A Jewish Leadership Program for Post-Army Israelis at Hannaton
Founded in the 1990’s by the Masorti (Conservative) Movement as a life and learning hub in the Galilee, the Hannaton Educational Center and Leadership Institute was reconstituted in 2009, together with Kibbutz Hannaton, now a community of 75 families. Today, the Center is a vibrant educational institution serving thousands of people each year with a vital mission that actively promotes pluralism, democratic values, and leadership initiatives for young Israelis and Jews from around the world and across the religious spectrum.
Tiferet brings post-army Israelis to Hannaton to study Jewish and Zionist texts, develop their identities, live together as a group and connect more closely to the land of Israel through agricultural work. Other programs throughout Israel focus on learning or leadership or community. They are either orthodox or have no religious element at all. Tiferet is the only post-army agricultural initiative open to both men and women that incorporates serious Jewish studies, a leadership training component through community service and exposure to a pluralistic living and learning environment.
Tiferet offers young people a unique opportunity for personal and Zionist fulfillment that combines agriculture, learning, communal living and community involvement. Tiferet gives young Israelis a unique chance to immerse themselves in Jewish study, experience leadership through community building and service and contribute to the vital agricultural needs of the country.
Tiferet meets a growing need among young Israelis to find stronger connections to their Jewish and Israeli identities through learning and community service. Post-army Israelis travel abroad in droves. In 2013, estimates were that as much as one third of the 75,000 discharged soldiers left Israel for destinations like South America and India. For many, the freedom of world travel is a way to divorce themselves from the rules and rigidity of two, three or even four years in the army. For others, it is a personal search for meaning. But in recent years, more Israelis are choosing to stay in Israel, travel, study and connect with their Jewish identities and find meaning at home.
In the last decade, greater numbers of young Israelis have returned to farming and agriculture. This is partially as a result of special monetary grants from the government to Israelis who choose to work in this field. In addition to their monthly salaries, young adults who work a full six months in agriculture receive a grant of close to 10,000 NIS or $2,600. There is also a growing trend and increased excitement among young Israelis to work in agriculture, viewing it as a meaningful and value-based enterprise, connecting them to the land and the history of Israel. At the same time, many young Israelis are beginning to understand the importance of community, on both a local and national level. Young Israelis seek to be involved in the community in which they live and gain a stronger connection to the state and to the land. In the last few years alone, agricultural programs have developed around the country. Recognizing this need, in the last few years, new programs have developed throughout Israel that provide more than just an opportunity for physical work and giving participants a chance to build community while working the land.
Alongside the desire of young people to be modern-day pioneers, Israel is experiencing a demographic change and a move toward the periphery of the country, particularly the Galilee and the Negev. We understand that these outlying areas need quality young people who will help realize a new Zionist dream. Dreamers and doers are needed in all areas – education, agriculture, industry and more. The Jezreel Valley, located in the north of Israel, holds a special place in the Zionist ethos. Agriculture and Jewish settlement – Nahalal for example, one of the first moshavim in the north – are the foundations of life in the Jezreel Valley, making it an ideal location for this program.
Tiferet – The Program
With more than eight years of programming in experiential Jewish education, the Hannaton Educational Center is uniquely positioned to offer a program that combines Jewish learning, agricultural work, leadership, and community involvement. Tiferet includes up to 60 young Israelis each year who recently completed their army service and will live at the Hannaton Educational Center for a period of seven months, work in nearby farms in the Jezreel Valley, study Jewish texts and travel in Israel.
Tiferet – Guiding Values
- Work – Daily work on farms in the Jezreel Valley (six days/week)
- Study – Ongoing educational opportunities and two weekly learning sessions on topics such as economics, literature, Zionism, history, agriculture and more. One Shabbat each month participants remain at Hannaton for learning and getting to know the larger Hannaton community.
- The Group – The group lives independently, organizing their budget, meals and entertainment with the guidance of the educational staff. One evening a week is set aside for group building.
- Community – Tiferet participants integrate into the Kibbutz Hannaton community through their host families, volunteer work and daily interactions around Hannaton.
Participants are taught by Ayal Beer, Tiferet Program Coordinator, who is an experienced educator and tour guide and Hannaton’s educational staff. Classes and workshops offer participants new meaning in their work, help connect them to the land of Israel and encourage them to find their place in the community of Israel. Held in an egalitarian setting, the program encourages participants to explore their Jewish identities in facilitated conversations with peers from across the religious spectrum and promotes a pluralistic approach to Jewish communal life. Through their educational and community work in the lower Galilee, participants are mentored as future leaders and encouraged to take leadership roles in work and community activities.
- Establishment and implementation of an educational curriculum focused on Zionism, Jewish identity, and a pluralistic Israeli society.
- Offering support to farmers and others in the agriculture field in the Jezreel Valley.
- Instilling in post-army Israelis a commitment to Jewish community and the strengthening of a pluralistic and democratic Israeli society that will serve as a foundation for their future life choices.
- Encouraging Israelis to move to the more outlying areas of the country and specifically, the Galilee, to strengthen existing communities and to begin setting up new ones.
Tiferet is aimed at Israelis between the ages of 22 and 26, who have completed their army service in the last 2 years and are seeking meaningful work combined with a learning program based in a wider community setting. A limited number of Jewish participants from other countries are also eligible to join the program.
 “Out of Israel, Into the World”, Forbes Asia, December 19 2013
 According to the Israeli Bureau of Statistics, there were approximately 41,600 Israelis working in agriculture; by 2014, that number had increased to over 48,000.
 In 2005, the Israeli government set up the Ministry for the Development of the Negev and Galilee to encourage settlement in these regions.