The natural essence of a person is a combination of the spiritual and physical. A person’s psyche naturally adapts to the world according to the laws of natural selection. The spiritual soul transcends natural selection and directs a person towards a goal that is beyond the limits of their egocentric physical reality.
Integration of at-risk youth into Israeli society can best be achieved through self-empowerment and by strengthening their sense of national and communal belonging by engaging in three key areas: mind, body, and soul.
- To develop each individual’s awareness of their own physical and spiritual strengths.
- To develop each individual’s ability to recognize the physical and spiritual strengths of other people.
- To teach skills that enable these strengths to be exercised in a positive way.
- To teach skills that enable the individual to choose his or her path according to the insights described in Objectives 1-3.
- Empower and nurture students’ strengths and improve their self-image.
- Improve learning skills and educational integration.
- Improve economic security.
- Strengthen sense of belonging with one’s community and connection with one’s roots.
The MAGEN program is beginning its third year of activity as a pioneering program for social-emotional learning in the Israeli education system. The program is designed for students in grades 7 through 12 who require socio-emotional assistance beyond what formal schools have the means to provide. MAGEN students experience a program that addresses their mind, body, and soul, and offers intensive training to enable them to function optimally within and outside of the school setting.
- Individual meetings with a MAGEN counselor, a professional in the field of informal education who are closely supervised by Dr. Simcha Chesner, a clinical psychologist and founder of the holistic youth program.
- Liaison between MAGEN instructors and the school's educational and therapeutic staff, in order to enhance students’ functioning within the school framework.
- Group meetings on "identity formation." Students participate in a series of sessions during which they are exposed to role models and introduced to insights geared towards developing a healthy and stable personal identity.
- Identification and development of students’ individual strengths. The participant, together with the instructor, identifies an area of strength and receives training, enrichment, and practice in this area through weekly meetings with experts in the relevant field. Areas in which MAGEN students will participate this year include soccer, athletics, off-road cycling, dance, cooking, and art.
- Developing opportunities for beneficial employment. Through partnership with business owners in the Ma'ale Adumim region, MAGEN students over 16 years of age are provided with work opportunities in order to help them financially, under reasonable conditions that do not impair their ability to function as students. In addition, MAGEN students attend seminars and workshops on essential skills to help them succeed in employment and financial management.
In the past year, MAGEN established a “social restaurant” setting and sold food at public events to help fund program activities and allow trainees to earn a salary as they learn the basics of business management.
- Youth leadership – MAGEN students in grades 10-12 participate in the program's training by acting as mentors for the younger, middle-school groups, working in partnership with the program’s educational and care staff.
- MAGEN Alumni – We at MAGEN continue to accompany program graduates in their pre-military preparatory programs and their subsequent military service. During the preparatory program, we provide monthly scholarships to graduates of MAGEN for the entire period.
- Training workshops for parents of program participants and guidance for families in need, new citizens, immigrants, etc.
- Chesner and the MAGEN staff offer workshops and training on the topic of social-emotional learning using the MAGEN method to school staff members, by request of the principal.
MAGEN’s Unique Approach
MAGEN is a holistic program that addresses the child as an individual and also provides services to the entire school and community environment. The MAGEN program provides solutions for teachers, parents, and children to work together, using a common language, that empowers the student spiritually and offers a path towards achievement and excellence, rather than one of risk.
All activities of MAGEN are conducted under the professional supervision of Dr. Simcha Chesner, a clinical psychologist and the founder of the program.