ZEHUT – Centers for Deepening the Jewish Identity

ZEHUT represents 32 associations working under the supervision of The Torah Culture Department in The Ministry of Education. ZEHUT operates 63 centers in 135 councils across Israel, from Ma’alot and Kiryat Shemona in the north, to Eilat in the south. The main activities are held in more than 700 elementary schools and high schools across the country.
Because the majority of centers are located in peripheral and development towns, the afternoon hours are dedicated to activities within the community: in clubs, absorption centers, working with the handicapped or the elderly, and so on.
ZEHUT’s goals are: strengthening the common grounds within the nation and cultivating a connection between the different segments; giving meaning to the term “Jewish-Zionist Identity”; enriching students’ acquaintance with Israeli heritage and Jewish culture – its values, symbols and customs – while examining its relevance to their daily life.

About ZEHUT

ZEHUT (formerly “Igud Hamercazim”) was established in July 2004 by 8 associations that together operated 40 centers within Israeli communities. Today, ZEHUT represents 32 associations that operate 63 centers across the country, from Ma’alot and Kiryat Shemona in the north, to Eilat in the south.

ZEHUT’s Vision

  • Strengthening the solidarity and common interests between the different segments of the Jewish nation.
  • Turning Judaism and Jewish heritage into objects of pride, relation and identification.
  • Building a bridge and cultivating a connection between teenagers, both secular and orthodox: shattering misconceptions, removing dividers and strengthening the common interests to create a sense of partnership and unity.

ZEHUT’s Roles

  • Initiating, organizing and and managing projects on a national scale.
  • Representing the centers in matters of legislation, budgets and activities.
  • PR and information – raising awareness to the centers’ activities and their importance.
  • Enlisting resources.
  • Training – organizing and managing programs to support instructors, pedagogic staff and administrative staff within the centers.
  • Enlisting and reassigning manpower.

The majority of the centers’ work is focused on creating experiences with a special added value, within the formal education system. This is achieved in different ways: scheduled lessons in the classroom, specific activities according to the Jewish calendar, the circle of life, etc.

Structure

The different associations that operated the centers for Jewish identity established ZEHUT to provide a better solution in the field. Since then, more than 20 new centers have been established and the associations behind them have joined as part of ZEHUT.
The head of each association joins the general assembly that is ZEHUT, while management consists of a smaller circle of decision makers.
Although each center emphasizes different topics according to the community it serves, all centers share the same goal: strengthening and deepening the Jewish identity in communities throughout Israel.

Sherut Leumi

Thanks to the work of Sherut Leumi girls, about 200,000 secular children and teens enjoy a fixed weekly hour of Jewish studies, values, Zionism and heritage.
Sherut Leumi within the ZEHUT setting is enriching and rewarding both on a personal level and from the community standpoint. Sherut Leumi girls acquire leadership skills to later serve them in life. Many of them carry on working with ZEHUT to become instructors in the centers.
The ZEHUT family plays an active role in Jewish doings within the pubic educational system. Girls have a direct affect on dozens of students, deepening their Jewish-Zionist affinity to the land of Israel, bridging across divides and educating towards values.
The girls become key figures in the communities in which they work and contribute to the personal growth of the students.
Through ZEHUT, the girls establish a true connection with students in the community and offer a real change in their lives and perceptions.
Through the work process in the center, they practice the values they preach: unity, sharing, camaraderie and Jewish heritage.
The Sherut Leumi girls are full partners in planning and producing the activities, have full creative control, and are at the frontline of the centers’ activities – carrying them out in the field.
250 girls serve in the centers, some for a period of a year and some for two. Screening of applicants is held by each center according to its needs, character and targeted population.

Professional Training

  • Summer – before beginning their service, the girls participate in an 8-day course.
  • Winter – after 4 months of activity, all Sherut Leumi girls meet for a 4-day course.
  • The girls participate in weekly meetings with their instructor and are guided throughout their entire service.

Israel’s Classroom:

An innovative partnership between Zehut and the ZOOM channel led to a cutting-edge program that is the first of its kind. In this program fifth and sixth grades from all over Israel competed in knowledge contests, tasks, and amusing and thrilling challenges, that all deal with our country and our capital, Jerusalem.
In every program two classes competed, with the winner going up to the next level. The two leading classes competed head to head in the big finale.
The program has garnered much interest, and added excitement and experiential learning to the traditional learning for the various classes.
View the program in the attached link.

Project Good Talk:

Project Good Talk began its activities in 2015, with the understanding that words have the power to change reality, and with the aspiration to create a society that is honorable, honors others and is appropriate.
Professionals from a variety of specializations and professions: education, communication, society and public figures, operate the project and advance the organization’s vision.

Our Main Objectives:

  • Raising societal and public sensitivity and awareness of the power of words and their influence on people and the environment
  • Implementation of positive discourse in interpersonal and mass communication
  • Initiation and advancement of communal and public educational activities, within a variety of Israeli society’s diverse populations, in order to change the culture of public discourse

How Do We Do This:

  • Educational activities that encourage the education system (teachers and students) to develop positive discourse:
  • Lesson plans for elementary school children which include games and films produced for the program
  • Recess activities
  • Workshops for teachers and students
  • Board games
  • Operation of the Educational Ministry’s debate program – “Discourse on Point” that provides tools to develop listening abilities, creation of dialogue and thought

Honor Day:

Honor Day for Israeli victims of terror or war is our opportunity to respect, thank, recognize and see those who remained alive and carry with them the hardships- physical and emotional- from the wars and acts of terror that left their mark on their bodies and souls.
This day will be noted in schools across Israel through educational systems and designated ceremonies created especially for this day.
The activities include visits to IDF disabled veteran’s centers, conversations with injured veterans, and unique ceremonies in schools and local municipalities.

United Jerusalem:

  • Celebrations of the jubilee of the unification of Jerusalem in fifty municipalities across Israel:
  • Unique lessons and educational kits for hundreds of schools
  • Tens of thousands of students and youth movement members participating in The Jerusalem March
  • Ceremonies, plays and experiential activities for hundreds of thousands of youth and residents
  • Performances of “Singing and Storytelling Jerusalem” in fifty municipalities

Baking Matzot Project as a part of the Experiences Program:

Sixty Thousand students of the state education from all over the country participated in activities for Passover as a part of the 'Experiences Program' led by the Ministry of Education, which was initiated by the Minister of Education – Mr. Naftali Bennett. The project included "baking matzot in a haste" – a unique, mass, real experience combining different related activities as well a video.
The response for the largest Matzot Baking in the country received excellent responses and its success exceeded all expectations.
"There are students who come from homes which do not know enough about Jewish Values and 'Zehut' activities", said Eti Atli, a school principal in Ofakim during the Passover activity in her school. "Here inside the school it is the only place they experience such a thing, where they can act, meet, learn and therefore bring it to their own homes; we are more than happy that the parents also show interest in these subjects, and in this way we are able to bring the Jewish Heritage for many versatile communities and populations".

To watch the video summarizing the activity:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umH1g5UPn7Y