• 22 year old Natasha Stern grew up in Toronto, made Aliya 3 years ago and is now at the last stage of her military service in the education corps of the Israel Defence Forces.

    Last year she was presented with the Presidential Award of Excellence at the annual Independence Day ceremony at Beit Hanassi by Israeli President Shimon Peres, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defence Minister Ehud Barak.

    Natasha entered her military service as one of 35 young religious women participating in Midreshet Ein Hanatziv’s 3-year Maayan Program which combines intensive Judaic studies in the Beit Midrash with full service in the Educational branch of IDF.

    Upon completing their high school education, many young religious Israeli women seek ways to explore their Jewish identity so that they may learn to deal with the complexity of their lives as religious women who are active in Israeli society and in the modern world of today. Midreshet Ein Hanatziv provides a unique answer to these women by providing a wide range of challenging Jewish studies encouraging them to conduct a meaningful dialogue between the texts they study in the Beit Midrash and their daily life issues.

    Each student at Midreshet Ein Hanatziv is guided to discover and listen to her own unique voice within the broader fabric of the Jewish people. The Midrasha prepares its students towards their life as committed Jewish women who will go on to assume contemporary leadership roles in Jewish society based on a profound understanding of Jewish sources, ethics and values.

    Each year, among the 70 students of the Midrasha, 35 young women choose to combine their studies with full service in the army.

    The Ma’ayan Program engages participants in intensive Jewish studies and places them in key positions in the Educational Branch of the IDF.  While participants are active in their military service, their relationship with the Midrasha remains close through frequent trips back to Ein Hanatziv and twice weekly classes on their army base taught by visiting Midrasha staff.

    Maayan soldiers mainly teach soldiers from underprivileged backgrounds helping them to complete 11 years of formal education. A sub-group of Ma’ayan Program participants teach Judaic content and culture to new immigrants. in preparation for their conversion to Judaism.  These recent immigrants come from countries where they had very little exposure to Judaism.  The army’s Nativ Program provides them with a comprehensive understanding of Jewish life and an enriched Jewish identity and facilitates their integration into Israeli society.

    “I am fortunate to have joined the Midrasha at Ein Hanatziv”, says Natasha, “and to have had this wonderful opportunity of serving in the army and getting to know Am Yisrael. I feel totally at home here”.

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