About Us

The Upper Galilee Leadership Academy (TUGLA)

The Upper Galilee Leadership Academy, TUGLA, was established in 1998, initially in Kibbutz Ma'ayan Baruch, a settlement located on the border fence of the State of Israel with Lebanon, according to the vision of the Upper Galilee Regional Council, with the aim of growing connected and committed citizens who see themselves as a significant part of society and who have the ability to influence its design. Every year, we direct our graduates to take on national tasks and challenges in the fields of security, society, education and more.

The need to establish such programs is evident following the social crisis in Israel, which occurred after the assassination of our Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, the late. The creators of the program saw before their eyes the building of a young, worthy, and valuable future leadership from the Israeli society and the Jewish people, who would lead our country to become a better state.

You are invited to watch a video describing the establishment of the program, featuring Aharon Valancy, the former head of the Upper Galilee Regional Council and Yossi Baruch, the founder and head for the first 22 years of the Mechina:

Organizational Development

We started our journey in 1998 with 21 participants. During the years since then, we have established 3 annual Mechina programs throughout the Galilee, in Kibbutz Kfar Hanasi, Baram, and Amir, and an additional six-month mixed leadership program for international and Israeli participants, which operates also in Kibbutz Amir. Today, these programs have a total of 300 participants.

All our groups are mixed and heterogeneous, they are made up of excellent high school graduates from all over the country, including those with special needs, along with 50 international participants, who join the program from the Jewish communities living abroad.

This is a highly sought-after unique educational framework that invites the youth, who have completed 12th grade, a rare opportunity to take a one-year "time-out" from the crazy race of life, with the aim of consolidating their personality, enhancing their abilities to be significant people to their environment, and general self-improvement.

At the same time and in addition to the unique one-year educational project of the "Year-long Mechina," we continuously work to maintain the connection and communication with our 2,500 graduates, both throughout their military service and in their lives beyond, while involving them in every matter and thing.

TUGLA operates according to an annual and multi-year plan and is always developing, growing, and building new challenges, both in the physical sense of building a permanent campus and establishing the network of activities that exist in the various contexts, the emergence of new frameworks, including the establishment of a relevant and supportive alumni organization.

The establishment of the Mechina in Ma'ayan Baruch with 20 participants, in a year-long program aimed at social, community and military leadership.
Increasing the group to 30 participants, connecting to involvement centers throughout the Galilee, expanding the activity to Jews in the Diaspora.
Increasing the group to 40 participants, sending a delegation of 8 Mechina graduates to summer camps in Canada.
Establishing a Mechina alumni network, initiating 3 annual educational projects with approximately 600 11th - 12th grade students from across the country.
Development of young community leadership projects in Kiryat Shmona and Hazor. Initiate educational value-driven activities with new immigrants.
Increasing the delegation of Mechina participants to camps in Canada to 11 graduates. Initiating 3 leadership programs with high schools in Israel.
Development of a support system for alumni across the country. A series of meetings with Arab and Druze youth from the Haifa area.
Development of a support system for alumni across the country. A series of meetings with Arab and Druze youth from the Haifa area.
Seminars initiatives on democracy, Jewish identity, and Zionism with about 500 12th graders from various schools all over the country.
Establishing a second Mechina group with 40 participants in Kfar Hanasi and stabilizing a framework of 100 participants in total at the two centers.
Establishing a local youth leadership development project in Safed, initiating a project with high school students from a school in San Francisco.
Establishing a joint Beit Midrash with 5 Mechina frameworks from religious and secular backgrounds, on Zionism and Israeli society.
Integration into the protection and guarding system of agricultural areas in the Galilee, in cooperation with Mishmar G'vul.
Mobilization to help the southern settlements during and after the operation in Gaza, both the adult population and children.
Collaboration with the Jewish Agency in the project of sending Mechina graduates to Jewish summer camps in North America.
Establishing a Northern Mechinot leadership group, based on representatives of 10 Mechinot and having a joint annual action plan.
Establishing a third Mechina group in Kibbutz Bar'am and increasing to a total of 140 participants. Establishing a national alumni organization.
Entering new ventures: participants with disabilities, participants from the Ethiopian community, pluralistic Judaism, and more.
Establishment of a six-month leadership program in Einot Yarden. The establishment of 2 frameworks in the Galilee for education and agriculture. Increasing the exposure of the Mechina for Diaspora Judaism with 11 international participants.
Establishing Mechina administration and adapting it to the increase in the number of groups and participants. Establishing a young community in the Galilee. 15 Jewish students from abroad in the preparatory program.
Strengthening the relationship with the diaspora and with 20 international participants. 160 total participants, 35% of the graduates become commanders in the IDF
Establishment of six-month programs in Kibbutz Amir and Karmiel, growing to 220 overall participants, 40 being international. Establishment of a valuable summer program called "Camp Hagshama – Hamatzpan" for youth.
Increasing our six-month program internationally, increasing to 240 total participants, establishing an array of field coordinators (workout training, studies, community involvement), establishing a permanent campus for the Mechina in Kibbutz Amir.

