Words that Close Ranks, Hanuka – December 2020
In September, we held our annual event, to mark Closing Ranks' 5th anniversary. We have designated 2020 as the year dedicate to reinforcing the connection between the young, mentors and partners, to create a strong community open to an exchange of information, the discovery of talent and mutual help between our members. We insisted to hold the meeting between the first and second lockdown, limiting its scope to the organization team and mentees only, some of whom helped with the planning and execution.
We started the day with a drumming workshop led by Michal and Omri. The meeting continued with acquaintance in smaller groups, had a tasty refreshment, and concluded with the fascinating talk of Mor Sapir, an inspiring mountain climber.
We filled batteries after a successful, joyful, intriguing and energizing get together.
Our online corner
Who has information about scholarships for immigrants from the FSU? Is there anyone who would like to work at the Safari? Someone is looking for a record player, and another has a kitten to give for adpotion… Meet us on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/closingrankscommunity
The Association’s young members, mentors and partners are welcome to join the Closing Ranks Community Page on Facebook to grow closer together across Israel, comment and exchange information on scholarships, job offers, hand-me-downs, events, and more.
The sixth is already on its way
The fifth mentor training class has ended. Heartfelt thanks to the skilled moderators who saw us through the class so sensitively and professionally: Rachel Sharvit, Rachel Weinstein, Timna Smoly, Varda Rapaport, Vered Levy, and Amit Sarig.
A farewell Zoom meeting with chair Doron Almog will take place on Wednesday, December 23, from 18:30-19:30.
The sixth class with 120 volunteers who joined us over the past three months started training on Zoom. We divided the volunteers into 11 groups according to people’s addresses to facilitate the introduction and face-to-face meetings down the road.
As of January 2021, the group meetings will take place in Ashkelon, Beer Sheba, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Beit Herut, Yokneam, Haifa, Kinneret, Shimshit, and Carmiel.
To date, the Association has mentored over 517 young people with over 650 mentors.
Staring a project in Yeruham
Eliram Elimelech, our deputy director-general, and Hadar Yizrael, our mentees & volunteer coordinators in the south, met with Tal Ohana, the mayor of Yeruham.
Eliram: “I first got to know Tal at the Mandel Foundation. It didn’t take me long to realize what an exceptional personality she has!
Tal is a born leader, charismatic, genuine, and humble. But what made the strongest impression on me is her sincere, uncompromising love for the citizens of the town where she grew up. Ohana is a brilliant woman, a humanist with a vast soul, and a deeply-ingrained social philosophy, which she combines with meaningful action.
I would like to quote Miki Nevo, my teacher at the Mandel Foundation because his acquaintance with Tal dates back even longer: ‘I remember saying to myself Tal is the mayor I would like to have for myself and my children. She is the kind of leader we need in Israel. I hope the face of Israel, which became contorted in recent years, will regain their appearance and be like Tal’s.’
Mayor Ohana quickly grasped the huge power of Closing Ranks and the powerful momentum which we can give the young people of Yeruham by working together. She immediately set down to draft a plan that would suit the young of Yeruham, both those who live there now and those who had left.”
Migdal Insurance Company
We have entered a unique collaboration with Migdal Insurance with the help of Amos Megides, a mentor at Closing Ranks and a pension consultant who helps us voluntarily.
Migdal, the safer option
Together with Eyal Yadin, an attorney and head of business development and distribution, Amos made us aware of the scarcity of Amharic speaking pension consultants. This led to a pilot that will train several young people from Closing Ranks by Migdal as pension consultants. The training is covered entirely by Migdal and includes a safe employment horizon. The training program is 18-24 months long.
Anat Ofri, Migdal Insurance’s head of social affairs and volunteering, is in charge of the project. She collaborates with Ronen Nachmias, who heads the Orin Spelter School of Insurance Agents. Our deputy general director, Eliram, accompanied the first four young people chosen to start the training to their introductory meeting at Migdal Insurance.
Building a future with “Atidim”
After 20 years in operation, the Atidim Program has substantially impacted the IDF, numerous individuals and Israel's economy. Our ties with Atidim were initiated by Zeev Hayut, who chaired the non-profit organization for a long time. He helped connect some of our mentees with the program.
Yoav Maoz, Atidim’s current Director-General, Naomi Re’em Tarshish, the head of "Atidim to the Industry", and Lotem Kopelis, head of Atidim’s alumni organization collaborated with Hadar Yizrael, our southern coordinator and students at the municipal cadet program – to expand our relationship.
