BINA Gap Year in TLV

FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

Bina's Gap Year Program in Tel Aviv offers you a unique and exciting opportunity to experience Israel first hand, combine in-depth study of Judaism with meaningful social action and live in a vibrant community in south Tel Aviv. Please read through the following information, and feel free to contact us if you still have questions:gapyear@bina.org.il

A. The Basics

What is BINA?

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” 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. BINA is a vibrant center for Jewish learning and social action operating a variety of programs for children and adults in schools and neighborhood centers in Tel Aviv-Jaffa and throughout Israel. For more information about BINA click here!

What does “Mechina” mean?

Mechina literally means “to prepare.” The name of our program is an Israeli term, referring to a year of studies and social action after graduating high school. Our Mechina at BINA combines Jewish studies and social action, seeking to educate young Jews about important tenets of Judaism, and about how to put them into practice with social action and grassroots activism in the neediest parts of Tel Aviv-Jaffa.

What is the Secular Yeshiva?

The BINA Secular Yeshiva is the first non-orthodox institution of its kind in Israel. At the Secular Yeshiva, young adults study Jewish texts and Jewish culture intensively from sources ranging from the Bible and Gemara to classic Israeli literature and Zionist history. Students learn with renowned experts from the fields of academia, Jewish scholarship and social activism, and then discuss the texts in “hevruta” (traditional method of study in pairs). The Tel Aviv Secular Yeshiva, established in 2006, hosts more than 200 students and over 4,000 visitors from Israel and around the world each year. BINA Gap Year is located at the Tel Aviv Secular Yeshiva, located in the Nature Gardens campus in south Tel Aviv. Since the Tel Aviv Secular Yeshiva’s opening 10 years ago, BINA has opened additional Secular Yeshivot in Be’er Sheva and Jerusalem.
Click here to read more about the Secular Yeshiva.

What does living in a group mean?

BINA encourages its students to live as a group using communal resources. This means many daily living decisions are made as a group, democratically and by discussion. In addition, the group has a joint sum of money which is used collectively for buying groceries and other necessities, meals are usually cooked together.

B. Program Overview

How will the connection with the Israeli peers fit into the program?

Israeli and International Mechina participants will live in a shared residence in the neighborhood nearby the yeshiva, and will volunteer together in the neighborhood. Participants will be paired-up or work as a group in the same schools, day care centers and other volunteer placements. Many of the program trips and tours will be together too.

What will my weekly schedule look like?

Two days each week will be dedicated to studying at the BINA Secular Yeshiva. Two days each week will be dedicated to social action. 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 etc. Shabbat will be celebrated in a pluralistic, inclusive atmosphere based on the inclinations of the group.

What are the program dates?

Upcoming program dates are:
5 months: August 25, 2017 – February 2nd, 2018

10 months: August 25, 2017 – June 15, 2018 (second semester is full Hebrew immersion)

Do we get a break during the semester?

Yes, there are breaks during major Jewish holidays, and a short break between semesters (end of January/beginning of February). Please contact us for specific dates.

What are the destinations of the program day-tours?

Program day tours will include excursions throughout Israel, including tours to Hebron, old Jerusalem, tour to the south of Israel, the Golan heights, and more. Many excursions will be “off the beaten track” like a visit to unrecognized Bedouin villages or an encounter with the Druze community in the Carmel.

C. Living in Tel Aviv

What are the living accommodations like?

Participants will live in apartments situated in the south Tel Aviv neighborhood of Shapira. The apartments are fully furnished and equipped with basic kitchen appliances and wireless internet. You’ll live alongside your Israeli peers from the mechina program, and among the populations that you will serve in your volunteering. Please note you will be sharing a room with one or two roommates.

Although the apartments are well maintained and comfortable, it is important to remember that they are located in a lower-income neighborhood, and may not be up to the standards that some participants are used to. However, the apartments are certainly suitable for long-term living arrangements, and fulfill all safety and hygienic standards set forth by the Israeli Ministry of Education and Masa.

Where in Tel Aviv will I live during the program?

The Mechina apartments are located in the Shapira neighborhoods of South Tel Aviv. They are conveniently located around 10 minutes (walk) from the Tel Aviv New Central Bus Station and Hagannah Train Station. You will be about 10 minutes walk from the BINA Secular Yeshiva campus, where your studies will take place. Apartments are just a short bus ride from the center of Tel Aviv, so that all of Tel Aviv is easily within your reach!

Who are the staff members?

The BINA Gap Year staff is comprised of your madricha (counselor) and the administrative staff. Your madricha will be your guide throughout the program, and will be on call 24/7 in case of emergencies. In addition, BINA Gap Year is supported by the BINA International Department staff. With over a decade of experience in running excellent international programs, the BINA International Department will handle everything from helping you get your visa, to arranging your health insurance, to helping you arrange your tuition payment.

The Secular Yeshiva’s pedagogical staff includes top end Israeli lecturers from a variety of fields, experts from the fields of academia, Jewish scholarship and social activism. Volunteering and social action is supervised by a seasoned staff with over 10 years of experience in the field.

D. Hebrew/Study

E. Social Action

What kind of social action will be done?

Mechina & Gap Year participants work with populations of all ages, however many assignments focus on educating children. 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, a broad assortment of opportunities will be made available in the following general 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 refugee population (including many refugees from Darfur). This includes teaching English, helping in kindergartens and more
* and many more!

Participants will have an opportunity to tour the various volunteering options and, with the guidance of Mechina staff and according to the participants’ personal abilities and strengths, will choose volunteer projects for the duration of the program.
All participants will receive professional training and supervision, on an individual and group basis, throughout the program.

F. Applications and Admissions

Where can I find an application for BINA’s Mechina Gap Year Tel Aviv?

Check out our applications page for information on how to download an application, or request to receive one in the mail.

Can I still apply for BINA Gap Year in Tel Aviv if I am outside of the recommended age range?

Yes. We will make decisions on a case-by-case basis to determine if such individuals will be a good fit for our program. To find out more, please contact us.

G. Financial Matters

What does my tuition payment include?

Your tuition payment includes:
• Educational programming, including Hebrew Ulpan, and studies at the Secular Yeshiva in Tel Aviv
• Prepared meals at the Secular Yeshiva during learning days
• Accommodations in Tel Aviv (including apartments and all utilities)
• Group living expenses for collectively buying food and cleaning supplies
• Educational tours, overnight trips and seminars
• Bus fare to and from volunteering, program trips, etc. (tuition does not include bus fare for private travel in Israel)
• Health insurance

What are the tuition costs?

The tuition for the 5 month program in 2017-18 will be $10,500
The tuition for the 10 month program in 2017-18 will be $17,000
Please note that this does not include airfare to Israel. Additional tuition & scholarship information for the 2016-17 programming year is available on our Application Process page.

H. Technical Details

Does the program include health insurance?

Yes, 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, a very short walk from the apartments. Please be advised that your health insurance will not cover preexisting conditions, and thus it is recommended that participants taking prescription medications for preexisting medical conditions bring enough with them to last the duration of the program. Your madricha (counselor) and BINA’s International Department staff are ready and available to help you navigate the health system and use your health insurance when needed (and, in certain cases, may even make you some chicken soup!)

Don't see your question here? Please feel free to contact us!

BINA Gap Year Admissions Coordinator | gapyear@bina.org.il