Application & Acceptance

  • How long is the program and when does it start/end?

    The next Year Course program will begin on September 3rd, 2018 and end on May 26th, 2019.

  • What is the application process?

    The Year Course application is similar to a college application. We request an official high school transcript, an autobiographical essay, and two letters of recommendation. The application can be completed online here.

  • What is the application deadline?

    Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until July 1, 2018. Applications received late in the season may impact notification of your admissions status, and may make it difficult to accommodate participants’ requests regarding section and volunteer placements, etc.

  • Are most people who apply accepted?

    Yes. Our goal is to accept as many people as possible, as long as they meet the acceptance criteria. We do everything we can during the application process to ascertain that the applicant and the Year Course program are right for each other.

  • What are the criteria for acceptance?

    We are looking for students who show that they are very interested in the benefits Year Course has to offer, and who will be able to contribute in a positive manner to the group.

  • When do I find out about acceptance?

    Candidates with complete applications will be interviewed and then will be notified regarding their acceptance.

  • Is there a minimum GPA for acceptance to Year Course?

    In order to be eligible to receive credits for studies on Year Course through American Jewish University, applicants must have a high school GPA of 3.0 or higher.  Attendance and active participation in classes on Year Course is mandatory, even for those taking classes on a not-for-credit basis.

  • Does everyone get the section they want? When will I find out what section I am in?

    The two sections of Year Course are made up of the same components— Jerusalem, Tel Aviv-Yafo, and Israel Experience and Special Interest Month. Young Judaea makes the best effort to accommodate all section requests, but reserves the right to make individual placements based on availability and other factors. Section announcements generally occur in June.

  • I am an Israeli citizen. Can my teen go on the program without getting drafted by the Israeli Army?

    Yes, previous participants in this situation have done so by contacting the local Israeli consulate and requesting a yearlong deferral from the army. (Find your local consulate by visiting

    If a Year Course participant has Israeli citizenship, it is essential that s/he obtain the yearlong deferment from military service as well as a valid Israeli passport prior to departure. Israeli citizens should be aware that they cannot stay in the country for more than 12 months without endangering their future immigrant rights if they choose to move to Israel. Compliance with applicable laws is the responsibility of the participant. Year Course cannot accept responsibility for the sufficiency of this information or its applicability in any particular situation.

  • Is there someone in my area who has been on the program that my teen can call?

    Yes, please contact Emily Odesser in our Israel office directly and she will put you in touch with an alum in your area.

  • When will I find out who the other participants are?

    We will set up Facebook groups before Year Course begins so that you can meet other participants and begin to chat. In some areas, we also host send-off events where participants can meet each other.

  • Is Year Course supportive of the LGBTQ community?

    Yes. Young Judaea prides itself on a founding principal of pluralism and strives to be a safe and welcoming place for all students regardless of sexual or gender orientation.  In any give year we have students and staff who identify passively or actively with the LGBTQ community.

  • Is Year Course able to accommodate participants with physical disabilities?

    Year Course is committed to balancing our desire to accommodate all eligible students with an honest assessment of reasonable accommodations.  We approach physical challenges on a case by case basis, discussing the potential challenges and available accommodations with the family so that we can make the best decision together.


  • What is included in the cost of Year Course?

    Included in the Year Course cost are accommodations, meals, medical care, academic courses, and field trips. Additional fees for specialty tracks include all of the enrichment activities throughout the year, including workshops, excursions and courses, specialty staff and teachers. The additional cost for Olami includes round trip airfare between Tel Aviv and each of the Olami track destinations, accommodations and meals in each country, and preparatory weekend seminars prior to each trip.

  • Are scholarships available? How do I apply?

    Yes, thanks to Hadassah, limited scholarship money is available. In order to be eligible, you must submit a separate scholarship application by the deadline. For more information about Hadassah Scholarships, contact We encourage you to contact your local Jewish Federation, synagogue, and any other local organizations (including non-Jewish ones) for additional scholarship opportunities. Visit our scholarship page for more information.

  • Can I pay by credit card?

    Yes, we accept Visa or MasterCard

  • I can’t afford to pay by the deadlines. Can I pay in installments?

    Yes, we do make arrangements for payment plans when absolutely necessary. You may contact the Year Course Registrar at to discuss payment options.

