We affirm Gil Troy and Natan Sharansky’s strong statements [in Sapir Volume 4: Can a Year in Israel Transform Your Teen?] about the importance of a gap year experience and their vision of an expansion into a “universal gap year.” As we at Young Judaea celebrate our 70th year as one of the largest non-Orthodox gap year providers, we aim to suggest some pragmatic solutions and relevant success stories towards the vision of making a large-scale expansion for the Israel gap year market a reality.

The article posits that one of the challenges to a universal gap year is the quality or content of the programs in that they lack the “resume building appeal,” rather than acknowledging their value in providing a life-changing journey of self-actualization and growth. The market is looking for value-added programs, not just a college year in Israel. A gap year in Israel provides much more than a resume building opportunity with the chance to develop soft skills. Participants begin a self-actualizing process by immersing themselves in a diverse community, taking part in experiential education, participating in identity building exercises, all while exposing themselves to a wide range of ideas.

In addition, participants learn to master the seemingly benign but critical life skills of living independently, having to manage a budget for the year, cook an occasional meal, do laundry, and manage social situations. For a young person, the opportunity to spend a self-actualizing year abroad provides an accelerated track of maturity that is incomparable to their peers who go straight to university. It’s easier to fill gaps in knowledge than to fill gaps in character.

So, how do we create a tipping point towards a “universal leap year”?

Read the full article by Adina Frydman, CEO of Young Judaea Global, in The Times of Israel