IDF and the Jerusalem College of Technology (Machon Lev) have teamed up to create the first pre-army military academy (mechina) for the haredi community.
There are 16 students in the inaugural class at Yeshivat Derech Haim, located in the Bayit Vegan neighbourhood of Jerusalem. Students will spend two years involved in full-time yeshiva study, followed by military service. During the initial period, students will also participate in a series of exercises to prepare physically and mentally for service in the IDF.
In contrast to the hesder program preferred by the religious-Zionist community preparation for the army, Derech Haim students will complete three years of compulsory military service. The five-year hesder program requires students to commit to three years of Torah study and two years of army service.
Notably, most of the students in the program hail from American background. Most either moved to Israel as children or are the children of immigrants. A majority, but not all, studied in haredi schools that award high school diplomas.
“We see ourselves as a bridge to allow men from the haredi world who want something different to learn Torah and serve the country at the same time,” American-born Rabbi Karmi Gross, the founder of the initiative, told Israel National News.
“We believe there are two ideals; one is sitting and studying Torah and the other is working and learning whenever you can, and both of these are desirable. Showing the beauty of Torah is a sanctification of God’s name and for haredim to go out and contribute towards society can help achieve this,” Gross said.