In the early-1970s, young people all over the world were questioning heretofore unchallenged assumptions. In the context of those times, a group of Israeli high school students who were about to be drafted for their compulsory army service wrote a letter to then Prime Minister Golda Meir, asking why they were putting their lives on the line for the state of Israel. PM Meir, shocked by their lack of knowledge about Jewish historical connections to the people and land of Israel, approached Jewish educational leaders for solutions.
It is against this backdrop that Avraham Infeld, a well-known innovative educator, created Melitz to provide informal Jewish and Zionist identity education programs for high schools students. Since its inception, Melitz has since grown to be a leader in the development of educational tools and opportunities to Jews of all ages, providing unique and diverse programs and training, and promoting a democratic Jewish Israel with strong connections to Jews world-wide. Highlights of our achievements made possible through Melitz partners’ generous support include:
1973 – Melitz (then called Mechonim) is founded by Avraham Infeld with the goal of enabling young Israelis come to terms with the many complex issues involved in living in the first sovereign Jewish state in 2,000 years.
1976 – Melitz (still called Mechonim) launches a national program of Jewish identity seminars for students; thousands of students from across the country participate in the crucial programming.
1978 – Melitz (still called Mechonim) begins a nationwide teacher training program dedicated to promoting Jewish, Zionist values throughout the Israeli school system.
1984 – Melitz officially changes it name and begins working in the area of Israeli Diaspora relations. Specifically, Melitz creates Mifgashim, a program dedicated to providing meaningful, direct encounters for Israeli and Diaspora teens. Since its inception more than 12,000 teens have participated in this exciting, fun-filled program.
1985 – The Student Authority (a joint framework financed by the Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Absorption) commissions Melitz to develop and implement seminars for Ethiopian Jewish immigrants. Topics include: The Meeting of Two Cultures, Unity and Diversity; and Democracy and Work as a Principle.
1988 – The Melitz Center for Christian Encounters with Israel is established. The Center is dedicated to presenting Israel, its people, religions, and cultures to a wide variety of non-Jewish publics.
1989 – The Israel Experience Staff Training Institute is established. More than six hundred graduates have gone on to make participation in Israel Experience Summer Programs a deeply meaningful program for thousands of Diaspora teens.
1991 – Melitz is awarded the national tender for Jewish identity programming for Israeli teens. Other tenders include: Jewish identity programming for teenage olim from the Soviet Union, teacher training seminars for the Department of Enhancement of Jewish Education in Secular Schools, and staff training for the Tali schools throughout Israel.
1993 – Melitz develops the Peace Education curriculum, designed to educate young Israelis towards peace. The curriculum is based on Melitz’s participation in the Ministry of Education’s Think Tank on Peace Education.
1994 – In reaction to the alarming dropout rate among Russian immigrants, Melitz, together with the Ministry of Education, pilots dropout prevention seminars designed to connect Russian youth to Israeli society.
1995 – Melitz develops Between Person and Place, an environmental curriculum program for Israeli sixth grade students. The program is rooted in the belief that environmental awareness and activism are best cultivated through culturally based programming.
1996 – Melitz publishes Zionism and the Test of Time, a book of study texts and activities that analyze today’s Israel in the context of our collective history.
1997 – Melitz and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel develop and pilot our critical new initiative, Human Rights from the Jewish and Western Perspectives. This a ninth grade curriculum program, designed to dispel the widely held misperception that Judaism and democracy are mutually exclusive systems.
1998 – Melitz develops Shutafim, an exciting, new cooperative educational experience for the exploration of the Beit Shemesh/Adulam Region of Israel. ECHO: Education, Culture, Heritage, and Origins, joins Melitz. offering educational journeys for organized groups and individuals to explore their Jewish roots in numerous cities in Eastern Europe.
1999 – Human Rights in the Jewish and Western Traditions, a new Melitz program, was successfully piloted in junior high schools across Israel. The new Shabbat Experience for Russian Olim Families meets the challenge of re-connecting newly arrived families to Judaism and their own heritage through experience-based programming that is designed to provide family education for parents and their children.
2000 – “Assuring Active Citizenship and Equal Opportunity: Every Girl is Equal Every Boy is Equal” a new Melitz program developed to meet current needs becomes available as student workshops in Israeli high schools, and as a teacher training program for this year’s academic theme.
2001 – Melitz provides the educational content, staff training and supervision for the pre and post game programs for the Maccabiah Youth Games.
2002 – Ta Shma joins Melitz and becomes the department of Jewish text learning. Recognizing that two Jews always have (at least) three opinions Ta Shma offers a model of multi-voiced Jewish learning based on ‘Machloket’ (disagreement) that emphasizes the importance of constructive disagreement.
2002 – New educational leadership courses are launched for university graduate olim to establish a pilot cadre of top informal Jewish education facilitators from many backgrounds.
2002 – Melitz launches MelitzAmerica, a program designed to bring Israel to American Jewish communities whose travel to Israel has reduced during the intafada.
2005 – Melitz pioneers the Rav Siach programming bringing together Rabbinical Students from different denominations studying for a year in Israel.
2006 – Melitz moves into Beit Melitz, our new purpose-built home on the Kiryat Moriah campus.
2007 – Melitz produces its acclaimed Israel@60 kit to help Diaspora Jewish communities enrich their celebration of this important anniversary.
2007 – Melitz runs workshops and tours to promote multi-cultural awareness and sensitivity for the Police in Jerusalem.
2008 – Melitz becomes the primary educational supplier to the WZO’s Herzl museum providing workshops, tours and educational materials for visiting groups.
2008 – Melitz partners with Limmud FSU to create a two-day learning festival for Russian speakers. More than 1400 attended.
2010 – Melitz begins offering its own Birthright Israel trip whereby young Jewish adults from North America can join a free trip to Israel for 10-days
2014 – Melitz renews the lines after a period of Organizational difficulty. Melitz undergoes an organizational change and is starting to operate in a start-up mode.
2015 -Melitz opens the Melitz Forum – a forum that brings together the former Melitz educators and holds the first multi-participant conference in Modiin
2017 – Melitz publishes the book “A Passion for A People” by Melitz’s founder Avraham Infeld with Clare Goldwater. Melitz presents The 5 Legged Table project, based on the educational approach of Avraham Infeld
2017 – Melitz starts planning programs for “Israel at 70”
2018 – Melitz moves its new location in Talpiot, Jerusalem and continues to develop educational tools in an innovative spirit.