After graduating from the Young Judaea summer camps, Young Judaea Year Course seemed like the next natural step for Avi Gordon.
Having attended Jewish elementary school, public high school and an Orthodox synagogue, Avi wanted to further explore his Judaism and enrolled in Year Course’s Shevet Track, Young Judaea’s Jewish enrichment program.
“I wanted to have the best possible experience on my gap year program and to me that meant learning as much as possible about religion, culture and myself,” says Avi.
Avi appreciated having the opportunity take part in diverse Jewish communities in Israel. “One day, I was studying alongside guys in black hats at the Mir Yeshiva in Meah Shearim and, and then another day, I was at Pardes, taking part in a very different kind of learning,” says Avi. “Shevet gave us tastes of Judaism and then let us decide what we wanted.”
On his first Shabbat, Avi recalls how the awkward getting-to-know-each-other tension was diffused on a four hour walk to the Old City which culminated in a meaningful prayer service. “The guy leading the service was very powerful and emotional, and all of a sudden, a ton of people joined in from all Jewish backgrounds,” says Avi. “I felt such a sense of community and I remember thinking, we’re all Jews and we’re in this together. I knew then that it would be a year of a lifetime.”
When the year ended, Avi began studying at Binghamton University, where he was very involved in Jewish life and Israel advocacy work, serving as the AIPAC liaison on his campus.
“Not only did I spend a year of my life in Israel, but I have cousins there as well. I know what’s happening in Israel and when I see people on campus saying lies about Israel and its people, I feel personally offended and I need to speak out,” says Avi.
While still a senior at Binghamton, Avi landed a job as the StandWithUs East Coast Campus Coordinator. He helps educate college students about Israel and works with the Emerson Fellows to advocate for Israel on campus.
“I am passionate about Israel and I know I can make a difference. I’m so thankful to be engaged in this sort of work,” says Avi.