The Shared Society Incubator
Learning space for training Shared Society Coordinators in youth organizations
A joint program of Merchavim and The Israeli Council for Youth Organizations.
Israeli society is composed of diverse communities that often hold different and opposing worldviews. This diversity creates fertile ground for ignorance, mutual fear, and prejudice, which endanger social cohesion and may lead to violent outbreaks, especially in areas of the social and geographic periphery, where social pressures are particularly strong. Young people and adolescents are particularly prone to being at the center of such outbreaks. The violent incidents in May 2021 showed us even more strongly that we must act to maintain dialogue between the different populations and identities in Israel and reduce mutual fears. As a result, the “Shared Society Incubator” was established in 2022, a joint venture of Merchavim and the Council for Youth Organizations, whose goal is to raise the issue of shared society on the agenda of informal education organizations by training shared society coordinators in youth organizations.
Due to the division of the education system into four separate streams, children and adolescents from different groups do not meet each other at all, thus creating feelings of distance and alienation towards their peers who belong to other population groups. The informal education system, especially the organizations that are members of The Council for Youth Organizations, whose main activity is in the economic and geographic periphery, is an effective factor in assimilating unifying social processes. It is a flexible and dynamic system that can create programs and implement them efficiently and quickly. It is a fertile ground for cooperation between diverse populations among the youth groups’ members within their organization and in the encounter between the various organizations.
The Incubator participants are seniors and field coordinators in youth organizations that represent all of Israeli society – Christians, Muslims and Jews, ultra-Orthodox, religious and secular, Arabs, Druze, immigrants, Diaspora Jews, LGBTQ people and more.
The Incubator is intended to create an infrastructure for shared society in youth organizations and enrich informal educators, who meet with hundreds of thousands of youth throughout the year with tools for close-knit dialogue and for dealing with charged issues at the heart of the Israeli social challenge.
In March 2023, the first cohort graduated from the two-year in-depth and intensive training program that moves on three axes:
- Training course
- Individual and group professional accompaniment
- Formulation and implementation of an organizational work plan
Each training session takes place in a different place in Israel in order to get to know different communities in Israeli society. The inherent diversity of the group constitutes a microcosm of Israeli society and invites dealing with volatile conflictual issues under controlled conditions. This confrontation in itself is an important tool in training. During the training, the model for shared citizenship is studied in depth and practical tools are provided for implementing the model in the youth organizations. As part of the personal guidance of the coordinators, the group facilitator reaches each organization, assists in mapping the organizational need in the context of promoting shared society, writing a work plan and tools for implementing it in the field. An important part of the program is the networking that enables the participants to collaborate with colleagues from many other organizations after the program ends. An alum network is being created these days.
The Israeli Council for Youth Organization is an umbrella organization established as a non-profit organization in 2013 at the initiative of the directors of the organizations. The Council works to create inter-organizational collaborations and carry out professional training and promote development processes in the informal education space, and also incorporates, coordinates and represents the activities and joint staff work of the organizations. The Council represents 30 member organizations, comprising more than 300,000 youth from all the “tribes”, religions, genders and perceptions prevalent in Israel today.
“We will create a new generation here in which there is a combination of one with the other. You don’t have to agree, but understand each other, hear and be together.”
“There is a very strong sentence that Bat Ami said at a meeting in Beit Shemesh: The world is made up of three parts, thought, speech and action. When thought and speech meet, action happens. This understanding reinforces the idea at the base of The Incubator that brings together people who are different from each other to think and talk and in the end to do the deed.”
“Thanks to encounters like this, and people like that, little by little we’re making a difference.”
“We talked about a bridge – I can reach out, but to do something or change something, someone has to reach out to me from the other side and hold my hands that way. That’s when I really realized that this was something we had to do together, and during the meetings I found people with whom I can do together.”
Shared Society Programs Manager
Bader is a lawyer and educator with over a decade of experience in project management, informal education, and establishing and accompanying social initiatives. She holds a bachelor’s degree in technology and science teaching from the Technion and a bachelor’s degree in law from the University of Haifa. She is currently a graduate student in public administrative law at the University of Haifa. She has extensive experience working with local authorities in Arab and Druze society and with civil society organizations. She was selected as one of The De Marker newspaper’s 40 most promising young people for 2014 and was a leading candidate for the Rappaport Prize for groundbreaking and transformative women’s work in Israeli society in 2015.
Bader joined Merchavim in 2022.
Born in Ashkelon, she lives in Givat Ella in the Jezreel Valley. Rachely is an expert in leading multi-sectoral social-community processes, strategic processes and in the development and accompaniment of initiatives and projects. She has experience in leading multicultural groups and in developing and writing content. She holds a master’s degree in gender studies and a bachelor’s degree in political science. She is a social activist who founded and managed the Ma’ase Center’s alum network. Rachely joined Merchavim in 2022.