Participants in BINA Gap Year come from communities throughout North America, Europe, and around the world for 5 or 10 months of intensive learning, social action and communal group life. The Gap Year group is a part of BINA’s Mechina, a vibrant community of over 50 Israeli high school graduates taking their own gap year, learning and doing social action in Tel Aviv before they begin their army service.
Your learning program will include an in-depth look into classical Jewish texts (Tanakh and Talmud) from a pluralistic perspective; Jewish thought and philosophy; social justice and activism; and Zionism and Israel studies. You’ll also experience living in an active and diverse community, shaping holiday celebrations, Shabbat services and cultural activities throughout the year, managing a monthly budget and planning trips and other educational activities.
During the first 5-month semester, you’ll take part in Hebrew language studies (Ulpan), as well as English-language classes, tours and field trips throughout the country in order to learn about Israeli society and history first hand. If you choose to continue on for a full 10 months, you’ll be fully immersed in Hebrew alongside your Israeli peers!
For information about tuition, applications and financial aid, click here
LIVE in the Exciting City of Tel Aviv with Israelis Your Own Age
BINA Gap Year offers you a unique opportunity to live, study and volunteer with Israelis your own age, and be part of a community of young activists in south Tel Aviv. As a BINA participant, you will be an integral part of the BINA’s Mechina (Israeli gap year).
Life at BINA Gap Year
Two days each week will be dedicated to studying at the BINA Secular Yeshiva; an additional two days each week will be dedicated to social action; and one day every week will be dedicated to various enrichment activities – tours within and outside Tel Aviv, encounters with a variety of activists from different backgrounds, activities with Israeli peers, and more. Shabbat and holidays will be celebrated in a pluralistic, inclusive atmosphere designed and led by you and your fellow participants.
You’ll live in apartments in the south Tel Aviv neighborhood of Shapira. The apartments are fully furnished and equipped with all of the basic necessities. You will be sharing a room with one or two students from the program, and next door to your Israeli peers.
Living in a group
Our program encourages you 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, or are provided during learning days.
VOLUNTEER in the Community and Create Social Change
You’ll work with populations of all ages, focused on the communities in your south Tel Aviv neighborhood. Our goal is to identify the needs of the local community and try to answer these needs to the extent possible by supplying volunteers, and providing support and empowerment to the local neighborhood residents. Although specific placements may vary, you’ll be volunteering on one of the following areas:
* Tutoring in public schools in underprivileged neighborhoods (all ages)
* Working with children with disabilities, including running sports activities
* Running enrichment programs at community centers in underprivileged neighborhoods
* Working with South Tel Aviv’s migrant worker population
* Working with South Tel Aviv’s asylum seeker population (mostly from Darfur or Eritrea). This includes teaching English, helping in kindergartens and more
* And much more!
At the beginning of the program, you’ll have an opportunity to tour the different volunteering options and, with the guidance of BINA staff and according to your abilities and strengths, you’ll choose your volunteer projects for the duration of the program.
You will also receive professional training and supervision, on an individual and group basis, throughout the program.
STUDY the Jewish Bookshelf
On BINA Gap Year, you will learn about central themes in Judaism, and gain a familiarity with the richness of the Jewish bookshelf, particularly Tanakh (Bible), Mishna, Talmud, Jewish philosophy and contemporary Hebrew literature.
You’ll meet great Jewish philosophers throughout the ages, including Rabbi Akiva, Maimonides, Spinoza, Isaiah Leibowitz and more. You’ll also learn political philosophy and explore issues in contemporary Israeli society from a broad range of perspectives.
Classes will take place at BINA’s Secular Yeshiva, located in the heart of South Tel Aviv, and are taught by BINA’s outstanding and renowned teaching staff. Classes are conducted in an informal learning atmosphere with an emphasis on small group learning and open discussions.
You’ll begin the program with a period of intensive Ulpan study with experienced and highly qualified Hebrew Ulpan teachers. You will be placed in the appropriate group level, based on a diagnostic test. The Ulpan classes are designed to get your Hebrew to a functional level for your volunteering, day-to-day life and basic interactions with your Israeli peers. You’ll continue to have Ulpan sessions throughout the duration of the first semester to help you keep improving your Hebrew. Even if you come with no Hebrew at all, you can reach a functional level by the end of the first semester to enable you to take part in the fully-immersive second semester.
If you already speak Hebrew fluently, you can be exempted from Ulpan classes, and/or have the opportunity to learn in Hebrew classes alongside the Israeli participants. If you think this might apply to you, please contact us for more information.
Israel Seminar: Trips, Tours and Encounters
BINA Gap Year, includes a weekly Israel Seminar which provides you with an opportunity to learn first-hand about Israeli society, culture and politics.
The Israel seminar will include encounters with key members in Israeli society, representing a wide range of leaders and social activists from Tel Aviv – Jaffa and other parts of the country. Some key figures who have met BINA participants in the past include Brig. Gen. Yossi Eldar, a veteran of the Yom Kippur war; MK Stav Shafir; renowned philosopher Prof. Asa Kasher; Israeli author and novelist Haim Be’er, Journalist and writer Dov Elbaum and many more.
In addition, the seminar will include day tours and excursions throughout Israel, including tours to Hebron, Jerusalem’s Old City, the Negev Desert, the Golan Heights, and more. Many excursions will be “off the beaten track”, such as a visit to unrecognized Bedouin villages or an encounter with the Druze community in the Carmel.
BINA Gap Year will also join the Mechina participants on various field trips throughout the country that will include activities such as hiking, camping and other exciting outdoor activities.
The BINA GAP Year program is a joint project between BINA: The Jewish Movement for Social Change and is a Masa Israel program (www.masaisrael.org).
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