Academics and Faculty

An important and exciting component of Year Course is the formal academic program, geared to provide students with top level learning for both college credit and personal enrichment. Students learn a number of subjects in a variety of settings with educators who are highly trained and motivated. All Year Course participants take courses while in Israel and courses can be taken for credit or audited. Courses meet the high standards of our partner university, The American Jewish University, and are often transferable to other colleges and universities.

Courses fall into three main categories – Hebrew Language, Jewish Studies and Israeli Studies. A list of sample classes is available below.

Starting in 2010-11, formal academic classes will be offered in Bat Yam and Jerusalem while students in the Negev semester enjoy informal Hebrew classes meant to improve spoken communication.

In addition to academic courses, participants are engaged in fully accredited Hebrew language Ulpan (intensive Hebrew study) taught by talented and certified Ulpan teachers. Ulpan classes are designed for students who have studied Hebrew in school as well as for those who start by learning the Hebrew alphabet. Participants take Hebrew tests at the start of the program and at the end of each section so that they can be placed in the level best suited for them. Three semesters of Hebrew classes in combination with Israeli immersion help Year Course participants develop impressively strong Hebrew language abilities in just nine months.

In most cases, Year Course participants who are eligible to receive credit from The American Jewish University can earn 3 credits per class. Year Course Classic participants can earn up to 27 credits with additional credits available for those who participate in Kuma or Olami.



The following is a sampling of courses similar to what may be offered. Actual offerings may differ:

Biblical Rebels
Western culture portrays the ideal religious man as one who humbly and unquestioningly submits to the will of God. Jewish tradition, however, includes among its heroes people who challenged and even defied their Creator. In the Biblical Rebels course we will explore Biblical literature and commentary (traditional and modern) to try to understand the nature and qualities of five Biblical rebels, the contexts in which they acted, and their relationships with God.

The Genesis Parables: Chaos vs. Creativity
Chaos has always been considered a central character throughout the Genesis narratives as the main antagonist challenging the heroes who must confront its reality. The coming to terms with chaos in the guises of constraint and possibility, arbitrariness and chance, opposition and variety, contradiction and absurdity, will be considered as a key to understanding the parables of this paradigm of all books. The biblical dramas will be approached not as descriptions of past history, but as depictions of the recurring question – what is involved in the struggle at becoming a human being who lives one’s commitments with open-eyed recognition of the chaotic forces that simultaneously threaten and authenticate mortal existence? This course will embrace a wide range of sources – classical and contemporary; Jewish and non-Jewish; textual, artistic, musical and cinematic.

The Role of Sports in the Development of Zionism and Zionist History
The symbiotic relationship between sports and politics has become well documented in recent years. This course will examine the impact that sports has made on Zionist thought, history and contemporary Israeli culture, as well as the impact that these have made on Israeli and Palestinian sport.

War, Women and Song: The Life and Times of King David
While the Talmud notes an opinion that we are mistaken if we think that King David was guilty of any crimes (of passion or otherwise) during his life, the Biblical stories about him seem to tell us otherwise. This course will explore the psychological, spiritual, and ethical issues found in the Book of Samuel which confronted David, as well as other Jewish characters of ancient times. Students will study the biblical text closely and be asked to look beyond the text for additional insights into the lessons learned by these all too human personalities.


Arab Israeli Conflict
In this course we will discuss the Arab/Israeli conflict in terms of its basic themes (role of the major powers, regional trends and influences, root causes, the transformation of terrorism across the hundred years of the conflict, recurring themes and patterns of peace making, the role of the media, etc.). We will explore a range of ways of looking at the AIC in order to provide as comprehensive a focus as possible for understanding the conflict.

Medical and Business Ethics
This course aims to take contemporary ethical issues arising from sociological and technological advances, and study them from an abstract philosophical approach. The aim is not to give any practical ‘rulings’ on these matters, but rather to stimulate and encourage philosophical thought about these issues through the eyes of traditional Jewish sources and contemporary texts. We will look at issues such as doctors’ and patients’ rights, organ donation and receipt, smoking, mistreatment of animals, harming the environment, deceptive advertising, and other issues.