Atidim targets students 18-30 years old, from a lower socioeconomic background, mostly from peripheral Israel who were admitted to academic programs (40% at the Technion, 25% at Ben Gurion University, and the balance at Bar Ilan University and various colleges).
The program offers several tracks: for high school students, training for outstanding students who use thrie profession in the IDF (Atuda), programming and cyber studies for combat soldiers who completed their services, and engineering and computer science studies for lone soldiers.
A central theme of the program includes helping young people find employment in their respective areas during and by completion of their studies. The placement rate in year 2 is 50%, 75% in year 3, and 90% in the 4th year of studies.
Moshe Worko, one of Closing Ranks’ mentees and an alumnus of the municipal administration cadet program, was named as an assistant to the Mayor of Kiryat Shmona!
Atidim boasts over 7,000 alumni who graduated over the past 20 years. The alumni organization seeks to involve the alumni in mentoring the next classes of the program. We regard this common denominator as a great opportunity to collaborate.
The pilot recently launched will support the Atidim Alumni mentoring program. We will share our know-how and experience, allow industry volunteers to mentor some of Atidim’s students, and assist Closing Ranks mentees to enroll in Atidim’s training programs, at the end of which they will find a suitable career.
The first year of our partnership with the RASHI Foundation, Yated and the Welfare Ministry ended with flying colors. Held as part of the MEKUSHARIM (“Connected”) venture, we supported 35 young people and shared or knowhow.
It is worth noting that until a new tender is issued on supporting hundreds of young people next year, the RASHI Foundation asked to extend the pilot with us by six more months.
Gal Fradkin, our northern region coordinator reports: following three months of preparations, interviews, and team building, we launched a joint project with the Yokneam Center for the Young, which employs local mentors in supporting teenagers from Yokneam.
November saw a festive announcement event, held in two groups due to COVID-19 restrictions. The event was attended by Mayor Simon Alfassi, his deputy Mr. Roman Peres, and delegates from the Housing Ministry in charge of neighborhood rehabilitation. The project will continue until the end of 2021.
The Zur Shalem paramilitary preparatory program
the Carmiel preparatory program trains combat soldiers in welding and CNC.
This is the second year we support the mentors of the young people who participate in the training.
Vered Levy, the group’s facilitator, and Gal Fradkin held a Hanukkah event for the trainees and the instructors.
Each guest told about the moments of light in his life and the light he shares with others while lighting a candle.
The mentors sent greeting videos to the participants and everyone raised a toast for Hanukkah and their release from military service.
The meeting was very moving and meaningful.
Intel for the Community
Intel Israel encourages its employees to volunteer in the community.
Elli Meir, a mentor at Closing Ranks and an electronics engineer in Intel Jerusalem, helps promote the partnership. He represents us at all of Intel volunteering fairs, recruits new volunteers and… and Intel matches every hour of volunteering with $10!
We are Proud
Ishi from Lod, who was accompanied by Amir for the last two years, successfully completed her studies at the Emek Izrael College and starts to work as a certified nurse at the Asaf Harofe Hospital.
The Yehudit and Dudu Wiesel Scholarship
Ms. Yehudit Wiesel offered us to fund a scholarship in memory of her parents, who were born in Romania. The scholarship will go to one of our mentees.
The key criteria for the scholarship include the discipline chosen, its beneficial impact on others, and its power to make a significant change for the better in the life of the recipient.
Twenty-two members applied and we are waiting for the donors’ decision.
The Agricultural Farm of Ethiopian Immigrants in Latrun
Alon Schuster, the Minister of Agriculture, mentor and a co-founder of Closing Ranks, visited the agricultural farm of Ethiopian immigrants in Latrun.
Pnina Tamano-Shata, Minister of Immigrant Absorption, participated in the tour with her project manager, Israela Inho, a Closing Ranks’ alumnus.
Eliram, our deputy Director-General, recalls, “Three years ago, I participated at Grutirally (a Hebrew wordplay on “Scrape Car Rally”) for the first time. As a social race designed for old cars worth no more than ILS 3,000, it was an exceptional experience in many ways. I joined with a friend and with my parents’ Mitsubishi Super Lancer model 1995.
