Year Course - Gap Year Program in Israel

Video and Photos


Why Choose Year Course in Israel for your gap year? After more than 60 years, Year Course is still the leader in gap year in Israel experiences! Just ask any of our nearly 10,000 alumni!

Young Judaea Year Course in Israel is a nine-month gap year program for high school graduates ready to have one incredible year! With semesters in both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, you’ll live in fully furnished apartments or in dormitory-style housing. Explore your passion through interning or volunteering, and take a variety of stimulating courses for college credit. Learn Hebrew intensively and get to know Israel from top to bottom – because the best way to understand Israel’s diverse society, history, culture and geography is to live like an Israeli on your gap year in Israel!

  • College Credits
  • Volunteering
  • Global Trips
  • Special Tracks
  • Internships

Questions & Answers


8.73 Rating
based on 15 reviews
  • Housing 7.9
  • Support 8.4
  • Fun 9.1
  • Value 9.7
  • Safety 9
Showing 1 - 8 of 15
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

The Best Decision Yet

Year Course has definitely been the best decision I've made. Coming on a gap year program is a difficult decision, and then finding the right program is even harder. I knew that I wanted a program that would allow me to earn college credits while still getting to experience living in Israel and doing all the things that come along with being in a new place with new people. Year Course has provided me with everything I could have hoped for and even more. One of the biggest benefits of coming on a gap year is the personal growth aspect. With Year Course, I believe that the personal growth aspect is enhanced even further than other programs because of the way it is set up. We live in apartments with 4-5 other kids and have to uphold a healthy living environment. This means we have to clean the place and make sure that everyone's needs are taken care of. We have to buy groceries together, and then cook together because we don't have food provided. Other programs might give the personal growth experience, but none like Year Course. In the fall I will be attending Muhlenberg College and already feel as though I have more life experience than the average student who is starting school. Speaking of which, did I mention that I will be transferring over 40 college credits? Year Course has given me the opportunity to learn from some of the best professors I've had, ever! The education aspect that Year Course provides will potentially allow me to graduate in three years of undergraduate studies on American soil. I'm leaving Israel in less than two weeks and have been reflecting a lot on the past nine months of my life. I've travelled all across Israel, I've been to Poland, made life-time friends, gained life experiences that college would never be able to teach me (like how to cook for myself, taking care of an apartment and so much more), I've learned a new language and am leaving Israel a better, more mature and more complete version of myself than when I first got here. I can't thank Year Course enough for all it has done for me. These last nine months will be such an important part of my life for as long as I live. I would recommend this program to anyone who is even slightly considering taking a gap year.

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Youth Village- Yemin Orde

My daughter did her Tikkun Olam project (Community Service) at Yemin Orde. Yemin Orde is a youth village south of Haifa, Israel. They are an educational setting and my daughter taught high school kids English. These children have had real challenges in their lives and Yemin Orde seems to be a life raft for them. Most of the kids are from immigrant homes from Brazil, France, Ethiopia, Russia, Ukraine and Israel. The relationships our daughter Sara formed with these kids were transformative for our daughter and the kids she taught. When a group from Yemin Orde came to sing in a youth chorus in our town in White Plains, I introduced myself as the father of her English teacher. She was so excited to meet me and told me how much she was affected by the relationship Sara formed with her. I was moved to tears by the chorus and by this girl's story. Our daughter felt that she had an opportunity to give of herself in ways that got her in touch with how much she has to give to others. And she felt that she had given back to Israel.

Her whole experience has been amazing and I could not recommend this Year Course program more highly! It changed us all!!! And the staff is incredible!

What would you improve about this program?
Perhaps more structured Shabbatot. Not much else to improve.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Best Investment We've EVER made!!

