Year Course - Gap Year Program in Israel
87% Rating
(15 Reviews)

Year Course - Gap Year Program in Israel

Year Course is Young Judaea's 9-month gap year program in Israel where students get the chance to earn up to 30 college credits, enhance their language skills, gain meaningful and unique volunteer opportunities and deepen their curiosity of where and how they want to engage in the world around them. The students that go on Year Course gain a great sense of independence and mature in ways that enable them to truly thrive in college, both socially and academically.

The year consists of 4 months living and studying on our private campus in Jerusalem. Your week will include daily Hebrew classes, 4 to 5 courses of your choice and weekly trips out of the classroom. You will also spend 4 months in the city of Bat Yam living like a local in apartment buildings and volunteering in the community.

Program Tags
Adventure Travel
Language Immersion
Study Abroad
Teach Abroad
Volunteer Abroad
6-12 Months
Primary Language
Age Max
Price Details
Tuition includes housing, monthly food stipend, education (up to 30 college credits) basic medical insurance and a bus pass. It does not include flights or cell phones. There are multiple scholarship opportunities that can help with tuition.

Questions & Answers

Program Reviews

based on 15 reviews
  • Housing 7.9
  • Support 8.4
  • Fun 9.1
  • Value 9.7
  • Safety 9
Showing 1 - 15 of 15
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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.

Yes, I recommend
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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!

How can this program be improved?

Perhaps more structured Shabbatot. Not much else to improve.

Yes, I recommend
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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!

How can this program be improved?

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.

Yes, I recommend
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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.

No, I don't recommend
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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

Yes, I recommend
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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

Yes, I recommend
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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.

Yes, I recommend
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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.

Yes, I recommend
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Remarkable Year

Last year our son went on Young Judaea Year Course. It truly was a remarkable year for Jackson. In his words, "the best year of his life". He grew tremendously and seemed so together and settled into himself when he returned. He meshed his emotional being, his intellect, humor, and inner drive. We couldn't be more proud of him and are so excited for his next adventure at AJU.

All of the staff at YC surpassed my expectations in regards to the care and support that he received. When I think about all that he has experienced during the year, I am so thankful that he had this opportunity. He is on a great path. We can't wait to witness all that he will bring to this world!

Yes, I recommend
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Experience of a Lifetime

My niece went on Young Judaea's Year Course program and it was an experience of a lifetime! She forged deep friendships that hopefully will last forever (she has already gone to a couple of reunions in her first year back in the states). She strengthened her Jewish identity and learned about life in Israel and the mixtures of cultures that exist there. She learned to manage finances, organize meals, and juggle studies, social work, and fun while living in apartments in Bat Yam, the Negev, and Jerusalem.

We spent a week traveling together when my husband and I visited and got our fill of stories about the great experiences she was having. The measures Young Judaea took to ensure everyone's safety were also obvious (and a welcome excuse for my niece to have a cell phone with her at all times). It was clear to us that it was a transformational year for her. Having gone on Year Course myself decades ago, it was heartwarming to see that she too was finding it to be an experience of a lifetime. It's a program I'd highly recommend.

Yes, I recommend
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The program is great but its not worth the risk

Parents looking to send children to Israel for the gap year after high school face a daunting task, so many available programs, so little feedback. However on the surface there appears to be one program that stands out above the rest, namely; Young Judaea Year Course or the Young Judaea Gap Year Program. When you study the Young Judaea Year Course web site and programs you realize the following: that the lure of the perfect program promising to give your child the experience of a lifetime; trips, lectures, volunteering, kibbutzim, marva/army experience, living on your own etc. is possible. But alas, it’s just that. A lure, a trap, costing the average family $20,000 that many parents will need to save, beg or borrow in order to qualify for the few scholarships still available.

Most of us, despite the hardships, are very happy to do so because we know we will be giving our 18 year old child an experience never to be forgotten. What they don’t tell you on the Young Judaea Year Course site is, that your 18 year old child who is actually still only a child and might get into occasional trouble i.e. getting drunk, smoking a joint, getting into fights, or the other common things teenagers do nowadays, and that if caught, will get kicked out of the Young Judaea Year Course program with out any recourse. Young Judaea Year Course will have your child shipped home the same day, without a warning, without a hearing or any probationary period shipped home guilty, gone! Regardless of the fact that the program has just started, you will not get any money back, If you’ll want your child to still have the Israel experience you will need another $20,000 for another program (I couldn’t afford to pay another $20.000) because Young Judaea Year Course cares about you only if you are part of their program. The minute your child gets kicked out he does not count any more, you will not be able to argue your case because no one will talk to you. They will not take your calls, they will tell you to e-mail them and they will answer you with a 3 line e-mail dismissing anything you say. This is what happened to my child. My sons Rabbi ( who loves my son because of the great kid that he is) tried to talk to Young Judaea Year Course directors Adam Jenshil and Kate Nachman trying numerous times for 2 weeks but finally telling me that there is just no one to talk to.

