With 37 Girls From N America and Canada in Attendance, Machon Maayan College in Israel Comes of Age
Machon Maayan, the new college in Israel for Jewish and Israel studies and leadership for post-high school girls from North America, opened its doors in Bet Shemesh in September with 37 students, the majority of whom are graduates of NCSY, the OU's famed youth program. The school, which has blossomed since its establishment, is a joint project of the Orthodox Union and the Education Department of the Jewish Agency. Rabbi Dovid Cohen, the mentor and chairman of The Friends of Machon Maayan explained, “This is no small achievement. The young women are receiving the best all-round Jewish education consisting of classic Jewish texts, applied halacha (Jewish law), Jewish history and philosophy, and studies in contemporary Israel.”
“The goal is to apply what is learned in the classroom and to develop proactive leaders ready to become involved in the community,” added Rabbi Ira Kosowsky, the Director of Machon Maayan. Each of the girls is involved in two afternoons a week of internships in Bet Shemesh, a half an hour from Jerusalem, where the school is housed. “Here the objective is building hands-on familiarity with Israeli society and the desire to give to others,” noted Menachem Persoff, the Executive Director of the program and one of its founding fathers.
Rabbi Avi Berman, the Director of OU Israel, is delighted with the school. “Now NCSYers who were looking for an all-round Jewish education before entering college have the opportunity to spend a year in Israel and to give back something to the community,” he declared. OU President, Stephen J. Savitsky, who has been a keen supporter of the program from the start, noted: “Now there is a place for every graduate of NCSY to learn in Israel. Machon Maayan is filling an important need.”
The program gained momentum when MASA – the joint Jewish Agency and Israeli government body -- was set up two years ago to offer support for the development of long-term study programs in Israel. Touro College agreed to lend its accreditation and with unusual cooperation all the parties worked together to launch the program. In a very short time, the dedicated and talented staff has made Machon Maayan one of the leading girls seminaries in Israel.
The young women are glad they have chosen Machon Maayan for their year in Israel and are grateful for everything they are receiving through the program. At the school’s opening ceremony, held in November as part of the OU's Biennial National Convention in Israel, Kaley Ames of Vancouver, BC, declared to representatives of the participating organizations, “It is because of you that we, the girls of Machon Maayan, are here in Israel fulfilling our dreams, our hopes and our potentials. You have given us the invaluable opportunity to find the beauty within Israel, to give to Israel, and to have Israel give back to us. Your hard work has enabled us to learn Torah, perform acts of chessed (loving kindness), attend tiyulim (trips) -- live, breathe, work and play in Israel for nine months. We chose to come to Israel, but you have brought our experience to life. Without you, none of this would have been possible.”
Yitzchak Fund, President of the OU Israel Center, visualizes the future with gratification. “We are looking at an expanded program for 2007/8; the enthusiasm and interest is contagious. There are also plans to open a boys yeshiva in 2008 and to develop a campus in Bet Shemesh to house the girls school and to serve other programs of the OU in Israel.”
For more information visit: www.machonmaayan.org.