About Us

Dr. Avi Rose was born in New York and raised in Winnipeg, Canada. A second generation Jewish educator, Avi’s parents and brothers are Rabbis and teachers. Avi holds a Bachelor’s degree in History, a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology and a PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Toronto. Over the past twenty years he has served as a Jewish educator in Canada and Israel, teaching all age groups in formal and informal settings. In 2002 Avi participated in the Mandel School’s Jerusalem Fellows program, where he developed the concept of an arts-based Zionist Education. Since making aliyah in 2003, Avi has been a member of the Year Course staff and faculty. An author, lecturer and visual artist, Avi has participated in several group exhibitions, the last being held at the Hadassah Art Gallery in November of 2009. He specializes in arts-based education and has been responsible for creating courses related to Jewish Art and Zionist/Hebrew culture. Avi is married to Binyamin, a psychotherapist and lives in Jerusalem.

Welcome to Young Judaea Year Course in Israel

Welcome to Young Judaea Year Course in Israel, the largest gap year program for recent high school graduates. Over the course of nine months, Year Course participants immerse themselves in all aspects of Israeli life and culture – learning Hebrew, interacting with their Israeli peers, developing an appreciation for their Jewish heritage and exploring Israel through a variety of volunteer placements. Accredited college-level courses, extensive travel, independent/group living are all available with so much more!

 Program Overview

All Year Course participants spend one-third of their program year – about three months – in each of three locations: the majesty of Jerusalem, the beaches of Bat Yam and the beauty of the Negev.  Each of these regions exposes participants to different parts of Israeli history, different environments and different cultural communities.  Combined, the three locations present a well-rounded picture of the Israeli landscape.  The sequence of the locations in which a participant lives may vary and, in each, participants live, take part in formal and/or informal study, learn Hebrew in an Ulpan setting, participate in volunteer work and enjoy a variety of engaging enrichment activities.

Bat Yam Community Impact: Participants live in apartments in this seaside suburb just outside Tel Aviv.  Bat Yam has long been an economically disadvantaged city and Year Course participants live in a lower socio-economic neighborhood and have the opportunity to contribute mightily through their volunteer work.  Year Course has a long and close relationship with the community, which provides a municipal building for our classrooms.  Participants study, volunteer, practice their Hebrew skills and enjoy easy access to the nightlife and excitement of Tel Aviv, the booming metropolis next door.  Young Judaea’s sister movement is the Tzofim (Israeli Scouts).  While in Bat Yam, chanichim are mixed with a group of Tzofim their age who are deferring their army service in order to volunteer.  The Tzofim live with our participants in the apartments, volunteer with them, take them to their homes to meet their families and friends, plan weekend activities for them and show them what it is like to be an Israeli.

Jerusalem has always been central to the Year Course program and Year Course chanichim spend their Jerusalem semester at Beit Ar-El – a fully renovated apartment and academic complex which became the headquarters for Young Judaea in Israel starting in 2009.  Located in the Baka neighborhood of Jerusalem, chanichim have access to the history and majesty of the Old City as well as the vibrancy and culture of Emek Refaim Street and its restaurants, shops, theaters, diverse Jewish community and easy reach of downtown and all key areas of central Jerusalem.  Participants who do not live in Beit Ar-El live in apartments nearby and all participants study on campus and volunteer in programs and projects throughout the Eternal City.

Negev Israel Experience: Imagine David Ben Gurion looking out across the expansive desert and dreaming of a populated, flourishing region.  During the Negev Israel Experience semester, Year Course participants will participate in Ben Gurion’s dream of contributing to a region that rarely receives the much needed influx of volunteers, fresh young energy and heart-felt help.  There are four options from which Year Course participants choose while they are in the Negev semester:

Marva / Sar El: The Israeli Army – the IDF – is a big part of the Israeli identity and, at the age of 18, almost every Israeli has to serve 2-3 years in the IDF.  One of the ways to truly understand Israeli society is through a military experience.  Year Course participants who want a taste of Israeli army life are encouraged to be part of Marva, a military training specialty program, offered as an 8-week option during the Negev semester.  During the army program the participants take part in a simulation of army life that includes:

