Videos

Hear participants talk about their daily life, take a virtual tour of your favorite program, and watch your semester of year in Israel unfold in front of you

Eco-Israel

Program: 

Videos

Hear participants talk about their daily life, take a virtual tour of your favorite program, and watch your semester of year in Israel unfold in front of you

Dance Journey

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Videos

Hear participants talk about their daily life, take a virtual tour of your favorite program, and watch your semester of year in Israel unfold in front of you

Nachshon - The Israeli Mechina

Videos

Hear participants talk about their daily life, take a virtual tour of your favorite program, and watch your semester of year in Israel unfold in front of you

Netzer Year

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School’s Out: Teens Put College on Hold for Adventure in Israel

School’s Out: Teens Put College on Hold for Adventure in Israel

School’s Out: Teens Put College on Hold for Adventure in Israel

July 28, 2011

By Emma Silvers, JWeekly
 
Nina Tabrizi has been back in the U.S. for almost two months now, but in her mind, she’s still in Jerusalem.
If she closes her eyes, it’s early May, and she’s at the Mount Herzl cemetery for Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day. She can still hear the sounds of sirens echoing in the air, the gunfire, and then celebratory shouting all around her as the holiday transitions into Yom HaAtzmaut, Independence Day.
 
“Hearing all the politicians, seeing these thousands of people at the soldiers’ graves, and then you turn around at night and everybody’s celebrating … it was incredible to see,” said Tabrizi, 19. “It’s such a big jump going from complete sadness to complete happiness, and it was amazing to witness how normal that is there, from an outsider’s perspective, from a North American perspective.”
 
That night is just one of many Israel experiences that Tabrizi says will stand out in her mind for the rest of her life. It’s also one of the reasons she’s so grateful she had the chance to do a gap year program in Israel — in her case, a nine-month, international travel–focused track called Olami, organized by Young Judaea — following her senior year of high school. 
“It was the most amazing experience of my life,” said Tabrizi earnestly. “I would not be the same person if I hadn’t done it.”
 
Gap years have long been a way for recent high school grads to take time off before college and enjoy a little independence before heading back to the school environment.
 
But gap year programs in Israel can do more than provide an avenue for soul-searching. According to a recent study commissioned by the Masa Israel Journey program, which allows young adults to spend up to a year in Israel, an extended Israel experience made alumni more likely to marry someone Jewish, become involved with Israel-related activities back home and consider a job in the Jewish community...
 
Elana Stern
2010-2011
Roselle Feldman
Dance Journey, 2009-2010
Beth Canter
Eco-Israel, 2008-2009

Gabi Gordon

Gabi Gordon

Nativ
Program: 
 
Raised in a Conservative home in Chicago, Judaism was always a part of my life. I attended Solomon Schechter for elementary school and then got involved in USY. While a junior in high school, I took part in the Alexander Muss semester program in Israel. It was then that I decided I needed to return for another extended period of time.
 
My chance to do so came soon enough. After graduation, I enrolled in Masa Israel’s Nativ, the Conservative movement’s gap year program in Israel. During that year, I had the opportunity to get to know the areas where I lived. While taking courses in Arabic, Jewish studies and Hebrew at Hebrew University during the first half of the year, I was also able to explore Jerusalem. I went to festivals, museums, and the market on a regular basis. I traveled to the Old City and visited the Kotel whenever I felt like it. On Yom Kippur, when the streets are devoid of cars, my friends and I sat in an intersection and sang, and the Israelis who passed joined in.
 
I also had the opportunity to volunteer at the Jerusalem YMCA’s preschool, which has both Arab and Jewish students.
 
I spent the second half of the year in Yerucham, a development town in the south—which allowed me to see a very different side of Israel. There, few people spoke English and I worked at a religious girls’ school with people who were very excited to learn English from Americans. My host family was incredibly hospitable, inviting me for meals and to take part in hiking trips. 
 
Leaving Israel was very difficult and after a year at Columbia/JTS, I decided that I needed to return to Israel. Recently I made aliyah through Garin Tzabar, a program that enables me to live on a kibbutz alongside other new immigrants around my age, while enlisting in the Israeli army. 
 
I am currently living on Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu and still keep in touch with all my counselors from Nativ, as well as my friends from Yerucham. I am so glad I participated in Nativ because it really allowed me to explore Israel and discover a place for myself in it.

Dana Bornstein

Dana Bornstein

Nativ
Program: 
 
I’ve become a Big Sister.
 
I’m volunteering at a Kfar Yeladim, or children’s village, in Karmiel, a small city in the Galilee.
 
What brought me here is Masa Israel’s Nativ, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism’s college leadership gap-year program. I began my nine months in Israel studying at Hebrew University. Then I was sent to Karmiel because of my experience working with disadvantaged youth.
 
Founded more than 30 years ago, the Kfar Yeladim is a large gated community of 17 houses, each home to 11 children from broken families. Some of these kids know no other home than this village.
 
Living in each of these homes are a “housemother” and “housefather”; nearly all of them have their own children, whom they are also raising in the village. Other than its own schools, the village has everything the families could possibly need: a grocery store, computer rooms, sports fields, music rooms, homework tutors, psychologists, playgrounds, and even buses to take the children around Karmiel. 
 
I work with house parents who have lived in the village for 12 years and raised their own three children there. They are paid next to nothing. They rely on secondhand clothes, grocery store money points, donations from others and whatever they can earn from odd jobs. But despite their hardships, the Kfar families have come to cherish the simple gifts that life has to offer.
 
While my house parents speak English, the children – who range in age from 7 to 16 – hardly speak a word of it. But the language barrier has given me the opportunity to connect with them on so many other levels: through computer games, English homework tutoring, soccer, playground games, TV programs and even cooking. Though they don’t always need my help, the kids make sure to include me in their everyday lives. 
 
Seeing smiles on the kids’ faces when I come over to spend time with them and getting a hug on Thursday before I leave for the weekend make me so thankful that I’ve decided to take a gap year in Israel.