Ma'ahal V'Migdal Program
Planting Our Roots in the Negev
>>An agricultural work-study program rejuvenating struggling communities with the vibrant spirit of the younger generation of Jewish pioneers.3 posts in kibbutzim bordering the Gaza Strip | 7-12 month agricultural program | 20-25 year-old participants | 80 participants annually | 180 alumnae in our graduate program | Program helped double members living at participating kibbutzim
Ma'ahalV'Migdal is a multi-faceted program that helps create the next generation of Jewish agriculturalists and inspiring these young adults to establish their lives in the Negev. This seven-month program trains and employs discharged soldiers in the agriculture sector at a decisive time in their lives, introducing them to the traditional work of the land while bolstering struggling kibbutzim and communities in the periphery. Participants are employed by farmers in peripheral areas, working the fields and farms of impoverished kibbutzim and communities in the Negev. They learn essential agricultural skills by day and watch over the farms and open fields by night, substantially aiding in the development and safeguarding of the land. Twice weekly, these young adults study in a Beit Midrash style, learning about the ethos of Zionism and the "Halutzim," or early pioneers and hearing from leading lecturers on a range of topics from civics and culture to relationships and politics. Participants also play a central role in cultivating their new communities through volunteer activities: mentoring children, lending a hand to lone farmers, and bringing companionship and food to disadvantaged families on Shabbat and Jewish holidays. The program reunites its 180-plus graduates via educational gatherings and volunteer opportunities to ensure their deep experience carries on with them. Participants garner key Zionist values from the program: they gain an appreciation for hard work and its bearings through the difficult physical labor of farming while palpably contributing to the farms and kibbutzim. They become cognizant of their role and responsibility in contributing to the greater good of the community through their volunteer work. Indeed, many participants choose to join the full 12-month program, receiving a three-year university scholarship with the commitment of living in the Negev during this period. "I began the program one person and left as a different person. I learned about independence, generosity, hard work, perseverance, being a better person, understanding we are here for something bigger than ourselves and at the most difficult of times, reminding myself why I chose this path and why I am here. When you hear the farmer express his appreciation for your work, it gives you the most positive sensation - you feel you are a Zionist, which is why you came and it's worth it all. To be part of the kibbutz community, to help them with whatever they ask, and sometimes more, to be hugged by the kids running through the kibbutz, is the most incredible feeling." – Chen Danino, Ma'ahalV'Migdal program participant Ma'ahalV'Migdal has been uniquely successful at integrating these young men and women into Israel's agricultural industry, many joining the communities where they served. In fact, the number of members at participating kibbutzim has doubled since the program began in 2012, rejuvenating struggling communities in the Negev with the vibrant spirit of the younger generation of Jewish agriculturalists.