College Advisors Discover a Wide Range of Gap Year Programs in Israel

June 4, 2008

Unlike regular tourists, the 15 high school college advisors and gap year consultants who visited Israel in October as part of Masa Israel Journey’s semi-annual study trip to Israel were “on a mission.”
The professionals, chosen from more than 70 applicants from Jewish, private and public high schools and independent consultancies from around the country, came to Israel to learn about different gap year options in Israel and to experience the culture and society in which these programs take place.
 
During the trip, the college advisors visited programs like Kivunim, Young Judaea Year Course, the Rimon School of Jazz and Contemporary Music, and Kibbutz Ulpan, where they had the opportunity to meet with current program participants.
 
“It’s clear that the students are not only having fun, but are regularly exposed to things on a very real level,” said Collegewise Consultant Arun Ponnusamy who, like many of the professionals, was impressed with the young adults he met. “On Kivunim, for example, they learn Arabic and discuss different political issues in the region. I would have loved to sit down with one of these students when I was on campus and learn about their experiences.”  
 
“One of the things I was struck by—despite the fact that we spent most of our time in Jerusalem—was how secular the country was,” adds Mr. Ponnusamy. “A gap year program in Israel isn’t exclusively for one of my clients who went to Camp Ramah since age four. A kid that knows he’s Jewish simply because he has a Jewish last name would relish being in that environment.”
 
For Sharon Horowitz, director of Judaica High School in Florida, which hopes to send its first batch of graduating seniors on gap year programs in Israel next year, the mission drove home the importance of taking a gap year in Israel
 
“From a student’s point of view, the experience of a gap year program in Israel can help them get into a college of their choice, makes them more mature once they enter college, often allows them to earn college credits, and enables them to be on their own within a structured environment with supervision,” Horowitz says. “From a professional standpoint, these students spend 10 months in Israel, living and breathing Israel, connected to the land and the people, and as Jewish educators, that’s everything we want.”
           
Another Masa Israel Journey-sponsored gap year mission for college advisors will leave in January.  Also in January, a Masa-sponsored mission for university career center professionals will visit a variety of volunteer and internship programs, such as Career Israel, OTZMA, WUJS, and Israel Service Corps, for post-college students. 
 
Masa maintains close ties with past mission participants, following up with their students about programs that interest them and keeping them up-to-date on programs’ changes.
 
For more information about Masa’s missions, please contact Masa North American Director Avi Rubel.
 
The October 2008 gap year mission included:
 
Deerfield, IL, Student Extended Experiences Counseling (SEEC), Marsha Ray
Denver, CO and Santa Fe, NM, Certified Educational Planner, Estelle Meskin
Detroit, MI, Frankel Jewish Academy, Evelyn and Louis Wolff
Los Angeles, CA, Collegewise, Arun Ponnusamy
Maitland, FL, Community Hebrew High, Erica Hruby
Miami, FL, Judaica High School, Sharon Horowitz
Montreal, QC, Hebrew Academy, Linda Lehrer
Natick, MA, Walnut Hill High School, Sarah Van Doel,
Prairie Village, KS, Shawnee Mission East High School, Lili and Larry Englebrick
Sausalito, CA, David Denman, Private Educational Consultant
Scottsdale, AZ, Saguaro High School, Robert Liebman
Web-Based, Planet Gap Year, Paul Mahone
 
The January 2008 gap year mission included:
 
Atlanta, GA, The Weber School, Sharon Karpel
Atlanta, GA, Woodward Academy, Missy Sanchez
Bellevue, WA, College Placement Consultants, Pauline Reiter
Bethesda, MD, The Walt Whitman School, Frances Landau
Brooklyn, NY, High School of the Telecommunication Arts and Technology, Christina Mednick
Coral Gables, FL, Aspire Educational Solution, Philip Ross
Cote-St-Luc, QC, Bialik High School, Janet Dwoskin and Leonie Richler
Glenn Cove, NY, Solomon Schechter School of Long Island, Madelynn Schwarz
Hartsdale, NY, Solomon Schechter of Westchester, Heath Einstein
Hightstown, NJ, Peddie School, Edward de Villafranca
Houston, TX, The Emery/Weiner School, Lynn Slaughter
Los Angeles, CA, Milken Community High School, Jennifer H. Lee
Montreal, QC, Royal Vale School, Cathy Schreiber
Newton, MA, Newton South High School, Barbara Brown
New York, NY, Trinity School, Elizabeth Pleshette
North Hollywood, CA, Harvard-Westlake School, Rose Ellen Racanelli
North Miami Beach, FL, Ben Lipson Hillel Community High School, Allan Wolf
Reseda, CA, Cleveland High School, Sharon Drell
Riverdale, NY, SAR High School, Marjorie Jacobs
Rockville, MD, Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, Melissa Gartner
Phoenix, AZ, Jess Schwartz Jewish Community High School, Audrey Lewis
Pittsburgh, PA, Shadyside Academy, Virginia Maddux
Santa Fe, NM, Santa Fe Preparatory School and College Quest, Inc., Levia Nahary
Scarsdale, NY, Scarsdale High School, Lynda Mandlawitz
Seattle, WA, College Placement Services, Linda Jacobs
Shaker Heights, OH, Shaker Heights High School, Eileen Blattner
Toronto, ON, TanenbaumCHAT South Campus, Carol Morton
Van Nuys, CA, Los Angeles Unified School District, District 1, Linda Zimring
Vaughn ON, TanenbaumCHAT North Campus, Caryn Nutik
Waltham, MA, Gann Academy/New Jewish High School of Greater Boston, Anne Levy
West Bloomfield, MI, Frankel Jewish Academy, Patricia Bostwick and Lee Buckman
West Hills, CA, New Community Jewish High School, Marc Lindner
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