The American Israel Gap Year Association (AIGYA) will be holding its annual Los Angeles Israel Gap Year Fair at B’nai David-Judea Congregation on Thursday evening, November 17th, at 6:30-9:30 p.m. 40 Israeli programs will be represented at the fair, some of them new for this year.
In addition to traditional learning for all levels, such as yeshivos and seminaries, there are also academic programs offering college credits, touring, Ulpan, kibbutz work, internships, vocational programs, and a transitional program that prepares students for serving in the Israeli army. Some programs are separated by gender while others are co-ed. “There is truly something for everyone,” says Phillys Folb, executive director of AIGYA.
The fair is intended for young men and women across the religious spectrum. Six local high schools are sponsoring the event: YULA Boys and Girls High Schools, Valley Torah, Harkham Gaon Academy, Shalhevet, Milken Community School, and De Toledo High School, which speaks to the cross-denominational support of the concept. The trend of spending a year after high school in Israel is now becoming popular even outside of the Orthodox community, fueled by the variety of programs offered and the growing statistical evidence that the Gap Year in Israel is transformative both academically and personally, explains Ms. Folb.
There is a growing trend to identify this important experience as less Gap Year and more Bridge year connecting previous Jewish education to their next educational experience. Young men and women come back from a year in Israel more mature and better prepared to go on to secular educational institutions. Additionally, this year of growth solidifies the students’ Jewish identity and connection to Israel, making them more inclined to seek out Jewish engagement on campus and in the future.
In fact, the theme of this year’s fair is “Bridging the Gap: The Transformative Year in Israel.” The keynote speaker, Ron Krudo, “Stand with Us” Director of Campus Life, will discuss the positive impact of a year in Israel on students’ college experiences. Ernest Katz, PhD, a clinical psychologist, will speak about the emotional growth students experience during their gap year. The attendees will also hear from past students – “people who have indeed been transformed,” explains Ms. Folb.
Local Jewish high schools encourage their students to attend the fair. While the students might be familiar with some gap year programs through their school, the fair offers a much greater variety of opportunities. “The fair allows students to explore different options and to take ownership of their choices, making for a more productive year,” says Ms. Folb.
Also on hand at the Fair are representatives from colleges such as UCLA, USC, CSUN, AJU, YU, Touro LA, ORT, SMC, LA Valley and Pierce Colleges to discuss the options after the year in Israel.
In addition to local high schools, the fair is also supported by its longtime sponsor, MASA Israel Journeys, as well as local synagogues, including host B’nai David-Judea, Beth Jacob, Young Israel Century City, Beverly Hills Synagogue, and the Westwood Kehilla.
More information about the Israel Gap Year Fair may be obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, finding them on facebook @ Israelgapyear, or calling (310) 702-0644.