  • If I pay the $100 non-refundable deposit now but can’t get enough scholarship, will it be refunded?

    No. The $100 deposit covers the administrative costs of processing one’s application and is non-refundable.

  • If the program is cancelled mid-year, is the tuition refundable?

    Year Course has been offered every year since 1956 and has never been cancelled. We will make fair and equitable decisions in the very unlikely event that Young Judaea should decide that it is necessary to cancel the program once it has commenced.

  • If my child leaves mid-year, do I get a refund?

    Tuition reimbursement depends on the date your child leaves and the reason for leaving. Should this happen, we will discuss what can be done financially.

College Credit

  • Can my teen earn college credit while on Year Course?

    Yes. Most Year Course participants have the opportunity to earn up to a year’s worth of college credits. The academic program is supervised by American Jewish University (AJU) and accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. All Year Course applicants must submit an official high school transcript as part of their Year Course application. The minimum GPA required for eligibility to earn credits on Year Course is 3.0. Acceptance to Year Course is not based on acceptance to AJU in Israel. One can participate in Year Course without earning credits.

  • Are the credits transferable to a college here in the US?

    This depends on the college that the student attends after Year Course. Many Year Course participants have been able to transfer some or all of the credits received while on Year Course. Applicants should check with each university to which they are applying and ask what their policy is. Applicants can show the universities the academic course descriptions located on the Year Course website.

  • Should I apply to college before going on Year Course?

    We advise that Year Course participants apply to college while in their senior year of high school and request to defer admission for one year. Many universities are more than happy to do this but applicants are responsible to check with the school to see what the policy is. Some universities will not allow credit to be transferred if it is earned during a “deferred” year. In this case, the applicant can often reapply while in Israel in order to get the maximum transferred credit possible.

  • Can my teen apply to college while on Year Course?

    Yes. There are a few participants who apply to college while on Year Course. Our staff is more than happy to help and will write letters of recommendation if asked.

  • Do participants fulfill any freshman requirements (science, math) while on Year Course?

    Year Course does not offer the opportunity to take science or math courses because there is not enough time in the program. However, most schools have a language requirement and everyone on Year Course studies Hebrew. In addition, many of our courses might fulfill electives in the History and Philosophy departments in a liberal arts program and/or a humanities or general breadth requirement. See our course descriptions and syllabi for more details about our courses.

Year Course Academic Program

  • What types of courses are offered?

    We offer courses in the areas of Hebrew language study, history, literature, philosophy, and political science.

  • How much time is spent studying Hebrew?

    Hebrew plays an important part throughout the year. Intense daily Ulpan (Hebrew Study) occurs in Jerusalem. There are many additional opportunities during Year Course for participants to hone their Hebrew skills. Living, volunteering, and exploring constantly surrounded by Israelis is the best way to pick up Hebrew conversational skills. Many participants come away from the program speaking Hebrew (even those who entered knowing little or no Hebrew).

  • My teen has a learning disability. Will this be a problem? Is there staff that can help him/her?

    Every year there are participants on the program who have learning disabilities. Your teen needs to request extra help when needed and inform the Education Director and instructors of particular issues. Your teen should submit his/her IEP or 504 plan as part of the application so our Education Team in Israel can have the proper information. Our staff may be able to work with your teen to help him/her succeed in the academic program. However, your teen must take initiative and make every effort.

  • My teen has a learning disability and his/her grades are not very good. Does this mean that he/she would not be accepted?

    When we review an application, we are looking to get to know the applicant as a whole. If there is a specific reason why your teen has a low GPA, he/she should write about this in his/her essay, or attach a special letter explaining his/her grades. We do need to make sure that he/she would be able to handle the academic program, but we would not necessarily reject any student solely on the basis grades. If your teen is planning on taking classes for credit, he/she must have a minimum 3.0 GPA.

  • My teen has a day school background. Will he/she be bored in your academic program?

    Most courses are sectioned according to the background of the students. Therefore, your teen should find the courses adequately challenging. We have also made special arrangements in the past for students who are proficient enough in Hebrew that they are above the level of our Ulpan. All students are tested in Hebrew and their knowledge of Zionism when they arrive in Israel. At that time it will be determined if your teen requires a special framework for Hebrew classes and any specific placement for the Zionism course.

  • Is there free time during Year Course?

