The Harel Association was established in 2016, with the mission of helping teen immigrants from the former Soviet Union to overcome the daunting challenges of achieving full integration into Israeli society. Each year, hundreds of lone immigrants (and children of immigrants) take the courageous step of choosing to serve in the Israeli Defense Forces. Harel programs are designed to support these young men and women in strengthening their Jewish identity, immersing themselves in Israeli history and culture and building their pride in their unique Russian Jewish heritage.
Harel’s IDF preparatory program is a six-month residential program (based in Jerusalem) which provides classroom instruction in Israeli culture and Russian-Jewish heritage, field trips, and practical preparation for enlisting in meaningful IDF service. The name Harel was chosen to underscore the link between the historic brigade of lone immigrants who were heroes of Israel’s War of Independence—and our twenty-first century trailblazers who follow in their footsteps.
Hundreds of young Russian-Israeli alumni of the Harel program are now serving, or have completed their IDF service. A significant proportion are serving as officers in prestigious units, and recent graduates are taking their first step forward to independent adult life in Israel. Harel’s alumni program is there to support them. And at the urging of Harel graduates, there is now a Moledet (Homeland) program to support lone Russian-Israeli immigrants in high school dormitory programs throughout the country.
Participants in Harel programs
Study days and field trips
Israeli society is culturally diverse, with immigrants from all over the globe, each with their own piece of the puzzle of our shared heritage. We believe that new immigrants must preserve their identity and their personal and cultural history as they integrate into Israeli society. Our focus is on strengthening Jewish identity and knowledge of roots in Russian heritage while becoming immersed in contemporary Israel, as they take on their very own place in contemporary Israel, the spirit of Zionism, and preparation for military service.
Study days and field trips
This program’s mission is to strengthen the full integration of our alumni in their military service and, as young adult citizens of the State of Israel. These young men and women, benefit tremendously from the guidance of our staff and senior alumni, who help them navigate new and unfamiliar challenges they have taken on as courageous lone immigrants and children of immigrants.
The “Homeland” Program reaches out to high school juniors and seniors in dormitory and community schools throughout Israel. It was inspired by Harel alumni who recognized the need for outreach to lone immigrants and children of immigrants to strengthen their Russian-Jewish-Israeli identity and prepare them for meaningful military service and full integration into the Israeli mainstream. A significant proportion of high school graduates enlist in the Harel IDEF Preparatory Program
The 6-month residential program was established in 2014 and is Israel’s only pre-army preparatory program designed to meet the needs of lone immigrants and children of immigrant families from the former Soviet Union. The curriculum and field trips bring to life Jewish history, Israeli culture, Zionism and the singular influence of Russian Jewish heritage on contemporary Israel. The program empowers teens to strive to fulfill their potential for meaningful military service by preparing them for the physical and mental challenges of IDF service. The program is based in Jerusalem and participants are from all regions of Israel.