B’Deracheha Youth Movement awarded Ben-Gurion Prize

Ot Ben Gurion 2024

Netzach’s B’Deracheha youth movement for Charedi girls in Jerusalem has received a NIS 50,000 prize for its social volunteer work, community involvement and leadership development.

B’Deracheha is a new youth movement for 11-13 year-old Charedi school girls in Jerusalem, and run by counselors from the Netzach Darkei-Sara High School. It is part of the Netzach Educational Network and affiliated with the Ministry of Education’s MaMaCh stream of state-run Charedi elementary schools, the Jerusalem Municipality’s Charedi youth & social activities department and HaMerchav HaShalem.

B’Deracheha means “In the Torah’s Ways” and its members meet after school on Tuesday afternoons. In recent months, they have been involved in activities to help those affected by the war. In October, they ran a flower market to help farmers from the Gaza Envelope to salvage income from their damaged greenhouses. Among other activities, they have been baking Challot for delivery to IDF soldiers serving on the front lines, and preparing gift packages for children evacuated from their homes in Northern Israel.  The counselors, drawn from grades 10-12, meet regularly with their advisory team to plan activities and discuss the challenges of mentoring younger students, particularly during this very stressful time.

The Ben-Gurion Award was presented to Mrs. Hadas Neiman, principal of Darkei-Sara High School and co-founder B’Deracheha, and co-founder Mrs. Adi Bilevsky from the Ministry of Education. Neiman explains: “The goal of the B’Deracheha youth movement is to encourage Charedi girls to see themselves as engaged Israeli citizens with the potential to make a difference in the wider society. It also encourages our students to develop leadership skills, which is a crucial part of our educational mission. We aim to expand this exciting pilot project to other Jerusalem neighborhoods and to other cities in future years.”

The Ben-Gurion Award is awarded annually by Beit Ben-Gurion in Tel Aviv, the Nadav Foundation and Keren Lautman, to encourage educational initiatives reflecting David Ben-Gurion’s vision of statehood – “a common civic consciousness that binds the various communities together in a civil society …. founded on democratic and Jewish values that promote social solidarity.” In 2023, Darkei-Sara and its principal, Hadas Neiman, received a smaller Ben-Gurion Prize for the school’s “Ani Maamin” personal development programs.

Rabbi Menachem Bombach, founder of the Netzach Educational Network and principal of one of its 13 schools, recognizes the importance of encouraging civic engagement through formal and informal educational projects. “B’Deracheha is the first Charedi youth movement to intentionally engage with Israel’s wider society. Most “Beit Ya’akov” youth groups are focused on projects within the Charedi community.”

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