The religious movements at the Machon
From the very beginning of the Machon Lemadrichei Chutz La’Aretz, the youth movement of Bnei Akiva was one of the most prominent of movements in sending its representatives to the Machon. The first time that Bnei Akiva sent students to the Machon was on the 5th Machzor, in 1949 with 6 students, since then their numbers have just grown.
In the 1960’s the Bnei Akiva students were a quarter of the student force and following the Six Day War their numbers increased every machzor. This significant growth together with their ideological stand brought about a rift from the Machon and the idea of educating its youth in a completely religious atmosphere came about. Bnei Akiva was interested in guaranteeing the observance of Shabbat and the Jewish festivals during their year of education. In addition Torah and Halacha studies were emphasized as well as Jewish religious origins. In the light of these factors an alternative curriculum for Bnei Akiva was set up.
The year comprised of three major periods:
Three to four months of training in religious kibbutzim. During this period they would get to know the way of kibbutz life and would work in the various branches of the kibbutz.
Three months of study of Torah and Halacha in a Yeshiva for the boys, and an 'Ulpana' for the girls.
Three to four months on an instruction and leadership course at the Machon at Hizkiyahu St. Jerusalem.
In 1985 the Machon at Hizkiyahu St. in Katamon became the Religious Institute for Youth Training where the emphasis was on training youth so that they could work in Bnei Akiva in their countries of origin. Students pledged to return to their Jewish communities and work in the movement for a minimum, of two years.
Machon students were divided into classes according to their levels of Hebrew and many of the classes where held only in Hebrew.
Students of the religious Machon during the Gulf War of 1991
Another aspect of the curriculum at the Machon HaTorani was involvement in Israeli society. Students volunteered to work in non-profit charity organizations such as Yad Sarah, Akim, and hospitals, in addition there were meeting with Israeli youth on a regular basis and visits for hospitality of Israel families for Shabbat and the Jewish holidays.
In the early 1990s, after the disbanding of the Soviet Union, the religious Institute trained instructors from Russia and Hungary in order to assimilate them into Israeli society.
The Machzor from Eastern Europe
With the ardent desire to train all Jewish youth of the movements together Bnei Akiva once again returned to the Institute for Youth Leaders from Abroad. Among the sections that now operate within the framework of the Machon there is a program that is designed especially for the needs of the movement of Torah VeAvodah (Torah and Work – the slogan of Bnei Akiva)