  • Wearing uniforms
  • Being under military discipline and rules
  • Going through physical army training
  • Learning how to navigate
  • Shooting guns in a shooting range
  • Meeting with Israeli soldier and officers
  • Visiting and volunteering in army bases around the country
  • Learning about famous battles in the history of Israel and the IDF
  • Learning about the different units in the army

Kibbutz Ketura / Shvil Israel: Participants will live and volunteer on Kibbutz Ketura, founded by Young Judaea alumni and located 30 minutes north of Eilat.  The students in this option will spend two months assisting on the kibbutz (working in the dining hall, kitchen,helping with housekeeping and packaging dates) and one month hiking in the southern part of the country, guided by tour guides.

Outdoor / Desert Experience: This option is for participants who love the outdoors and want to spend their Negev semester working and touring outside.  Participants will live in apartments in Arad and will volunteer in different outdoor locations ranging from Ein Gedi to Masada and beyond.  Participants will go on a series of informal excursions to help with riverbed clean-up, marking trails and learning about the geography and environment of Israel’s desert region.

Social Action Experience: This option is for participants who want to make a difference to the people in a small desert town.  They will live in apartments in Arad and volunteer with social action projects ranging from special needs organizations to Sudanese refugee assistance to coexistence projects at Bedouin schools.  Participants will go on a series of informal excursions throughout the semester to explore important social action work being done around the region.

The town of Arad will serve as the home-base for students in the Negev semester, regardless of which option they choose. Arad is a development town in Israel’s southern desert.  It is home to substantial populations of new immigrants to Israel who appreciate the interaction with Year Course volunteers to aid in their absorption and adjustment to Israeli society.  Year Course participants strengthen their Hebrew skills while helping shape the lives of new Israelis and enjoying the landscape, climate and drama of the desert.

Jewish Observance

Young Judaea is a religiously pluralistic and politically non-partisan movement. Members run the range of the religious and political spectrum. Jewish tradition is an important and highly valued element of all of Young Judaea’s programs. Young Judaea strives for true religious pluralism so that each participant can feel comfortable and welcome regardless of his or her background.

During the year, no Year Course programming or travel violates Shabbat. All group activities, such as tiyulim and seminars, maintain Kashrut. Traditional Young Judaea religious activities are observed on group Shabbatot, and observance of Kashrut and public observance of Shabbat is expected of all Year Course participants. All suites and apartments are kosher.

All levels of personal observance are respected so long as they do not disturb the Shabbat or holiday atmosphere. Participants are encouraged to involve themselves in Shabbat and holiday activities, and are provided with options for synagogue or family hospitality that will expose them to the rich religious and cultural alternatives existing in Israel.

In addition to our main program (Year Course Classic), Young Judaea offers two tracks of Year Course geared towards specific religious needs.

Shevet is designed for participants who are interested in exploring Jewish observance during their year in Israel, but may not be prepared to commit to Orthodox observance.

Shalem is the Orthodox track of Year Course. Shalem is designed for students who are interested in experiencing the Year Course program in a Modern Orthodox environment. Shalem adds traditional Torah study and special group activities to provide an atmosphere which is conducive to religious and personal growth.

The Year Course program is organized in three semesters, each in a different and distinct location in Israel and each including academic study, Hebrew language Ulpan and engaging with / contributing to Israeli society through intensive volunteering experience.

The program also includes a number of optional “Extras” including weekly siyurim (field trips), special seminars, tiyulim (hikes), cultural and social activities, additional international travel opportunities, a Family Tour and more!

Year Course is an intensive group experience and requires of its participants the ability to adjust to cultural differences and other new situations. Participants live in close quarters with their group for most of the year – traveling, studying and volunteering together – enabling life-long friendships to be formed.

For more information about each aspect of the Year Course program, please click on the tabs and sub-category tabs found above. They are designed to paint a picture of the accommodations, volunteering opportunities, classes and other exciting components of Year Course. 

Year Course is an enriching gap-year program that provides participants the opportunity
to experience many different aspects of Israeli life.

It’s the experience of a lifetime!