Taste of Arabic
Learning a language is an enriching and fascinating experience which provides a deeper understanding of a culture and the people speaking that language. During their year in Israel, students are naturally focusing on developing their knowledge and skills in Hebrew. This class, however, will open a window to the second official language in Israel – Arabic. In this unique course students will listen to Arabic music, watch films, hear lectures and visit unique places in Jerusalem and outside of the city, all possessing ‘a taste of Arabic’.

God talk Jewish Texts and Contemporary Music in the Experience of the Divine
Questions about the nature of God and about God’s relationship with human beings are an essential aspect of human existence. Individuals often develop implicit theologies– unexamined beliefs about the nature of God, humanity, and their interaction. In becoming informed adults, young Jewish adults must grapple with theological questions and develop a better understanding of their own evolving personal theology. By examining both historical and contemporary approaches to theological issues, students will have the opportunity to deepen and broaden their understanding of their personal theologies.


Text and Tablet: Sources for the Jews and the Ancient Near East
This is an advanced class tracing the development of the world of ideas of Ancient Israel and her neighbors through an investigation of the Bible, and extra-biblical literary and non-literary texts. Evidence will be sought in the biblical text, letters and administrative documents from Israel and her neighbors in the ancient period, as well as the archaeological record. Students will also read ancient cuneiform literary classics such as the Babylonian creation narrative Enuma Elish, The Gilgamesh Epic and ancient Sumerian and Akkadian flood narratives. The class will be conducted in a seminar atmosphere and will include lectures and discussions based on close readings and discussion of written sources. Students will be expected to present short seminar presentations on selected Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern texts.

The David Project: Power of Persuasion
Hasbara is the Hebrew word often used to officially describe or explain the government of Israel’s policies abroad. This course in Israel advocacy will analyze the history and subtleties of Israel’s diplomacy. Often lamented by viewers of the BBC, CNN, or other media outlets, Israel’s Hasbara has undergone a maturation of sorts and politicians and government ministers are looking to increase the training of students to promote Israel’s cause in an effective and clear manner on a local level of influence. Through reviewing the history of modern Zionism and studying current trends in Middle East, students will gain a greater insight to the complex and challenging war of words. Defending Israel on a college campus isn’t always easy but it is quite necessary. In this course, students will learn the techniques of debating and analyzing the nuances of anti-Israel arguments to properly fight back stereotypes and prejudices.


The academic courses on Year Course are taught by scholars who are distinguished not only by their academic credentials, but by their record of success in making complex material accessible to inquisitive young people.


Courses given through Year Course are supervised and credit for successful completion is awarded by the American Jewish University (AJU), formerly known as the University of Judaism. Founded in 1947 and located in the Los Angeles (CA) suburb of Bel Air, AJU is a rigorous liberal arts college with a strong national standing, built upon Jewish values and dedicated to developing Jewish leadership in both the secular and religious community. AJU is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), one of six regional associations that accredit public and private schools, colleges and universities in the United States.

Most Year Course applicants take the courses on a for-credit basis as non-matriculated students of AJU. In order to do so, they must have at least a 2.0 academic GPA upon graduating high school and must submit an official high school transcript as part of the Year Course application process (transcripts must be in English, must be accompanied by a 4.0 grading scale and must be submitted by a post-graduation date to be determined by AJU). A separate application to AJU is not required. Upon successful completion of the program, participants receive an AJU transcript and may apply to the college they will be attending to transfer the credits. AJU credits are accepted at a wide range of colleges and universities throughout the United States and Canada. It is the responsibility of the participant to determine whether his/her college of choice will accept AJU credits and colleges often make the determination whether to accept transfer credits on a course-by-course basis.