Yiftach

In a magical location along the north shore of the Dead Sea silhouetted by desert mountains lies a safe harbor that has changed, from one extreme to the other, the lives of hundreds of teenage youth. An intense process of self-discovery is taking shape in the presence of that matchless spirit of the Judean desert that fills the heart with renewed hope, with the help of a unique, innovative and supportive framework.

Yiftach

Yiftach is home for 45 teenage boys from religious homes in grades 10-12 whose existing places of learning in the religious sector (high schools, yeshiva high schools) did not suit them for various reasons. With the absence of a supportive framework there arose among the youngsters feelings of frustration and the loss of a sense of belonging, which led to vagrancy and extended periods outside the school framework. In consequence, more than once they found themselves exposed to grave risks.
The main objective for which Yiftach was established was to enable teenage youth at risk to realize their latent potential for successful integration into various life structures. With a personal response suitable to the needs of each individual, teenagers develop a strong desire and sense of self-competence to integrate into the army or preparatory school, attend college, become part of the work force and lead a balanced family life.

The Uniqueness of Yiftach:
Dynamic Education

Dynamic education is an innovative worldview that was developed over more than a decade and is based on “work through contact,” which helps youth grow by means of managing daily relationships within an all-inclusive and supportive framework. The wide-open space of dialog engenders a corrective experience that strengthens the teenager’s sense of competence to develop and rise above the pains of the past.
With the will to relate personally to each and every individual the teenagers in Yiftach are divided into three age groups, each containing 15 boys. Each group receives around the clock support from dedicated staff: a coordinator (instructor), youth counselor, social worker and two supportive young men in their pre-army service year.
The personal accompaniment at Yiftach focuses on four cycles:

The personal cycle

Providing tools for internal perception that strengthens the sense of self competence, breaks the cycles of failure and creates a narrative of success.

The family cycle

Giving tools to both the teenager and parents for the purpose of renewed and better family integration. For the duration of the entire process the parents receive professional support that includes a parenting workshop, night meetings and private meetings with parents.

The social cycle

Strengthening social capacities that are needed for the purpose of successful integration into normative frameworks such as the army and the workplace. The social responsibility is manifested daily within the framework of tasks carried out in cooperation between the teenagers at risk and staff for maintenance (kitchen shifts, cleaning, gardening etc.) This breaks the egocentric/ survivalist cycles and develops the teenager’s ability to give trust, to see and take into account the needs of others.

The learning cycle

Yiftach is designated to enable students to achieve full high school diplomas, with an emphasis on the individual needs of each student. Learning in small groups of 5-6 students in a class enables the bridging of gaps and optimal acquisition of study skills that transforms the teenage student into an independent learner on his future path. The dynamic education also involves private lessons and many hours of learning reinforcement.

What is the format for success?

One of the reasons for Yiftach’s success is its creation of a supportive framework that continues after the conclusion of academic studies, which is intended to strengthen the sense of self-competence by means of significant achievement.

In the afternoons Yiftach runs diverse enrichment activities that demonstrate creative abilities within the framework of a number of courses of study: music, art, photography, drama and agricultural-ecological work with animals. Each course enables at least 6-8 weekly hours of classroom activity. The experience of achievement is strengthened by the instructors who are considered the best in their fields.

The evening hours are dedicated to the acquisition of social and interpersonal skills by means of comprehensible input-output activities and free time for personal activity in the sports facilities, youth club and the domains of the various courses.

Apart from all the routine schoolwork, for the duration of the year there are diverse social activities including a three week break outside the boarding school for consolidation, survival exercises and other missions. The social activities also include joint Shabbatot, day trips and planning group evenings.

Weekly activities – afternoons

Music
Music
Art
Art
Photography
Photography
Drama
Drama
Agricultural-Ecological Work with Animals
Agricultural-Ecological Work with Animals

Yearly Activities

Week of Consolidation

A week of activities that takes place at the beginning of the school year for the purpose of connecting and communicating between the teenagers. During the week all the students leave the school for various consolidation activities.

Survival Week

This week marks the height of the school year at Yiftach. The week progresses in the field in harsh conditions with backbreaking equipment. Groups consist of about 4 students who have to get from one point to another and make do for an entire week with the supplies in their backpacks. This week contributes greatly to the teenagers’ self-confidence.

Yearly Trip

The trip lasts 3-4 days and generally takes place in the middle of the year. It is full of attractions and activities such as a horseback riding, a jeep ride, hiking, rafting etc.

Week of Missions

Every class has ongoing missions. The purpose of this week is to get out of the routine and cope with various challenges that demand creativity, daring and mainly a lot of thought.

Graduation Trip

At the end of the year the 12th grade goes out on a trip, a meaningful experience that is part of the process of parting ways with the younger students at Yiftach.

Class Activities

– Group evenings including kumsitz hootenanny sessions, barbecues, night trips etc.

Day Trips Commemorating Special Events

External study days and trips on the Tenth of Tevet, Remembrance Day and Jerusalem Day. The objective is to enrich the students on the subjects that are relevant to the calendar.

Swimming Pool

Since we are in a very hot region we go out to a pool in the area once a week,  giving the teenagers a chance to air out.

These outings and breaks from the routine enable the gathering of renewed strength in preparation for the continuation of studies, and they are a necessary condition for the teenagers’ scholastic success. The activities outside of Yiftach also contribute a lot to the consolidation of the teenagers as a group and a sense of cohesion and family in the village.