Israel By Choice (IBC) is a 5, 7 or 10 month program for students aged 18-20 who are interested in a long term gap- year program in Israel.
The 5-month program begins in Jerusalem where participants choose between a variety of options such as volunteering, Israel advocacy, Yeshiva/Midrasha or Hadracha (Leadership). The following phases of the program involve a month in Tel Aviv and a month in Eilat where participants will engage in volunteering, touring and a more in-depth learning about the country and its people.
This is followed by a trip to Greece for 3 weeks where participants will have the opportunity to volunteer with refugees in a variety of capacities through an Israeli government Organisation (The Greece trip is also dependent on Covid-19 restrictions and is subject to not happen unless is safe and approved)
Participants who stay for the 7 month program will have the opportunity to choose between a variety of options including volunteering for Magen David Adom, internships in the centre of Israel or working as a Madrich/a (leader) on a Jewish summer camp in North America.
The last three months are spent on Mechina Kol Ami; an educational institution with young Israelis who are on their ‘gap year’ before starting military service. During this time, participants live, learn and participate in various activities with members of the Mechina, developing lifelong friendships.
IBC is open to participants from all levels of religious background, political belief and community involvement. The program observes all laws of Shabbat and Kashrut to allow those wishing to observe these customs the opportunity to do so, and to establish mutual respect between participants.
The 5 month program have elements of independent living, where participants will have to cook/clean an budget for themselves while still being involved in the volunteering and tracks. Participants will also be travelling around the country on tours, hikes and educational programs throughout the 5 month period.
Taking the gap?
Personally, there really was never a debate on whether to take a gap year or not. I had always decided that before I start Uni, I wanted to spend a year travelling. The decision I made was without doubt the right one for me. As I was leaving South Africa to come live and study in Melbourne, it was a huge bonus being on the IBC programme with 70 Australians. There is no question that it made the transition to a new country so much easier. But besides for that, the year away from a structured studying environment and away from a supportive home environment, helped me develop a greater independence while at the same time exposing me to many new people and cultures. Importantly, having started at Uni, I feel motivated with a more open mind for studying.