American Israel Gap Year Fair to Take Place in Los Angeles


American Israel Gap Year Fair to Take Place in Los Angeles

Yehudis Litvak

The annual American Israel Gap Year Fair will take place this year on November 16th, 7:00 – 10:00 p.m., at YULA Girls School. As always, the fair will feature a wide array of gap year programs – for boys, for girls, and co-ed – spanning the religious spectrum and representing a variety of personal interests.

The gap year is “key to Jewish life experience” for recent high school graduates, explains Phyllis Folb, Executive Director of the American Israel Gap-Year Association (AIGYA). “This year, these students will take ownership of their Jewish life,” she says. While their previous Jewish experiences were arranged for them by their parents, schools, camps, or community institutions, the first year after high school is the first time in their lives that the students choose for themselves how Jewishly involved they would like to be.

When Jewish students do not take advantage of the gap year opportunities, explains Folb, they are at risk of distancing themselves from the Jewish community during their first year in college. Drawn into other exciting events at college, such students are less likely to engage in Jewish life on campus. Gap year graduates, on the other hand, tend to be more Jewishly committed, as well as more mature and more motivated to excel in their studies.

The American Israel Gap Year Fair is the only cross-denominational such fair in the country. Opportunities to spend a year in Israel are available to every Jewish student, independently of their religious background or prior Jewish education.

The fair is sponsored by schools, synagogues, and organizations across the spectrum of the L.A. Jewish community. The founding sponsors, as every year, are American Israel Gap Year Association (AIGYA) and Masa Israel Journey. Among the newest community sponsors is Touro College LA, along with past sponsors, YULA Girls School, YULA Boys School, De Toledo High School, Harkham GAON Academy, Shalhevet High School, Valley Torah High School, and NCSY. The synagogues sponsoring the fair are Adat Shalom & Beth Am, Beth Jacob, Bnai David-Judaea, Beverly Hills Synagogue, Westwood Kehilla, and Young Israel of Century City. The fair is endorsed by the American Jewish University, the American Gap Association, USA Gap Year Fairs, and USY.

About 40-plus programs come to the local fair. Some of them are academic, others focus on arts or high tech, and yet others emphasize leadership. New to this year’s fair is the opportunity for each program to give a short presentation describing their offerings. The schedule of presentations will be available to all attendees who register in advance. Both the students and their parents will be able to engage in a conversation with the representatives in order to ensure that they choose a program that is the right fit for them. Additional counseling services are available through AIGYA to facilitate the best fit.

In addition, the families will have the opportunity to meet representatives from local colleges that are gap year friendly and have a large Jewish infrastructure, such as Touro, AJU, UCLA, and CSUN. They will provide the information on how to transfer credits and transition into college after the gap year.

Financial information will also be presented at the fair, including the Jewish Free Loan’s Israel Experience Loan for gap year students.

For more information you can visit the AIGYA website, and to register directly you can go to