Rabbi Moshe Hager, who chairs the Council of Pre-Military Academies, expressed pride on Friday at the growth of the number of pre-military academies, calling the growth an indication of the quality of Israel's youth. Interviewed by Arutz Sheva's Hebrew service, ahead of a day of intellectual and physical activities by 400 academy students, Rabbi Hager recalled how the first religious academy was set up in the Binyamin-region community of Eli 25 years ago, followed, eight years later, by the first secular academy in Kibbutz Nachshon, west of Jerusalem. Since then, the ranks have grown to 23 secular academies and 19 religious academies, with 2,400 students in each cycle split evenly between the two tracks.
The curriculum is devoted to deepening Jewish-Zionist identity, looking at the subjects of society and the state, Zionism and democracy, love of the people and the country, and cultivating loyalty and total commitment. Some of the academies incorporate some community volunteer work with the local population. Rabbi Hager said there are also joint activities involving the religious and secular academies.