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Young Judaea Israel Programs

About

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 enriching experience including academic courses, volunteering and internships. Visit the Young Judea website to learn more about spending you gap year abroad in Israel.

Reviews

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Sarah
2/5
No, I don't recommend this program

Average program

I had a great year with my friends, but the program was average. The staff meant well but they had no idea what the kids were really up to and so there were a lot of people doing things they shouldn't have been doing, like partying, and skipping classes. The food in Jerusalem was terrible and the staff tried to justify it all the time as being ok. The counselors were cool but it didn't really seem like they had the authority ever to solve problems that came up. It was good to be in Israel and I'm glad I did it but I expected more from the program.

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Naama
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Something Special

I am so thankful for my Year Course experience. There are many parts of the program that are amazing the way I assume other programs would be: being in Israel, living on your own, exciting opportunities, and making friends. What makes Year Course stand out, however, are the little things that create an overall feel.
Year Course does a great job of balancing independence with structure. From what I have heard about other programs from friends many do not provide enough structure or are too controlling and planned. Year Course runs interesting activities and provides exciting volunteering and internships, while also allowing plenty of time for participants to explore the cities they are living in and find what interests them. You live autonomously with friends and face the various associated survival and social challenges, but you have amazing, caring counselors and staff to lean on.
One thing I will say time and time again about Young Judeans and their programs is that they have the unique ability to build a loving and accepting family out of people who begin as strangers. I can't seem to pinpoint exactly what it is, but there is something about the staff and participants attracted to Young Judea that creates a true feeling of family. Even through a pandemic, Year Course staff (and participants) maintained a safe and comforting community. I am enjoying my first year of college greatly and have made a lot of friends, but something I, along with many friends and sister (who also went on YC), say is that we can't seem to find people we connect with and love as deeply as those from our Year Course.
Choosing Year Course was seriously one of the best decisions of my life.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Buy a travel towel (great for the beach), compactable sleeping bag, and extra-large carabiner! Lots of YCers go on hiking/camping trips, stay with family of friends, or take random weekend trips to random places. They will all serve very useful when only wanting a backpack on exciting adventures you will soon embark on with friends!
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Leetal
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Beat year of my life

I want to start off by saying that gap years are not for everyone!! But anyone looking for a way to grow, experience a new culture, travel, learn through experiences rather than a textbook, or even just have a year to explore and make memories, this is the program for you!! You very much get out what you put into it. To anyone nervous about being behind in college, my school initially said they wouldn’t take the credits but I ended up with 35 (23 from YC) . I’m also graduating a semester early.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
The time goes by SO fast. Make the best out of it and don’t take yourself so seriously
Exploring in Israel
Paz
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Life Changing Experience!

Going on year course was an extraordinary experience! It helped me become more independent, taught me so much about my country, and gave me all the tools I needed to make a living while I was away. Though being overseas from the people you love can be stressful, I felt a sense of home and security from the staff that gave a similar vibe. Overall this program was really good for me and I definitely recommend going if you have the chance! Also- the food is TO DIE FOR. promise your kids will not go hungry while they’re away :)

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Go out and explore as much as you can! Try new foods, take field trips to new places! Expand your horizons! Year Course is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and if you blink you might miss out on the awesome adventures Israel has to offer!

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Jereme
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Young Judaea Year Course

Year Course absolutely changed my life. After high school I thought I knew who I was and what my interests were, but my time in Israel completely changed that. I loved being able to live in my favorite country with all my favorite people. Being immersed in the country through different activities, learning Hebrew, and living with Israelis was an unmatched experience. I deepened my connection to Judaism and Israel as well as discovering so much about myself in general: I was able to decide what I wanted to major in and gain more direction going into college. Go on YC!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Make every day count! With all of Israel at your feet you should never be bored. Get on the bus and go!!!!

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

What were your main concerns prior to your son's gap year in Israel?

Our concerns were that Max have a meaningful year and that he allow himself to experience new lifestyles, new relationships and feel less safe than he had ever been before. Less safe in that he was willing to take risks to learn new things. I think most middle class American kids do not comprehend the realities of the world and view the world through a false lens. Living 6000 miles away in a new country, new culture without the daily supervision of parents is an experience worth having at age 18.

How were those concerns dealt with by Year Course?

Year Course introduces kids to a world that they, for the most part, have not experienced before. They must take responsibility for living on their own and they are provided an environment where they can see vast new realities.

Would you recommend Year Course to other parents?

I think every high school grad in America could benefit from a gap year program. I think every Jewish kid could especially benefit from what Year Course offers them. We have recommended Year Course to many families by talking about the experience. Both our son's experience and ours. Parents also change during the year. You have to let go, you have to trust your child and you have to be open to feeling some pain but hopefully much joy.

How has this experience changed your son's outlook and future?

Our son has grown in ways we are still learning about. First of all he is a much better student, now in his freshman college year, than we ever expected. He is much more worldly in that he is concerned about things and issues he never thought about. He is much more independent.