Machon Maayan Comes of Age

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11 Jan 2007

Machon Maayan, the new school for post-high school girls from North America, opened its doors in Bet Shemesh in September with 37 girls, of whom the majority are graduates of NCSY. The school, which has blossomed since its establishment, is a joint project of the Orthodox Union and the Education Dept. of the Jewish Agency. Says Rabbi Dovid Cohen, the mentor and chairman of ‘The Friends of Machon Maayan’, “This is no small achievement. The young women are receiving the best all-round education consisting of classical Jewish texts, applied halakha, 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,” adds Rabbi Ira Kosowsky, the dynamic Director of Machon Maayan. Moreover, each of the girls is involved in two afternoons a week of internships in Bet Shemesh, where the school is housed. “Here the objective is building hands-on familiarity with Israeli society and the desire to give to others,” notes Menachem Persoff, the Executive Director of the program and one of its founding fathers.

Rabbi Avi Berman, the newly appointed Director of OU Israel, is delighted with the school. “Now NCSYers who were looking for an all-round education during their gap year have the opportunity to spend a year in Israel and to give back something to the community,” he declares. Steve Savitsky, President of the Orthodox Union and 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 extremely dedicated and talented staff has made Machon Maayan one of the leading girls’ seminaries in Israel.

The young women are very glad they have chosen Machon Maayan for their year in Israel and are very grateful for everything they are receiving through the program. In the words of Kaley Ames of Vancouver to representatives of the participating bodies at the school’s recent opening ceremony, “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 have Israel give back to us. Your hard work has enabled us to learn Torah, perform acts of chesed, attend tiyulim ~ live, breath, 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, looks ahead 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.”

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The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.