One of the participants described the rally in a very vivid way: “Humans are part of the miracle of creation. They are important but not more important than the seas, the forests or the whales. In fact, humans used to be at the bottom of the animal hierarchy: relatively small, vulnerable, and not fast or strong or fierce in any way. In fact, humans were an easy-to-get snack for the other creatures. However, while struggling to survive in the animal kingdom, evolution helped humans develop skills and qualities that helped them transform from prey to plant collector and then a hunter respected by his surrounding, all the way from the cave to landing on the moon.
What are these qualities?
Curiosity, intelligence, teamwork, and group effort, the development of spoken and sign language, the discovery of fire, the design of tools and weapons, and more. While other animals too feature a certain level of organization, humans have excelled in perfecting their capabilities and have achieved these capabilities much faster and on a higher level.
Humans have developed gloriously and have achieved unprecedented accomplishments. However, they concurrently developed bad traits that set them back, such as the sense of shortage that leads to materialism, alienation, a constant search for comfort, dislike of foreigners, underestimating the importance of helping others, impatience, intolerance, idleness, and laziness. The bad qualities compromise the qualities that helped us survive while we coexisted with animals.
Elli’s Grutarally reflects the yearning for the old values that were forsaken. It reawakens one’s resourcefulness, encourages the spirit to face new challenges, and rekindles cooperation and brotherhood.
I was awed by the things our team accomplished with a rope, pulley, and a water bottle. We became creative again, struggling with technical glitches, the discomfort of staying out in the desert, uphill, down into the wadi, in the water streams or in the goats’ trails. In so doing, we revisited our landscapes in an intimate manner, all the way to the finish line.
We returned home with our vehicles, all of which survived the rally, a group of people from different places who met for the first time just to rediscover together the most fundamental values we share.
On my first ride in Israel on a 125cc old scooter a month ago, I happened to meet five amazing mentors, including Yanay Hial, who founded the GrutaRally.
I was then invited to Avri Gilad’s TV morning show, where I told about Closing Ranks. The exposure led to the recruitment of several more mentors, as well as to donations from other rally participants. I hope our next rally will be held in collaboration with Closing Ranks.
The welcome addition
Adva Silko, our office and HR manager is replacing Naveh Pesach. Adva grew up in Hadera. She lives in Givat Olga, has a first degree (with honors, on a Heseg Foundation Scholarship) in behavioral science and HR from the Netanya Academic College.
Gal Balva is our organization main social worker. She has first and master’s degrees in social work, including clinical specialization in trauma therapy among youth at risk. She is also experienced in facilitating therapeutic and dynamic groups and in therapy via outdoor and extreme activities.
Gal Balva, Getting to her with Waze
Take it modestly,
Turn right on Kind Heart Street,
extend your arm outside the window,
sense the wind – it may be furious,
maybe a lightning storm is coming.
Run along with her on the side of the flood,
watch the dry land cracks
unveiling the soft and pleasant spot
where you can lay your soul to rest.
Get out of the car, take off your shoes
and sludge through the mud.
It may be too cold…
but it may also soothe your toes.
Touch the Drimia leaves
which sprouted so green and fleshy
from within the cracks.
They will bloom when fall comes.
I’m Gal Balva. I joined Closing Ranks as a social worker a while ago. The piece above attempts to describe my journey to the Association and to the charming young woman I mentor. It stands for the journeys we take to reach out to each one – both volunteers and Association members.
I am deeply excited to be part of such an accomplished Association!
In the spirit of the Corona age, I invite you all to hook into compelling Zoom presentations I will hold every two weeks. Come and learn, be motivated, and feel you belong without leaving home.
A link will be sent in early 2021.
Looking forward to meeting you.
Rachel Epstein, who was in charge of our mentees & volunteers, wrote:
“It is not a farewell greeting. While I am stepping down from my role after 18 months, this is by no means the end of our relationship.
Most of you know I too, grew up at risk, and that it was very meaningful for me to watch the mentoring at Closing Ranks grow into a genuine, personal and strong relationship. I had the privilege to be with you in the better moments, as well as hardship.
Thank you to all the members, mentors, moderators, the staff, and the executive committee for the opportunity to help, impact, and make a difference.”
Rachel has fulfilled her role with devotion and professionalism. She started as a coordinator of the northern region. Over the past few months, she was responsible for the members and volunteers area and the central region.
Thank you, Rachel, for your professional work, creativity and resourcefulness, and the personalized, always sensitive response to everyone at Closing Ranks.
Wishing you a Happy Hanukkah!
and the team at Closing Ranks