Hashomer Ha’atzair’s Gap year program features a range of components, each with their own unique atmosphere and educational aims.
The program is divided into three sections. The first section is known as Machon, an intensive educational program with Gap Year participants from Australia and all over the world. The second part of the program involves participants living together on a communa where they learn to live responsibly and cooperate together as a kvutza (group). This period also involves volunteering in underprivileged communities and provides participants with an opportunity to experience meaningful encounters in Israeli society. The last part of the program involves living on Kibbutz Givat Oz. This three month period is designed to give both a theoretical and practical understanding of kibbutz life and the movements ideology.
Shnat, in many ways, is the ultimate expression of the Hashomer Hatzair ethos, and the culmination of the youth movement process, giving participants a chance to live their Zionism, their Judaism and a belief in socialism.
The Hashomer Hatzair shnat program is an exciting year of individual growth and self-exploration. That said, Shnat is also about participating in a collective, the Shnat Kvutza (peer group), and about being part of a movement forum. This means that the process of independence, individual growth and discovery is connected to and supported by the other members of the group and the madrichim (guides) of the kvutza.
The program consists of four building blocks; firstly, the Hashomer Hatzair values, which come from a historical legacy and a particular worldview. There is also the Israel, Zionism, and Hebrew aspect. This program emphasises the unique nature of Israeli society, history, language, and geography.
The third aspect is Kvutza and the community, as the program is synchronised such that the entire Hashomer Hatzair World Movement will be on the same program. Part of the mission of the program is to help facilitate tightly-knit, intimate, caring, thoughtful collectives of people who work to better one another and the world at large. Finally, the last building block is democratic education, an idea which permeates through the entire program.