Leading Values


An organization that affects the environment, volunteers, and constantly works to improve society.


TUGLA has a board of directors headed by Mr. Uzi Yamin, the father of one of our Alumni, and its members are Ms. Zohara Dagan and Ms. Anat Levy - senior managers in the Upper Galilee Regional Council.

The association has a general assembly consisting of the head of the Upper Galilee Regional Council Mr. Giora Zaltz, members of the regional council, representatives of the host kibbutzim, educators and graduates of the preparatory school.

Action Plan

We work according to a comprehensive annual and multi-year plan and according to defined goals aimed at the continuous improvement of the educational program and our relevance to the Galilee environment and impact on Israeli society.

Fields of Action on Which Our Agenda and Annual Plan Are Built

  1. Learning in the Mechina and outside of it, which comes from a desire to deepen and expand knowledge and consciousness, to shape our identity as people, as Jews, as Israelis, and Zionists, and to act in a proper and non-stereotyped manner.
  2. Significant meetings with different populations, with the aim of getting an in-depth understanding of Israeli society and the Jewish people.
  3. Outdoor activities, in order to get to know and connect with the landscapes of our country, learn to travel and navigate, and acquire self-confidence and necessary skills.
  4. Community service, which expresses one of our central values: caring for others. In addition, it gives Mechina participants an opportunity to get to know and learn about Israeli society and practice giving.
  5. Meaningful military service preparation, in order to maintain a strong and valuable army and to ensure quality commanders and officers.
  6. Activity with international Jewish communities, with the aim of learning about and getting to know the people, and understanding the importance of Diaspora Judaism and the relationship with it.
  7. Diverse activities that express the management and responsibility of the participants for the general conduct of the Mechina and for all tasks.

Methods of Operation

  • The groups consist of a heterogeneous population from all over the country, from a variety of town sizes and types, value concepts and with many personal and Jewish identity definitions.
  • Action as part of a very intensive program, which is spread over all hours of the day and week.
  • An experience that combines a wide variety of activities, with the connecting factor between them all being the Mechina participant and the group.
  • The program emphasizes cultivating a learning and thinking person who communicates with his or her environment and works for its benefit- the program includes: diverse and in-depth learning, community involvement, acquiring skills and practicing, performing and leading tasks, getting to know the landscapes of the country and its diverse population, meeting with people from abroad and more. All this in order to expose the Mechina participants to a variety of world views and experiences to help build their own identities. At the heart of the program is the personal process that each participant goes through, and a lot of time is devoted to personal conversations, setting goals and achieving them, as well as reflection for the participant himself/herself.
  • Community involvement is a very significant element in the existence of the Mechina in that it brings to the fore a practical and valuable expression and the responsibility for the society in which we live. During the year the participants are integrated into individual and group engagement circles in various frameworks in the region.
  • Full sharing and transparency between the adult staff and the participantsin all administrative and behavioral aspects of the place.
  • An uncompromising demand from the participants to take responsibility for themselves, the society, and the environmentboth in the Mechina routine and in the tasks.
  • Placing the value of the participants' coping as a central motif, as individuals and as a group, a motif that is, in our opinion, a key condition for the growth and development of the participants during the year (as opposed to the natural tendency to give up on oneself, especially in crisis situations).