We sent our wonderful, brilliant and sweet 18 year old boy on Young Judaea Year Course 2014/15. We took our 6'2" "baby" to the airport and bid him a long, tearful goodbye. He'd been to Camp Young Judaea Texas, Camp Tel Yehudah in Barryville, NY and even on the 6 week YJ program in Israel the summer after his junior year. He had earned a 2nd degree black belt in the Keon do and the prestige of being a National Merit Scholar finalist but he was very much an irresponsible and mostly clueless teenage boy. Yes, I was a helicopter mom and my husband wasn't much better. Josh had been wanting to go on Year Course, "YC" with his Young Judaea friends since middle school and we dreaded letting go. Did I mention that he's our baby?
Josh had been accepted to a prestigious engineering school in NY ( far enough from home in Texas) and they gladly deferred his admission as, "Our university supports and encourages gap year programs due to the quality of student after the gap year experience." Side note- a letter arrived the spring that Josh was on year course with a 4 year HUGE leadership scholarship. I attribute a lot of this scholarship award to their considering his gap year experience. This financial award defrayed the $24,000. cost for YC several times over!! ( stay in touch with university during gap year!)
WHILE IN ISRAEL we'd ( he'd) promised to Skype every Sunday with our "baby." We met his friends & roommates via Skype and had photos and weekly, monthly and during turbulence; daily email, facebook, etc.. from Year Course adult leaders and staff. THANK YOU KATE, & TZIPPI for answering all my probably obnoxious " worried mom" queries!! We never felt uninformed or out of the loop. The kids had LOTS of freedom but were safe and accounted for especially during any political incidents. This group of YC kids quickly metamorphasized into responsible young adults. It was amazing to watch the transformation. Yes, a few of them had bad judgement- which would have occurred at home or college but the great majority of them grew intellectually, religiously, spiritually. They were taught their financial, academic, social and personal responsibilities in classes the first 3 or 4 weeks after their arrival and were given the knowledge and a full arsenal of YC resources including being taken to get bus passes and throughly coached on using the transportation systems. Several months in, they'd travel in groups on the bus going to Eilat or Tel Aviv for Shabbat. They had wonderful host families for Shabbat and holidays! The classes were amazing & helped our math/science kid become better well-rounded as most were history, theology, literature based. GREAT professors!! Imagine learning Jewish history by walking to the sites where the history occurred!! Wow!
We visited Josh for New Years 2015 and met our son as a man for the first time. Words cannot express the profound and positive growth we witnessed in our son. Nachas beyond belief!
By this time 2nd semester moved him from Beit Ar El, the YC secure living BEAUTIFUL compound in Jerusalem to Bat Yam, a 4th floor residential apartment reminiscent of my college quadplex which my mom referred to as "the tenement." 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, kitchen & living area which was surprisingly clean considering 7 guys lived there! At this point in the program, the kids choose jobs or army training. Josh chose working on the ambulance service ( he had to study hard to qualify) and our son who rarely got to high school on time was taking the bus to work at 6:00 am , 4 days a week and loving it. Ambulance service near Tel Aviv- yes, he saw and learned a lot. He gained the confidence and knowledge that comes from experience. He also gained an appreciation and understanding of the fragility and resilience of life. This will stay with him forever.
I have to add that making life long friends and irreplaceable experiences during "the best year of their lives" had a down side. Coming home was difficult for a lot of the YC kids. Year Course tries to prepare them for the transition but it's hard. They stayed in touch and worked through it together. But missed Israel & each other very much!
Several of the YC kids stayed and joined the IDF. As a mom, I can't imagine but applaud their dedication.
Our son, now a successful college student completing his freshman year, plans to return to Israel with his education to offer help secure our Jewish homeland. As much as I don't want to say goodbye again, I understand why.
Thank you Young Judaea Year Course for taking our amazing boy and returning our amazing young man! GREAT JOB!

What would you improve about this program?
I feel that the Bat Yam part needs more daily structure/programming. The Jerusalem portion was perfect. Please add college courses at Technion for the math/science students. Otherwise- amazing program.
Default avatar
No, I don't recommend this program


