There are dozens of different Israel gap year programs. But how do you pick the best Israel gap year program for you? Here are a few helpful questions to ask when deciding on a gap year in Israel.
The home-base location of your Israel gap year will shape your experience. Think about what kind of vibe you’re looking for. A kibbutz or small town can give you more quiet and nature, while a big city might offer more social and cultural opportunities. And when it comes to cities, Jerusalem offers a more religious vibe, while Tel Aviv and Haifa have a more secular cosmopolitan flavor.
Some Israel gap years also include a significant amount of travel and tours around Israel, and some offer you free weekends to travel on your own. Find out what kind of trips and tours each gap year offers.
Also find out about the kind of housing each gap year provides. Will you live in dorms or will you live in apartments and get to know your Israeli neighbors?
Who are the participants in the Israel gap year program? Are you looking to live with Israelis or just Americans? Some programs are only for American students, while others have participants from around the world, and others have Israelis as part of the program.
If you want a truly Israeli experience, try a gap year with Israeli participants, or even better, choose an Israeli gap year program (mechina or shnat sherut) with a track for English speakers and internationals.
What are the different components of each Israel gap year program? Most Israel gap year programs have some combination of: Jewish learning and Israel studies, volunteering, travel, group and leadership activities – but each has a different combination and balance.
Be sure the gap year program you choose has the right balance of what you’re looking for and that you will experience something life-changing. Make sure the educational content is interesting and relevant for you – whether it’s Jewish learning, learning about Israel, or life and leadership skills. If there’s a volunteer component, try to find out what kind of volunteer work you’ll be doing and how much impact you’ll have. If there’s a travel component, find out where you’ll be going and if it’s usual “tourist” sites or places off the beaten path.
4) How Much?
The cost of gap year programs in Israel vary widely and many come with hidden fees and expenses. Make sure to find out whether the program’s advertised tuition includes: housing, full meals, public transportation, travel, etc. Find out if there are additional charges or fees for “supplementary” or “optional” activities. Make your own budget. How much do you expect to spend in addition to tuition?
Looking for a great gap year in Israel? Check out BINA Gap Year!