About the Program

Learning | Social Action | Trips & Tours | Life with BINA

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BINA Gap Year is a life-changing 11-month experience!

BINA Gap Year began in 2011 in order to provide international participants with the unique opportunity to integrate into a fully Israeli Mechina.
Mechina, meaning ‘preparation’, is a gap year that Israelis take between high school and the army. At BINA, joining our Mechina means preparing for life no matter what is next!

With BINA’s LEAP Mechina, preparation happens by pairing internationals and Israelis together for thoughtful learning, community-based social action, experience-based leadership training and an exploration of Israel and beyond!
The LEAP happens during the middle of the year, when the entire group will travel together to the San Francisco Bay Area to continue exploring the topics of Jewish Peoplehood, learning and social action in the diaspora.

International participants learn, volunteer and explore alongside their Israeli peers while having the support of an English speaking Madrich (guide) and BINA Staff, Ulpan (Hebrew classes) and an inclusive community.

Learning

During your gap year, you will learn about a variety of central themes within Judaism and Israel. All of our classes are taught from a pluralist perspective, learning from each individual's knowledge and experience. Some of your classes might include Philosophy, Israeli Culture, Activism, Beit Midrash & Stories of the Chalutzim (Pioneers).

These are not lectures, but an opportunity for you to learn from and share with your teacher and your peers, challenging not only their opinions and ideas but yours as well. 

Hebrew Ulpan – in addition to the full Israeli immersive experience you will have throughout the program, you will also receive Hebrew Ulpan classes. No Hebrew is required for the program as we have different levels of classes, but if you work hard before and during the program you can improve vastly throughout your time with BINA.

 

Social Action

At the beginning of the program, you'll have an opportunity to tour the different volunteering options. With the guidance of BINA staff and according to your abilities and strengths, you'll choose your volunteer projects for the duration of the program. Here are a few of our volunteering options:

Bialik Rogozin School – an after-school child care facility that is populated by children of migrant workers and asylum seekers. 
 
The Jaffa Institute – a non-profit, multi-service social agency to assist the city of Jaffa’s severely disadvantaged children and their families. 
 
Kuchinate – an arts-based economic and psychosocial collective for African asylum-seeking women. Members earn a fair wage by designing and creating crafts rooted in African culture, and hosting events, crochet workshops, and traditional coffee ceremonies. The Shnat Sherut participants help manage the daily operations of the collective including packing orders, organizing fundraising campaigns, and working closely with the women on their projects.

Trips & Tours

On BINA’s Gap Year you will go on day tours and excursions throughout Israel. Previous tours include Hebron, Jerusalem's Old City, ecological farms, the Golan Heights, and Druze communities in the Carmel.

You will also participate in a few longer trips throughout the year. Nivutim (navigation) happens twice throughout the year, allowing participants to really challenge themselves and their skills to navigate them and their peers in Israel’s beautiful outdoors. Some of these are planned completely by the participants! You can be part of the tsevet (team) to plan a trip to Jerusalem, the North or the South. What the group does, learns, eats and where they sleep is really all up to you!

In the middle of the year the mixed Israeli and International cohort will take the LEAP to the San Fransisco Bay Area in partnership with the OFJCC and Z3. This is an opportunity to explore social action, Jewish learning and identity from another unique perspective!

LIFE WITH BINA

Shabbat

The group atmosphere continues into Shabbat, where around half of the Shabbats throughout the year will be spent together. You’ll eat, sing and celebrate together however you as a group decide. In the Shabbats you are not spending together, you can stay in the apartment and the community, travel around the country, or enjoy home hospitality with your Israeli peers.

Israeli Immersion

Find your place within an Israeli program! Surround yourself with Hebrew and Israeli culture while being supported as an English-speaker with classes in English, as well as an English-speaking counselor. Whether you come with no Hebrew, went to Jewish Day School, or grew up in a Hebrew-speaking home, your Hebrew and understanding of Israeli society will grow exponentially.

LEADERSHIP

Every participant on the will join a different tzevet (committee) to take responsibility over their experience. From organizing community Shabbats and holiday events, to writing a newsletter and planning a group hike trip, there are endless possibilities for you to make your mark on BINA.

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