Of course it’s great that they keep the program clean of drugs and alcohol or any other bad influences, but, do they really do their job? Or do they just need to find a few scapegoats so that everyone sees and has duly noted to stay clean? My sorry experience tells me that what Young Judaea Year Course cares about is only what looks good and not the truth. My child admitted what he did despite others being involved but did not squeal on his friends. He said that he did it by himself. When I spoke to them (on the one phone call they made to me telling me that he is dismissed from the program) they told me that they knew that other kids were involved but that they were not going to pursue it. So my son, was publicly humiliated, cut of from all the new friends that he met on the program, and shipped off back to home feeling like a failure. Adding to the woe of no refund I still owe them my last payment and some of the MASA money that they had to give back to the MASA program. So not only did they choose my child to be the scapegoat, they also threatened to send me to collections if I didn’t pay the balance. When Young Judaea wants your business they will tell you how great their program is (and to be fair it is a great program) but if your child gets into any kind of trouble, regardless of the severity it will be Adam Jenshils decision alone that will affect your childs life forever. Because lets face it, just like Young Judaea Year Course is a life changing experience, getting kicked out of Young Judaea Year Course is an experience that will stay with you and your child for the rest of your life, and the way Young Judaea directors treat you if your child is dismissed from the program will make you wonder how Adam Jenshil and Kate Nachman the director and deputy director of Young Judaea Year Course ever became directors of a teenage program to begin with, having no tolerance for teenage stupidity or high jinks. I would like to point out that the Young Judaea New York office was in communication with me even though they are just a managing office and they don’t have any influence on the Israeli office decisions. Also while looking into other programs I found out that although most programs will not tolerate trouble with their students, they all understand that they are dealing with teenagers and as such, keep an open mind to helping the kids as best as possible and will work with the parents to help every child to do his/her best. Sadly not the case with Young Judaea. No guidance counselors, no guidance, no tolerance, not a place for your child. My son is now relegated to a minimum wage job with a negative attitude until college starts in September. Thanks Young Judaea. Great job. Enjoy the money...

Interesting fact: On orientation weekend the kids are told that about a 3rd of the students will not make it to the end of the program for various reasons, I would safely assume that half of that 3rd, (about 17%) are dismissed for violation of rules, in other words, in a program of about 300 kids approximately 50 kids will be sent home for violating the rules.

No, I don't recommend
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An Intimate View of Israel

As part of Year Course, I worked in the back of an ambulance as a medic on Haifa. The perspective I got of Israeli society from that experience was intimate, diverse, fascinating and accessible to very few. I came away with such a stronger, more nuanced and layered understanding of Israel, its society and people, as well as challenges. That was the highlight of Year Course experience. However I had an absolutely amazing 10 months also in Jerusalem and at Kibbutz Ketura. Getting to know Israel with such an amazing group of friends and staff was such a unique opportunity. I am so grateful I had the opportunity to partake and for the impact its had on my life!

Yes, I recommend
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Great Program

Year course is a wonderful program that provided an out of the box educational experience. I formed life long friendships, and interpersonal skills that have served me well every day of my life. Nothing compares to living in Israel for a year and becoming engrossed in the society. Year Course is a great program.

Yes, I recommend
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Life Changing Experience

I attended Year Course in 2001-2002 and the program completely changed my life. I knew that I wanted to make a difference in the world and Israel was where I chose to make a huge impact with Young Judaea. I lived all over the country, spent time in the Army and lived on a kibbutz, all experiences that I never would've been able to have without YJ.

I gained such self-confidence from living on my own with peers my age, shopping and cooking for ourselves among other life skills that have proved invaluable. I can't say enough about the organization, security, communication and care that the program takes in every single participant. Don't miss out, this will change your life forever!

Yes, I recommend
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A Transformative Year

After his year on Young Judaea Year Course our son Max returned home, and safe....not necessarily where he wanted to be. He had changed so much that he walked past me at JFK and I missed him.....until he came up to me for a big hug.

As we drove home to Fairfield, he kept thanking me for 'pushing' him to do Year Course. I reminded him, it was his decision...although we did steer him in that direction. I could go on and on but I will just conclude by thanking the staff of Year Course for taking such good care of Max. More importantly for transforming Max. For doing what Year Course, and Israel do to kids.

We have no more of our own kids to send you, but we will do our best to finds somebody else's kids to send you.

Yes, I recommend

About Young Judaea Year Course

The Year Course Program is an innovative program designed for Jewish gap year students looking for a challenging and rewarding experience in Israel. Since it's establishment in 1956, more than 6,000 students have traveled abroad to Israel for an...