    Yes. Most weekends are free and we encourage students to travel throughout Israel during this time. Members of the Year Course staff are available to help students plan their trips as well as set them up with adoptive families, if requested. At various points throughout the year, travel during weekends may be limited (while on Marva, for example). Also, on a daily basis, if someone is not working or in class, students are free to go out. There are also two vacations during Year Course, one in December and one during Passover.

  • Is Marva really the Army?

    No. Marva is not considered to be army service. Marva is a program sponsored by the Israeli Army and the Jewish Agency for Israel that consists of two months of advanced gadna (a simulated basic-training program run by the education branch of the IDF). Some components of Marva include: hikes, marches, navigation, weapons training, simulated combat conditions, and studying the history of the IDF.

Housing and Observance

  • What is the housing like throughout the year?

    Living with roommates will be a new experience for many Year Course chanichim (participants).  This will help each student develop life skills that will serve him/her well in Israel and in life.  In Tel Aviv-Yafo, most of our students and participants live together under one roof in a co-op style dorm living arrangement. The center includes common areas for socializing and educational activities, and a large space for guest lectures. There are fully-equipped communal kitchens on each floor, a rooftop garden to hang out and relax and a laundry room. In Jerusalem, participants live in apartment-like suites at Beit Ar-El, Young Judaea's campus in the Baka neighborhood. These apartments come with fully furnished bedrooms, kitchen, sitting and eating areas. Beit Ar-El is also the central spot for all Jerusalem activities and classes creating a college-campus feeling. Each room and apartment in both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv-Yafo has its own bathroom and shower.

  • I am religiously observant. Will this program meet my needs?

    Young Judaea is a pluralistic youth movement and that philosophy holds true for all Year Course selections.  Though we do not conduct t'fillot there are plenty of local synagogues.  In some years, participants have organized daily t'fillot on their own.  All Year Course sponsored activities are Shomer Shabbat.

  • Does the program observe kosher dietary laws?

    Any food served in public forums by the program is strictly kosher. Participants’ suites and apartments are kosher. When participants are out on their own, kosher dietary laws are not enforced.

  • I am a vegetarian/vegan. Will that be a problem?

    Israel is a great place for vegetarians/vegans because there is a large variety of food available. If possible, we will try to place vegetarian students in the same apartment, to make things easier for you.


  • What type or insurance coverage will my teen receive on Year Course?

    Medical services and insurance coverage for certain illnesses and injuries while in Israel (and abroad on an Olami trip) on Year Course are provided by Harel Insurance Company, the leading health and traveling insurance company in Israel. Insurance fees are included in the program tuition. There is no coverage for pre-existing conditions, but there is coverage for the worsening of some pre-existing conditions. Doctors affiliated with the Harel plan are located throughout Israel, and participants can easily arrange to see one, no matter where they are located at the time. Emergency medical coverage is provided through HareI on Olami trips. Further details regarding health coverage (including differences in coverage provided in Israel and provided on the Olami trips) will be provided during the application process and include information about vaccinations that are or may be required prior to participation on Olami. Due to the limited nature of Harel coverage, all Year Course participants are required to have additional personal medical coverage for the duration of the program.

  • What happens if my teen gets sick during Year Course?

    If your teen becomes ill, it is important that he/she takes the initiative to let the madrich/a (group leader) know. If your teen would like to see a doctor, the madrich/a will help him/her to arrange an appointment. In most instances, the medical coverage Year Course provides will cover all doctor visits (as long as proper procedure is followed—it works similar to an HMO in the US). Some illnesses (i.e. pre-existing ones) and tests may not be covered by the health insurance provider, which is why Year Course requires that participants maintain personal medical insurance while on Year Course.

  • My teen has Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and is on medication. Will he/she be able to get it in Israel?

    If possible, your teen should bring a year’s supply of medication to Israel. If it’s not possible to fill a year’s supply in advance, your teen will need to bring a prescription from his/her doctor, including the generic name of the drug. Your teen will then need to see a doctor in Israel to get a prescription that will be honored by Israeli pharmacies. It is important to note that the cost will not be covered by the Year Course insurance, therefore, students will need to be prepared to pay. Alternatively, if friends or family are planning on visiting during the year, they can bring refills of the prescription with them. Participants or parents should check with their physician and insurance company in regard to specific drugs available in Israel.

