Nahal Oz Leadership Programme
Located just 800 metres from the Gaza border, the residents of Kibbutz Nahal Oz have sadly become accustomed to living with the constant threat of terror. However, it was during the most recent conflict with Gaza – Operation Protective Edge – that the very existence of the kibbutz came under threat.
Nahal Oz suffered terrible damage during Operation Protective Edge. Homes and buildings were ruined, the community was displaced, people were injured and, tragically, a four year old child, Daniel Tragerman, lost his life.
The repercussions were immediate and devastating: 17 families decided to leave the kibbutz, taking with them 41 children. Only 70 children under the age of 18 remained. The very future of the kibbutz was at stake.
Hearing of the situation, a group of young pioneering Israelis led by Nimrod Golan Palmach decided to do something about it. The Nahal Oz Pre Army Programme (“Mechina” in Hebrew) was born.
Based at Nahal Oz, the programme gives an opportunity for 35 students to take a year out before they start the army to learn about themselves, the land and their place within Jewish history. More importantly, it gives these young people the opportunity to volunteer and give back to a place that needs moral, physical and mental support after the traumatic events of the last Gaza war.
The participants of the Mechina have come to play an integral part in the kibbutz, be it volunteering with the elderly; doing educational activities for the children; joining the kibbutz for events and Jewish festivals or generally bolstering the spirits of the kibbutz as a whole.
This influx of 35 young, Zionistic and idealistic youth has brought about a profound change in the kibbutz. Nahal Oz is alive with music and laughter once again. Since the inception of the mechina in 2014, 12 new families have joined Kibbutz Nahal Oz.
The success of the Mechina would not have been possible without the support of JNF UK which was instrumental in helping establish it by renovating and equipping dormitories, kitchens, offices and classrooms to accommodate the programme at the Kibbutz.