Read "Disappointed's" review. It is an accurate review of the problem. I have just lost $25,000. My son was dismissed from the program after 29 days and I am getting no money back as of now. I am not trying to state that Year Course should compromise their standards if my son did not follow the rules but I should be getting an equitable amount of my money back. I tried to be fair to Young Judaea and said that even though I paid $25,000, please just give me back $15,000 even though my son was only in the program 29 days and they said no. Instead, I got a perfunctory three sentence reply and that's it. They did not reply to any of my concerns which are too long to list here. But what I want to make clear here is that the only place where it says that you will not get your money back is in their "Information Guide." For Year Course 2015/2016, this "Information Guide" was for all practical purposes the last step of the electronic application guide. I am 58 years old. I am very unfamiliar with electronic applications. I pushed my way through it. Upload, download, upload, download. I frequently had to contact Young Judaea to upload my information to the application because I could not do it myself. By the time, we got to the "Information Guide" we were to far along in the process to back out. Plans had already been made. It was too close to the departure date. I had no choice but to sign at that point. This information should be upfront and widely available. It lacks integrity and is deceptive to have it hidden at the end. It hurts more because I am a former Young Judaean. I worked for free for the movement for many years. It's a long time ago but I still did it. I never expected to be cheated and have my money basically stolen by Young Judaea. My son said they are stealing your money and we all said, no don't say that but the truth is he is right. My son knows that what he did is wrong. He, the one who got kicked out, has more honesty and integrity than Young Judaea. Do they realize that what they are doing is wrong? No offense to used car salesmen but I didn't think that is what I was involved with. I never expected to be cheated by Young Judaea. As I said in my letter to Young Judaea, just because something is legal doesn't make it ethical or moral. Young Judaea is the last place I expected this type of behavior. Other programs have a prorated amount of money that you will get back if your child has to leave the program for any reason. Other programs try to work with the child (i.e., allow them to leave the program for a period of time and return). Also, in the application process they also give the impression that they will work with your child if there are some issues. This is not the case. Again, I am not disputing their right to manage their program as far as what type of behavior they will tolerate or not tolerate. But their refund policy was hidden at the end of the application process. There are so many issues to address but I want to get it out there now for people applying this year-don't do it unless you are certain of your adolescent's behavior. My son also didn't want to give the names of the other kids (approximately a dozen rule violators) because there was no point in their parents' losing $25,000. Kate Nachman didn't even have the decency to tell my son to his face that he was being dismissed from the program. She sent him to a relative because she didn't want him going on a trip they were having and a counselor called him the next day and told him. Can you imagine? Be very careful. It is not the Young Judaea that I remember. Also, my son reached out to one of his favorite Young Judaea counselors from Tel Yehudah and to the best of my knowledge she never contacted him. Like "Disappointed" said, they are no longer interested in him. I am putting this out there because I want my money back and I want to influence Young Judaea into changing their policy about their refund policy and how they advertise their refund policy. Be upfront about it! I want people to send their children on Gap Year Programs to Israel but please be careful unless you have a lot of money. Most important, my son is missing out on a crucial year in Eretz Yisrael. As "Disappointed" said, we cannot afford to pay for another program. I pray that my son will have the maturity to realize that Young Judaea's values as they were shown to him do not represent the values of the Jewish People and that he will have more positive opportunities in the near future.

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Best gap year program around!

Not only have I gone on Year Course ('06-'07) but so have two of my younger siblings ('07-'08 & '09-'10), and one more is set yo go when she graduates high school. I have also had the great pleasure of working for Year Course ('10-'11).

My siblings and parents couldn't have been happier from the amazing years we all had while on Year Course. My parents were happy with the security of the program, the structure of the program, the level of education we received, the skills we acquired, the friends we made, and the everlasting connection we have with Israel.

We all enjoyed the program so much and we continually recommend it as the best option for a gap year in Israel.

As an alumnus of Year Course and a former counselor for the program I can easily say that I know hundreds of happy alumni of the program and many happy parents as well.

If you want to talk about Year Course and hear real experiences from both sides (staff and participant) and all of these amazing write ups are not enough look me up on Fb.

Ekka Adler

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Best Decision, Bar None

My second son recently returned from Year Course (2011-2012) and I am proud to say, is a beautifully improved person from when he left. I believe that a gap year program is one of the greatest gifts we can give our children, and I wish this opportunity was possible for all kids. I think society as a whole would benefit greatly, in addition to our children and our families! Year Course was always our program of choice, and it was the best choice I could have made for my son.

While there are always improvements that can be made to every program, I believe that Aaron grew in significant ways throughout this past year. He has matured in ways that will profoundly affect his future; he is so much more sensible and takes complete responsibility for himself and his actions. To top it all, he is now an accomplished chef who is well-versed in the art of healthy cooking, (and shopping!) and he has learned an enormous amount about budgeting and fiscal responsibility. I know that he has learned an enormous amount about himself and about what he holds most valuable in his life.

