BINA: The Jewish Movement for Social Change is an Israeli movement at the forefront of social activism and Jewish pluralism in Israel. Every year, BINA reaches over 50,000 Israelis and individuals from around the world through social, educational and community programs.

As a BINA Gap Year participant, you'll be a part of a diverse community of Israelis and internationals working toward social change through study and action.

Our LEAP Year (Mechina) and Service Year (Shnat Sherut) are for participants from around the world who want to spend an extended period of time in Israel developing their own Jewish identity and connection to Israel alongside their Israeli peers. The programs are for people who have just finished high school, ages 17-19.

Mechina literally means ‘preparation’. In Israel, it refers to a year of studies and social action after graduating high school before starting their army service. BINA’s mechina combines Jewish studies and social action, seeking to educate young Jews about important tenets of Judaism, and about how to put them into practice through social action and grassroots activism.

Just as some Israelis participate in a mechina before the army, some also participate in a ‘shnat sherut’ – year of service. This is a similar preparation year after high school, with a greater focus on community work, spending more time in a variety of placements with the populations around them.

There are very few programs like BINA in which you will be immersed in Israeli society, participate in meaningful social action in the community in which you live, gain valuable leadership skills, and experience through doing.

Through being immersed in Israeli culture, you will improve your Hebrew language skills through day-to-day life in Tel Aviv, as well as through valuable Hebrew Ulpan courses.

You will truly make a difference in South Tel Aviv through volunteering with communities in need, whether it be at after school programs or packaging food, you will be taking part in meaningful social action projects that connect to topics of social change, poverty, environment and migration.

While your Israeli peers are gaining leadership skills prior to their army service, you will be channeling these skills towards your next four years in university. You will grow as a leader on both an individual level and a group level – both of which are highly important to your future as a young adult.

Lastly, on BINA gap year you won't just be talking about topics, but you will experience through doing. You'll be taking courses at BINA's Secular Yeshiva in Tel Aviv and learn from experts in the field of Jewish education, Hebrew and modern Israel.

The BINA Gap Year consists of two different tracks: The LEAP Year (Mechina) and the Service Year (Shnat Sherut).

                                                                     Mechina                                                        Shnat Sherut

DatesEnd of August 2021 – mid July 2022End of August 2021 – mid July 2022
Cost$19,000 for 11 months (10 in Israel 1 in USA)$17,500 for  11 months (in Israel)
LocationSouth Tel Aviv and Palo Alto, CASouth Tel Aviv
LanguageEnglish & HebrewEnglish & Hebrew
Days/week learning3 total2 total
Days/week volunteering2 total3 total
Group size15 internationals7 internationals and 10 Israelis
Ratio Int'l:Israeli15:551:1
Program frameworkMechina (pre army)Service year (pre army)


If you would like your gap year to emphasize learning about history of Israel and Jewish topics, while being part of a larger group, we recommend the Mechina.

If you are especially passionate about volunteering, and being part of a cohesive group, we recommend the Shnat Sherut.

The BINA Gap Year consists of two different tracks: The LEAP Year (Mechina) and the Service Year (Shnat Sherut). At the end of your 10 months in Israel, if you are in the Mechina track, you will embark on a month-long journey to the Bay Area with other international and Israeli Mechina participants.

Daily activities include counselor responsibilities at the OFJCC J-Camp; learning with Secular Yeshiva Faculty; volunteering in local areas of need; cultural outings in Bay Area; site visits to local Jewish organizations to attend guest lectures; group bonding activities (including Shabbat dinners), and more!

You will live in dorms with 2-4 other people, have 3 meals a day provided, spend your time learning, volunteering and developing a deeper familiarity with American Jewish life.

*The JCC will cover the cost of participants flights

Yes, BINA is proud to support and welcome participants of all sexual orientations and gender identities. BINA as an organization proudly advocates for the rights of LGBTQ+ people in Israel and beyond, and we make great efforts to make sure that individuals of diverse identities feel welcome, included, safe and celebrated.

You will live in apartments in the Shapira neighborhood of south Tel Aviv. The apartments are furnished and equipped with all the basic necessities. You will be sharing a bedroom with other participants, with a few bedrooms per apartment. 

Our programs encourage participants to live as a group using communal resources. This means many daily living decisions are made democratically, as a group. In addition, the group has a joint sum of money that is used collectively for buying groceries and other necessities. Meals are usually cooked together in the apartment, or on the BINA campus in south Tel Aviv.

Yes, there are breaks for major Jewish holidays, as well as a January break in between first and second semesters.

All participants will receive basic health care coverage from one of Israel's health care cooperatives. There is a clinic and pharmacy in the neighborhood. Please be advised that your health insurance will not cover preexisting conditions, mental health, as well as a few other treatments. Participants taking prescription medications should bring enough with them to last the duration of the program.

Yes, it’s possible to receive college credit on BINA but only for specific courses and with some additional assignments. Please let us know if you are interested in college credit and we can provide you with more information and a list of colleges where college credit from BINA has been previously accepted.

Apply now to qualify for our early-bird discount!
For more details on the program and application process >>

Israel (+972) 53-902-3329 (call or text)USA (+1) 646-883-5105 (call or text) |