History of Merchavim
Merchavim was established by the former director, Mike Prashker, in 1998 as an Israeli non-governmental organization (NGO) to create a fairer society for all Israeli citizens through shared citizenship education. Today Mike Prashkner serves on the Merchavim Executive Board.
Though an independent entity from the outset, Merchavim began operating from a desk at the Amal 1 School Network headquarters in Tel Aviv, at the invitation of Dr. Haim Ilouz-Ayalon who was Chairman of Amal 1 at that time and who served as Chairman of the Mercahvim Board until 2009.
In 2002, Merchavim moved to its offices in Ramla, just off the Tel Aviv/Jerusalem highway. With its rich mix of Jewish, Muslim and Christian-Israelis, secular and religious communities, immigrants from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia, Ramla represents the cultural diversity and complexity of Israeli society and remains the ideal center for Merchavim’s national shared citizenship education operations. In 2014 Merchavim moved to new offices in Lod, another diverse community neighbouring Ramla.
Today, in the second decade of its operations, Merchavim’s programs are being taught, supported and evaluated in some 500 schools and kindergartens in the Jewish-secular, Jewish-religious and Arab-Israeli school streams.
Development of the Model by the "Merchavim Group"
The shared citizenship model and the spaces of shared citizenship teaching kit, which is central to Merchavim programming, were originally developed by a diverse group of Israeli teachers from all 4 school streams: Jewish secular, Jewish-religious, Ultra-Orthodox and Arab-Israeli.
This group represents a microcosmos of Israeli society: men and women, Jews and Arabs, secular and religious, center and periphery, left and right, new immigrants and veterans, physically healthy and handicapped. The group worked hard to overcome deep disagreements and to create a consensual shared citizenship vision based on shared values and common interests. Each member of the group was given the time, place and space to express verbally and in writing his or her feelings of “personal” and “group” identity. Over a period of 18 months, beginning in 1999, the group’s efforts focused on learning about each other, understanding each other’s distinct and shared ideas relating to their Israeli citizenship and agreeing the basic building-blocks of Merchavim’s unique shared citizenship education approach.
The unique program development process and the innovative and widely consensual shared citizenship education approach that it generated were to a large extent made possible through the uniquely diverse make-up of the original program development team.
The Original Program Development Team
Note: the background information on members is relevant to the period of the development of the model and its evaluation.
Michal Barkan – Born in England and lives in Mitzpe Hoshiya. Works as an English teacher at the Hispin Yeshiva in the Golan and as a translator.
Leah Shekler – Lives in Ofrat. Works as a Bible Studies and Jewish Philosophy teacher. Also works in the Values Management Dept. of the Ministry of Education, specializing in Judaism and Democracy.
Miri Peleg – Born in Afula and lives in Nahariya. Vice-Principal of Amal School in Nahariya, teaches Hebrew Language and Social Education.
Nachama Shani – Born in Tel Aviv and lives in Ramat Gan. Principal of Aviv Network Technological High School.
Naomi Shmuel – Born in England and lives in Ma'ale Adumim. Works in the Immigration Office and is a writer.
Aziza Diab-Adris – Born in Haifa and lives in Shfaram. Teaches Art at the "Mar Elias" private Christian school in E'ablin.
Yona Katzir - Born in Romania and lives in Haifa. Educational and Training Director at the Leo Beck School in Haifa.
Tikva Keren – Born in Or Akiva and lives in Hadera. Vice-Principal of the Tachamoni Religious High School in Hadera, teaches in and manages the school Computer Science Dept.
Amos Harpaz – Member of the Ma'ale Chamisha Kibbutz and teaches History, Philosophy and Citizenship at the Brenner High School in Givat Brenner.
Chava Lotan – Born in Russia and lives in Givat Ze'ev in Jerusalem. Teaches Music at the Centre for the Blind and is active in the Israeli blind community.
Sophian Kabha – Lives in Barta'a in the Wadi Ara area. Educational advisor at the Um-el-Fachem High School and a journalist.
Regina Bergen – Born in Kiev, Ukraine and lives in Lod. Responsible for the absorption of Russian-speaking immigrants at the Amal 1 Technological High School in Tel Aviv.
Rabbi Arieh Smaj'a – Born in Tunisia and lives in Jerusalem. Rabbi of the Ramat Shlomo neighbourhood of Jerusalem.
Yona Keligwasser - Born in Nahariya – and lives in Kiryat Bialik. Teaches History and Literature.
Sohil Haj – Born and lives in E'ablin. Vice-Principal of the "Mar Elias" private Christian school, teaches Arabic and responsible for social coordination at the school.
Hana ben Heroush-Gabai – Born in Israel and lives in Bet Shemesh. Previously served as Religious Education Director at Melitz and now Branch Manager of "Chalad" (Youth Education Centre) in Jerusalem.
- Michal Fuchs
- Marzuk Khalabi