He shops, cleans, cooks, budgets his time and balances himself. He has learned about his own strengths and shortcomings and about how to handle issues with other kids who may not have the same beliefs as he does.

His views on Judaism and Israel are fodder for some very interesting discussion between us. Some of his classes touched him in deep and meaningful ways, which is a tremendous gift. I do think the Hebrew immersion needs improvement as he did not learn Hebrew as well as he (or I) might have liked.

While I cannot truthfully speak glowingly about all his counselors, I can testify to the strengths of two people who contributed significantly to his success. I have some concern about the age and maturity of some of the counselors as I think there is too little difference in age and hence in maturity between some of them and the chanichim.

However, on the fabulous side, Aaron and I were blessed to have had the most incredible parent liaison in Camille Kahn. Camille and Aaron forged a bond (and Camille and I have subsequently done the same) for which I will always be grateful. Camille relates to teenagers on a level that not many people can. She is one of the most engaging, effervescent, clear-headed, vivacious, earnest, real, practical, open-minded (while still rule-abiding), grounded, caring people I have ever met. She is passionate about Israel, about life and about empowering the chanichim. I cannot say enough about this remarkable woman other than to say that she helped Aaron navigate some very choppy waters, and he had tremendous trust and faith in her, and has great respect for her as well. I could go on and on, but then you'd probably stop reading, if you haven't already.

The other person of whom I think the world, is Kate Nachman. Kate works countless hours to create a program that is the very best it can be for all our children. She is completely dedicated and devoted to YC and to its success; she is open-minded and eager to listen to ways in which YC could improve. she is not defensive, as so many people in her position might be, and is extremely approachable and available. She also has a very clear and solid understanding of teenagers and their challenges, and has a real-life approach to working in their best interest. if I EVER had a concern about ANYTHING, Kate was ALWAYS available to talk and listen. Since Kate oversees the daily operations of YC, I feel extremely confident as to the direction it is headed.

I have to take my hat off to these two women, as well as the countless others who undoubtedly affected Aaron's life profoundly. I would love to have greater insight as to some of the classes and some of the wonderful activities that went on throughout the year, but truthfully I would rather the staff focus on the program and its participants than on communicating with the parents over and above what they already do.

If I have one issue with the program, it's the accommodations which I still think could use some improvement. However, I accept that Israel is not the US and things are different, AND I think the program needs a whole lot more money for this to happen. THe cost is extremely reasonable for what we get, and I never get solicited by YC. Perhaps we should be made aware of what YC's needs are in order to help where we can. If we don't know, we can't help.........

I am so grateful to everyone for what they do and have done to make this program available to our kids. I am so thankful to have two more dear people in my life as a result.

From strength to strength, from generation to generation!!!

Hazel Alterman

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

An Amazing Experience

Our daughter participated in Year Course and it was a life-changing experience for her. In the nine months she spent in Israel, she grew so much. She lived with her friends in apartments in cities and towns in Israel. The experience of taking care of herself -- cooking, shopping, everything -- gave her a new-found sense of independence. In transitioning to college, she was much more focused and proactive in managing her educational experience as a result of the perspective she gained on herself through the year of the YJ program. The wonderful volunteering opportunities -- working on an ambulance, helping to take care of disadvantaged immigrants, and many more, gave her a desire to help others that has become central to her goals in life. And of course, the program strengthened her connection to Israel and Judaism in so many ways. The friends she spent her year with are her among her closest friends, and I know they will remain so. We are so thankful for the Young Judaea program, and the wonderful staff who make it happen.

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

We will send our second son

Our olde son, Ben, retured safely from Young Judaea Year Course, back to Los Angeles. He looked great and we were very happy to have him back home after a year of experiences he will never forget. He misses being with his friends and Israel.

We appreciate the care and concern the staff had for Ben. Ben had an incredible experience on Year Course. It is an experience he will take with him for the rest of his life.

As proof of our very high recommendation of the program, we hope to send our younger son, Gabe, in a few years.