Melitz was founded as a solution to an educational crisis which arose in the early ‘70s. The rapidly shifting global landscape and encroaching globalization awoke in young people worldwide questions and challenges of formerly fundamental assumptions. It was during this ideological turmoil that a group of Israeli high school students approaching their compulsory military enlistment wrote a letter to Prime Minister Golda Meir, posing the question of why they must put their lives on the line for the State of Israel. This led a shocked PM Meir to understand that solutions must be contemplated and enacted in response to this lack of knowledge regarding Judaism’s history and significance in terms of nationality (what we call Peoplehood), and the history of the Jewish connection to the land.
It is against this backdrop, that Avraham Infeld, one of those approached for solutions and a well- known innovative educator, created Melitz. His goal was to provide informal Jewish and Zionist identity education programs for Israeli high school students. Since its conception, Melitz has grown as a leader in the field of educational tools development, and a source of opportunity for Jews of all ages. It provides unique and diverse programs and training, with the goal of promoting a democratic Jewish Israel with strong connections to Jews around the globe.
Melitz’z achievements have been enabled through the generous support of many benefactors, and include:
- 1973 – Melitz (then, Mechonim), is founded by Avraham Infeld, with the goal of enabling young Israelis to grapple with the complex issues arising after several decades of living in the first sovereign Jewish state in 2,000 years.
- 1976 – Mechonim launches a series of national seminars on the topic of Jewish identity. Thousands of students nation- wide participate in these first stages.
- 1978 – Mechonim launches a nationwide training program for educators, to help shape the methods through which content of Jewish values and Zionism could effectively be transmitted within the Israeli school system.
- 1984 – Mechonim changes its name to Melitz and expands into Israel- Diaspora relations. Mifgashim is born- a program dedicated to providing meaningful encounters between Israeli and Diaspora teens, with more than 12,000 alumni to date.
- 1985 – The Student Authority, a joint framework financed by the Jewish Agency and Ministry of Absorption, commissions Melitz to develop and hold seminars for Jewish Ehtiopian immigrants. Agenda topics included the Meeting of Two Cultures, Unity and Diversity, and Democracy and Work as a Principle.
- 1988 – The Melitz Center for Christian Encounters is founded, dedicated to the representation of Israel, its people, religions and cultures to a wide range of non- Jewish audiences.
- 1989 – The Israel Experience Staff Training Institute is established. More than 600 graduates have gone on to help make Israel Experience Summer Programs meaningful for thousands of Diaspora teens.
- 1991 – Melitz is assigned the national role of providing Jewish identity programs for Israeli teens. Other mandates include: Jewish identity programs for teen immigrants from the Soviet Union, teaching training seminars for the Department of Enhancement of Jewish Education in Secular Schools, and staff training for the Tali Enhanced Jewish Study school throughout Israel.
- 1993 – Melitz develops its Peace Education curriculum, designed to promote peace education amongst young Israelis, on the basis of the Ministry of Education’s Think Tank on Peace Education.
- 1994 – Melitz partners with the Ministry of Education in a pilot program designed to curb the fast growing high school dropout rate of Soviet immigrant teens , through a series of seminars designed to create long- lasting connections between participants and Isralei society.
- 1995 – Melitz develops Between Person and Place, an environmental awareness program for Israeli sixth graders. The program is based on the belief that cultural content is the best way to promote and cultivate environmental awareness and activism.
- 1996 – Melitz publishes Zionism and the Test of Time,a book of texts and activities for study which analyze contemporary Israel in the context of collective Jewish history.
- 1997 – Melitz and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel develop and pilot a new and critical initiative: Human Rights from the Jewish and Western Perspectives. This ninth grade curriculum is designed to dispel the misconception that Judaism and democracy are two mutually exclusive systems.
- 1998 – Melitz develops Shutafim, a cooperative educational experience designed for the exploration of the Beit Shemesh/ Adulam region of Israel.
- 1998 – ECHO: Education, Culture, Heritage and Origins, catches wind and joins Melitz by offering organizing educational journeys into Jewish roots throughout Eastern Europe.
- 1999 – Human Rights in the Jewish and Western Traditions is successfully piloted throughout Israel junior high schools.
- 1999 – The new Shabbat Experience program for Russian immigrant families begins to reconnect new arrivals to Judaism and their heritage through experience based programs designed to provide education for the entire family unit.
- 2000 – Melitz’s work to meet newly surfacing needs finds expression in another new program of workshops throughout Israeli high schools, with teacher training,- “Assuring Active Citizenship and Equal Opportunity: Every Girl is Equal, Every Boy is Equal”.
- 2001 – Pre and post game programs for the Maccabiah Youth Games are provided by Melitz, including educational content, staff training and supervision.
- 2002 – Ta Shma merges with Melitz as the Department of Jewish Text Learning. Recognizing that two Jews have three opinions, Ta Shma offers multi- voiced Jewish learning platforms based on the concept of “Machloket”(disagreement), which emphasizes the importance of constructive disagreement.
- 2002 – Leadership programs are launched for immigrant university graduates, in order to begin establishing a cadre of information Jewish education facilitators from various backgrounds.
- 2002 – MelitzAmerica is launched- designed to bring Israel to Jewish American communities during the reduction in Israel travel during the Second Intifada.
- 2005 – Melitz pioneers Rav Siach- a program designed to bring together multi- denominational rabbinical students studying in Israel for a year.
- 2006 – Melitz moves into Beit Melitz, our specially built home in Kiryat Moriah.
- 2007 – Melitz produces its acclaimed Israel@60 kit to help Jewish communities in the diaspora enrich their celebrations of Israel’s independence.
- 2007 – Melitz runs workshops and tours for Jerusalem Police to promote multi- cultural awareness and sensitivity.
- 2008 – Melitz becomes the primary educational supplier to the World Zionist Organization’s Herzl museum, providing workshops, tours and other educational materials for visiting groups.
- 2008 – Melitz partners with Limmud FSU to create a two- day learning event for Russian speakers, with more than 1400 participants.
- 2010 – Melitz launches its own ten day Birthright Israel trip for young North Americans.
- 2014 – Melitz regroups after a period of organizational difficulty and begins operations as a startup.
- 2015 – Melitz opens the Melitz Forum to bring together former Melitz educators, and holds its first conference in Modiin.
- 2017 – Melitz publishes Melitz founder Avraham Infeld’s book “A Passion for A People”, with Clare Goldwater. Consequently, Melitz presents The 5 Legged Table project, based on Avraham Infeld’s educational approach.
- 2017 – Melitz starts planning programs for “Israel at 70”.
- 2018 – Melitz moves to a new location in Talpiot, Jerusalem and continues in its development of innovative educational tools.
- 2019 – Melitz pioneers the web base Sfat Am program, intended to provide Jewish educators from across the globe to meet for joint study sessions in the Hebrew language.