In 2012, Migdal Ohr initiated a new and unique project intended to cater to ultra-Orthodox youth who had dropped out of their traditional educational environments (yeshivot). Migdal Ohr believes that given the right conditions, these boys have tremendous potential to succeed in life.
The Zoharim Agricultural-Educational Youth Village provides a safe home and stable working environment for at-risk, orthodox boys. It supplies them with a holistic educational framework, comprised of both a high-level education and special vocational training. It serves as a home, school and workplace for these teens who so far have been unable to succeed elsewhere. The objective of this revolutionary program is to empower students and inspire them to build the self-confidence necessary to lead happy and productive lives.
The project aims to support these boys and lead them to a significant change in their lives, taking them from the streets and onto to a brighter future. The goal is that once the boys complete their studies, they will go on to serve their country, living as independent, employable individuals who will contribute positively to their community and country.
Zoharim, located 45 minutes from Jerusalem in the scenic and biblical location of the Adullam region of the Judean hills, is set on 30 acres of land. The village is currently home to 100 students, and we hope to expand to more than 200 students in the near future. In 2014, we celebrated the first graduating class of 18 students who have gone on to begin their national service in the IDF.
The platform that this program is built upon includes the following:
a. A supportive framework in a warm and loving environment surrounded by staff and their families
b. The nature of the village encourages personal growth, responsibility and cultural dialogue
c. Educational-technological program towards full matriculation
d. Academic preparation for further studies
e. Professional and unique vocational training options
f. Initiatives such as a horse ranch, winery, olive press, goat farm, greenhouse and carpentry workshop
g. Preparation for the IDF
h. Modern boarding facilities
Additionally, Zoharim’s students began a volunteering program in 2014 with clubhouses at Kiryat Gat. During these afterschool programs, the boys from Zoharim participate in a “Big Brother” mentorship type of program with at-risk youth, assisting them with their homework and running enrichment programs. The younger boys and the Zoharim students immediately established a connection, and it has been a rewarding experience for everyone involved.
In partnership with the Israeli government, Zoharim has become a project of national importance. With only two years of academic education under its belt, it has already received tremendous support from Knesset members and government officials who have visited the village such as Minister of Welfare Meir Cohen and President of Israel Reuven Rivlin.