BINA is an Israeli non-profit organization, which was founded in 1996 following the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. BINA is committed to promoting Jewish learning and social action from a pluralistic perspective. In Hebrew, the word “Bina” (pronounced: bee-NAH) means understanding, insight, and wisdom. The acronym BINA stands for the Hebrew phrase “Home for the Creation of a Nation’s Soul”, coined by Israel’s national poet, H.N. Bialik.
Our Mechina and Year of Service 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.
BINA has community and social action running through its veins, and through our programming we have no doubt that you will feel more connected to the Jewish people, Israel and your own identity. There is no other program that provides you with this incredible year of full Israeli immersion, whilst supporting all your needs as an international student in a new country. Everyday is spent surrounded by your Israeli peers, learning about Israel through their stories and experiences. Yet, we do not expect you to have any knowledge of Hebrew as we have Hebrew classes and language support throughout the year – but if you do already know Hebrew, great!
What does it look like for an international participant within an Israeli program?
Israeli and international participants share their time together in volunteering, preparing group meals, planning activities and trips. In Tel Aviv international participants have a separate apartment, but are in the same building as the Israelis, and in Haifa the international and Israeli participants share an apartment.
In both Haifa and Tel Aviv all participants will receive Hebrew Ulpan classes. In Haifa the rest of the classes are taught in English with the Israelis, and in Tel Aviv the classes will mostly be separate in English, but some mixed with Israelis and some in Hebrew.
This is a great opportunity to get to know your Israeli counterparts on a deeper level, living their lives with them.
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 a neighborhood of south Tel Aviv neighborhood of Shapira. 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 at BINA’s 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 in the Mechina in Tel Aviv. Please let us know if you are interested in college credit.
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