It’s time for summer reunions here at Hannaton, with alumni of our programs returning for a second time around and giving back to the place that meant so much to them. This summer, nearly every one of our educational programs is being led with the support of former Hannaton program participants.
Ethel and Dafna attended the Hebrew summer ulpan for Turkish students when it first opened in 2012. They loved being out in the countryside, and while they were at Hannaton, they made friends with other teenagers in the community. “I was really excited to come back again as a counselor” said Dafna “because I have so many good memories of Hannaton”. She and Ethel and a third friend Linzi, helped run activities for the 8th grade participants this summer. Ethel recalls that “the counselors were very important to us. And now I get to be that person”. Linzi heard about the ulpan and Hannaton for years and couldn’t wait to be a part of it. “Coming to Israel on a program like this is an experience every young person should have, to live without their families and to learn to be responsible for themselves” says Linzi. All three young women plan to come back to Israel when they graduate high school to attend university and perhaps stay for good.
Mechina Graduates Return
We are thrilled to have so many of our mechina graduates back – for the summer and for the coming year. Mordy, who taught Hebrew in the summer ulpan, spent the last year and a half here at Hannaton – first on the Mitzpeh BaGalil gap year program and then in the Mechina. For him, Hannaton is really like home, especially since Mordy’s family lives in New Zealand. After spending four years living in Zichron Yaakov as a child, Mordy says he always planned to come back and looked into the options during his last year of high school. “I wanted to have a period to readjust to Israel and Rabbi Elisha Wolfin, my rabbi back at the Veahavta congregation in Zichron, recommended Hannaton. The Mitzpeh BaGalil gap year program was a good challenge for me, but afterwards I still felt I needed something that would help me feel like an insider, more Israeli, and give me a deeper understanding of issues in Israel and my role in those issues” says Mordy.
It was a natural step for Mordy to attend the Hannaton Mechina the next year. “I looked at other mechinot, but I didn’t seriously consider any of them. Hannaton was a perfect fit for me. I liked how welcoming the kibbutz community was, the emphasis at the Mechina on accessibility and inclusiveness, all things I did not have in my life in New Zealand. I also really liked the leadership of the Mechina, Itai and Yoav and the Mechina students I met that year”.
The Mechina offered Mordy even greater challenges, helping him grow and develop into a more independent person with drive and initiative and the tools to take charge. “I would never have considered coming to teach Hebrew before my year in Mechina. But the Mechina taught me that I can get along with all kinds of people, work as part of a group and make demands on myself that beforehand I thought impossible. For my volunteer service, I chose to teach Hebrew to elementary school kids in Kfar Manda, the nearby Moslem village. That was a challenge I took on for myself. After that, it was easy to say yes to teaching Hebrew in the summer ulpan”.
Zimri came on aliyah with her family ten years ago, when she was nine years old and grew up in the Golan and Zichron Yaakov. She came to the Hannaton mechina because she liked the atmosphere of pluralism and warmth she felt when she visited and because of Itai, the director of the Mechina. “I decided to come to Hannaton this summer because some of my other friends from mechina were also coming and I thought it would be great to teach the Turkish children and to get more professional teaching experience. By working at Hannaton, a place I love and where I feel at home, I can focus on the job and not on stressing out”.
In September, two other graduates of the Hannaton Mechina, Ophir (class of 2014) and Noga (class of 2015) will be returning as counselors. When asked why she wants to come back to Hannaton, Noga said: “How can I not return to Hannaton?! How can I not come back to the kibbutz, to these wonderful people. I miss the meaningfulness and purity of the work being done at Hannaton, and now I have the chance to do that with Itai and Yoav. I’m really proud to return to this very special place. And I’m very excited to be giving back and to work at the mechina and to be in such an embracing community”. Ophir, who grew up on a secular kibbutz south of Beer Sheva, decided to come back to work at the Mechina because she knows personally just how significant an experience Hannaton offers. “This is a great way for me to close the circle, this time returning as someone giving back, and in that way, Hannaton will have an even bigger place in my life”.