  • My teen plans to wean himself/herself off his/her medication in the summer before Year Course. If he/she needs new medicine in Israel, will someone be able to prescribe them?

    Year Course is NOT the appropriate venue to experiment with a medical regimen. Students taking medication for any number of physical or mental health issues should maintain the same medical regimen while on Year Course. Year Course works with several psychiatrists who can meet with students and evaluate their medical regimen, prescribe new medicine or refills for existing medicine. Psychiatric visits are not covered by Year Course insurance, therefore, your teen will need to be prepared to pay at the time of the visit.

  • What if my child has an allergy?

    Our participants generally know how to deal with their specific allergies. That being said, we do have medical coverage and a staff that can assist your child with any allergy needs.

Safety and Supervision

  • What kind of supervision is there during the year?

    Each Year Course location is staffed with 2 madrichim (group leaders), who are in ongoing contact with the chanichim (participants). Madrichim may be Americans, British nationals or Israelis. Israeli madrichim have completed their military service.

    The madrichim are supervised by mekashrim (section heads) throughout the program. These mekashrim are a part of the senior staff of Year Course. The senior staff is based at Beit Ar-El in Jerusalem or at Young Judaea’s office in Tel Aviv, and frequently visit the students located in other locations. There are two Parent Liaisons, each tasked with serving as the point person for communication with parents about any issues of concern.

  • What happens during free time? Is staff available just in case?

    During free weekends and vacations, there is always a staff member on call. Also, at the beginning of the year, all participants receive materials with the emergency contact information for staff members and are told how to reach a staff person in an emergency.

  • With the constantly changing situation in Israel, what kind of precautions do you take to make sure the kids are safe?

    The safety and security of Year Course participants is our primary concern. Young Judaea has a designated security officer and committee that constantly review and update our security procedures. We retain as consultant the head of security of the Israeli Society for the Protection of Nature – the agency responsible for field trips throughout the country. That consultant is in daily contact with all of Israel’s security services. We also receive, in real time, all security alerts posted by the Security Department of Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) and its subsidiary company, The Israel Experience. Young Judaea may at times take security measures which are in advance of and/or exceed those recommended by JAFI or the Israeli security authorities.

  • Are participants allowed to use public transportation?

    Year Course participants are allowed to use public transportation within the current year’s security guidelines. However, we reserve the right to restrict travel if the security situation warrants it.

  • Are participants allowed to go to the Old City in Jerusalem? The West Bank?

    In general, Year Course participants are allowed to go to the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. They are not allowed to enter the West Bank without permission of the director of Year Course AND parental consent communicated to the YC Director no less than 48 hours before the expected travel (subject to change depending on the security situation). Participants are not allowed to enter the Gaza Strip or any areas within the West Bank under Palestinian Authority control.

  • What is your policy on drug use and drinking?

    We have a zero tolerance policy to drugs, including both the misuse of prescription drugs as well as the use of illegal drugs. Our participants are legally allowed to drink alcohol, assuming they are over 18, and we continuously educate about responsible drinking. We expect our students to act responsibly and deal with the misuse of alcohol if the need arises.

Money and Communication

  • How much spending money do you recommend?

    We recommend bringing between $3,500 and $4,500 for personal expenses. Olami participants may want to bring more for their international travel journeys.

  • What is the best way to send money?

    We recommend that your child obtain a debit card through the bank that you regularly use, and a credit card for emergencies. Participants will be able to withdraw money from ATMs around Israel, and charge items to the card. Additionally, parents can load money to the card and manage the account online.

  • Do the kids have cell phones? Access to e-mail? Fax? What is the best way to reach my teen while in Israel?

    Cell phones are mandatory for all Year Course participants. All Year Course apartments are equipped with Internet access. At Beit Ar-El in Jerusalem, Internet is available not only in each participant suite, but also on public computers throughout the campus. Some sites—such as Marva—do not have internet access. Feedback we’ve received from parents indicates that cell phones and Skype are the most common ways to stay in touch. Year Course participants love getting mail. Even if you are emailing and calling, they miss getting mail. You can also send faxes to Beit Ar-El in Jerusalem and to the Year Course office in Tel Aviv. Faxes will be delivered as mail and brought to the other Year Course sites every week. There is a fee to receive faxes.

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