- time Recent High School Graduates: 17-19 Years Old
- location Tel Aviv-Yafo and Jerusalem
- duration Nine Months
The best way to understand Israel’s diverse history, culture and geography is to live like a real local on our Israel gap year. The Year Course experience is fostered by the time participants spend volunteering, learning and speaking Hebrew, traveling all over the country, and living with fellow participants. Instead of seeing Israel through the windows of a tour bus, Year Course participants become intimately involved with Israeli communities and develop deep understandings of what it means to live in Israel.
In addition, there are weekly kvutzah (group) meetings run by madrichim (counselors), weekly siyurim (excursions), and free evenings and weekends during which chanichim are encouraged to explore on their own. Between the components of our program and the many opportunities to travel on your own, you’ll quickly to get feel like a local!
Year Course’s unique format allows our participants to experience Israel in 3 distinct ways. Their year is split into three unique experiences:
- Four months will be spent in the historic city of Jerusalem as part of the Machon l’Madrichei Chul, on an academic track that involves both formal and informal education, including an option to earn up to 30 college credits.
- Four months will be based in Tel Aviv-Yafo, where participants choose between a variety of volunteering options: some special experiences include a two-month Marva experience training with the Israeli Defense Forces and volunteering with MDA (Magen David Adom).
- Adventure Month which takes place mid-way through the year, offering more than 20 unique ways to explore Israel.
The Year Course cohort is split into 2 sections: Yama and Kedma. One section will start their program in Jerusalem, while the other section will start in Tel aviv-Yafo. After winter break the two sections switch places, so all participants will experience both cities for the ultimate Israel gap year. Check out our Facebook and Instagram to see what we’re up to right now!
Chanichim choose from a broad variety of volunteer options, each providing an opportunity to delve into a different aspect of Israeli life. Options vary according to availability and include, but are not limited to: Magen David Adom (Israel’s ambulance service), Marva (an Israeli army program), living and volunteering at a Youth Village, working with disadvantaged children, volunteering in soup kitchens, assisting in senior citizen homes and helping with environmental efforts. A tremendous amount of initiative and maturity is needed to make the most of volunteer placements. Volunteer placements give participants the chance to create relationships with those they are helping and these relationships often remain strong even after Year Course ends. The effort made by the individual chanich dictates the impact s/he has on the community and the relationships s/he develops. Please note that the Year Course staff reserves the right to place you in the experience for which they feel you are best suited, based on availability and your performance during the Program.
Marva is an additional cost that Year Course is happy to absorb, and there is no additional charge to the participants. Due to past experience, however, we require a $1000 deposit from each participant who participates in the Marva program. This deposit will be refunded in full upon graduation from the Marva program, providing students return all equipment to the army. Those students who do not graduate from the Marva program may be entitled to a partial refund of the deposit.
Marva in the second semester usually conflicts with the Tikkun Olam Rwanda trip.
Year Course participants take college-level classes through the American Jewish University’s College in Israel (AJUCI) program. AJU is located in Los Angeles, CA and is a fully accredited university through the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). The Jerusalem semester is the primary academic semester and includes Hebrew language ulpan designed to facilitate access to traditional Jewish texts and contemporary Israeli society alike. Additionally, participants have both required and optional electives available to them during the Jerusalem semester. Students beginning the year in Tel Aviv-Yafo will have Ulpan at the beginning of the year. Chanichim may choose to take their classes either for credit (assuming they meet the academic requirements established by AJU) or to audit their classes. Year Course faculty members are experienced and successful teachers in their fields and are selected for their teaching excellence. Year Course classes strike a delicate balance between the warm, personal approach of a small program and the stringent standards of university-level courses. Teachers are easily approachable and eager to make learning meaningful for all participants. Full attendance, participation, homework, essays and exams are requirements for the study period. Upon completion of the Program, all participants who have been accepted to American Jewish University’s College in Israel (see “The American Jewish University” section below) and who have officially registered to take their courses for credit are eligible to receive an official transcript from American Jewish University reflecting up to a year’s worth of college credit. Participants who participate in Academic Seminars during Adventure Month, or in Olami, Kuma, Tikkun Olam Rwanda or certain Specialty Tracks may be able to earn more than the 25-27 credits that are available during the year.
Siyurim (Field Trips)
Some of the true highlights of Year Course are the weekly siyurim (field trips) which take chanichim all over the country. Siyurim are offered for optional academic credit in Jerusalem. Both optional and mandatory Siyurim are provided throughout the year. In addition, participants are encouraged to explore the beauty and variety of Israel’s natural resources in their free time.
Seminars will take place throughout the year in conjunction with the educational Program. Throughout the year, there will also be special events such as Orientation, Tiyulim, the Tsofim (Israeli Scouts) Weekend, Kuma (journey to Poland), various MASA-organized events, and Sikkum (the closing seminar of the Program). Events organized by our partner organizations (MASA, Tzofim) often include a small fee to the participant.
Where You’ll Live
At the beginning of their time in each city, chanichim are oriented to the community, local shopping establishments, bus routes and other relevant information about the neighborhood.
Tel Aviv – Yafo
Israel’s cultural capital, Tel Aviv-Yafo is the heartbeat of modern Israel, home to hi-tech, music and theater, incredible food, beautiful beaches, and some of the most important sites in modern Israeli history.
In Tel Aviv-Yafo, most of our students and participants live together under one roof in a co-op style dorm living arrangement on Beit Hillel Street, located in the city’s central Montefiore neighborhood. Participants live in single-sex rooms, and enjoy common areas for socializing and educational activities, as well as a large space for guest lectures, informal activities, and watching movies. There are fully-equipped communal kitchens on each floor, a rooftop garden to hang out and relax, and a laundry room. In addition to the dorm building, there are two fully furnished off campus apartments just a short walk away.
Shopping, cooking and cleaning are divided co-op style amongst the chanichim.
There is no city in the world like Jerusalem, the historical heart of the Jewish people for centuries.
Beginning in Fall 2020, the Year Course Jerusalem semester will be based on the Kiryat Moriah campus of the Machon L’Madrichei Chutz La’Aretz (International Youth Leadership Institute.)
The large, secure campus features dormitory-style living, a dining hall, basketball and volleyball courts, laundry facilities, common areas, and more. Year Coursers will live together as a group alongside members of youth movements from around the world. Located in the city’s Armon HaNatsiv neighborhood,