IDF Seminar – Making a Difference

June 7, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Senior Associate, International Operations


Just after the Campaign closed earlier this month, a seminar for officers associated with our IDF projects was convened in Israel. It marked the third seminar we’ve brought to commanders at Havat HaShomer and MAKAM (Center for the Advancement of Special Populations), and the first for those working with at-risk women in HAGAM and in SIBA, a special unit located at Havat HaShomer that works throughout the IDF to enable those in command positions to better understand the needs of at-risk youth.

The seminar ran for four days, with an average of 30 IDF commanders in attendance each day (photo attached). The first day was at Havat HaShomer, the second at Machaneh 80 (HAGAM; (photo of base commander Lt. Col. Oranit Miller and Lt. Col. Alaa Abu Rukun of Havat HaShomer is attached), the third day at a base that houses IDF Prison #4 and the final day at a closed base in the Central Command located in Beth El. The relevant base commanders joined commanders each day to learn more about the greater MAKAM system and, more importantly, to hear from the 3 Cleveland mental health professionals – Jeff Lox (Havat HaShomer Commanders Work Group chair), Dr. Jeremy Shapiro and Jackie Lowe Stevenson.


What began a little less than 4 years ago with an insight into the needs of Havat HaShomer’s female commanders through the trailer from the film “Yes, Miss Commander,” has evolved into a deeply significant partnership effort with Havat HaShomer and the entire MAKAM system. The effects that these seminars and links we have created to connect each seminar with the next one have had on the projects we support in the IDF are visible:

1 – Havat HaShomer and MAKAM commanders had no connection with each other prior to the first seminar in the Spring of 2010; this month they sat and learned together, asked questions of each other, became friends.

2 – Last year, a new workshop in the jails, where unfortunately MAKAM soldiers may end up before eventually leaving the IDF, was proposed by our partners. This month, we saw how very successful this workshop is and what an affect its leader Gili Rosen Katz is having on MAKAM soldiers and the IDF.

3 – Last year, funding was requested for a psychologist who would work with the VAHAL committees that judge a soldier’s suitability for service. Last month we met the psychologist, Dr. Ilan Baruch, and he and the Cleveland mental health professionals working on the seminar became significant colleagues as well as fast friends.

4 – In the late 1990s we began a partnership with the IDF. This year we learned that we are family, highly valued by top IDF Education Corps leadership who respect and seek our expertise to provide tools for the commanders who work with the at-risk youth. We are not just the funders; we are the trusted advisors.

Together with IDF Education Corps staff, our Federation is building sustainable and systemic change, enabling at-risk men and women to begin to dream of better futures through the programs and IDF professionals we support. There is still much work to do, but, at least this one time we are able to say that we can see the differences we are making.


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