For many youth, the period following their release from the army is both exciting and complex: Along with the aspirations for an independent adult life feelings of confusion and uncertainty arise. An abundance of choices, freedom from all compulsory frameworks and a sense that every decision is critical make it difficult for them to map out their course, which to a large extent will determine their way of life in the coming years and even their future professional life. In contrast, there are many young people, especially among those who live in the geographical and social periphery of Israel, who are unaware of all the existing opportunities, don’t have access to the relevant sources of information and even if they did  – they lack the suitable tools to take advantage of them.

The Afikim Banegev program gives the participating youth a chance to become familiarize with the available opportunities and make the most of them. The program was first developed due to a need that arose in the field, from the Jewish Agency’s “Derech Eretz” pre-military preparation program. The Derech Eretz preparation programs focus on youth from the geographical-social periphery, prepares them spiritually and physically for a meaningful army service and helps them acquire the tools                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     for self-fulfillment and social achievement. In the course of the preparatory programs, it became clear that there is a need to continue promoting these youth also after the completion of their army service and help them to aspire, realize their goals and find their place in society, as active citizens and as leaders. It is important to note that Afikim Banegev  is not intended for graduates of the preparatory program only but for all young men and women in the periphery who have the will to advance and play an active part and central role in Israeli society.

The unique model that the program is based on can be implemented in different centers around the country. We believe that the participants start their lives at the end of their army service equipped with the tools that are given them in the program, experience success that will serve them for the rest of their civilian lives, as leaders, activists and contributors to society.

3 main components of the program:

·       Preparation for civilian life, acquisition of life skills and professional planning.

·       Joining their preferred professions, which enables them to support themselves and acquire practical experience in the civilian work force. Thanks to the cooperation of the Isrotel company, students now have positions as regular workers in the chain’s hotels in Mitzpeh Ramon.

·       Intensive studies and activities on an academic level in matters of personal and social identity, Israel, Judaism, democracy and the relationship between them.

 

During the week the students work in their “preferred professions” and twice a week they participate in lectures on the aforementioned core components. Moreover, the students volunteer in the local community and participate in a variety of enrichment workshops to broaden their horizons, ethical learning and creativity.

Preparation for Civilian Life and Professional Planning

The students participate in a wealth of workshops and courses that are intended for them to obtain the required skills and qualifications for optimal acclimatization in civilian life: The “Transition from the Army to Civilian Life” workshop, Professional Planning course, Preparation for Employment workshop, Financial Management workshop, Personal Management workshop, Interpersonal Communications workshop, the Strengthening Learning Abilities and Critical Thinking workshop and the “Connecting with Myself” workshop.

Israel, Judaism and Democracy – Complex Questions of Identification

This component also includes workshops and enrichment meetings that are intended to develop the students’ critical thinking, connect them with the current discourse in Israeli society and acquire for them the tools to cope with the complex questions of personal and social identity. In the course of the meetings, the students get to know the main personages and key characters in the field and make meaningful connections with them.

 

Preferred Professions

An essential part of the program is the integration of students in their preferred professional fields, enabling them to support themselves independently, save and acquire vital, practical business experience in the civilian employment market.

Partnership with Isrotel

In the framework of the partnership that was formed with Isrotel hotels, the students are employed the chain’s hotels in Mitzpeh Ramon. They are required to meet the terms of acceptance for employment, like all the other employees, and are integrated in Isrotel’s living quarters for its workforce. Upon joining the program, the students are required to pay a “sincerity” fee of NIS 200. In the period of their employment, they make a minimum wage and as workers in the hotel within the “preferred profession” domain they are entitled to a one-time grant from the National Insurance Institute with the conclusion of the program. In the course of their work, the youth learn hotel management techniques and employer-worker relations, and they can start using the tools that they acquire.

For the purpose of implementing the program at other centers in Israel, we need more partners from the business community that are interested in contributing to the future generation and benefit young quality manpower. For more details, please contact the Spirit of Israel offices by phone: 03-7628490 or by email: info@spiritofisrael.org.il.