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The Gap Year in Israel

The Gap Year in Israel

By: Rabbi Yehoshua Gold
Assistant Director, SINAI Maor at RKYHS

Many students from Modern Orthodox High Schools choose to spend a year learning in Israel after graduation, commonly known as the “Gap Year.” This is no different for our students at SINAI’s Maor High School, although we spend extra time helping them find a program that will be sensitive to their learning differences or social difficulties.  The year in Israel provides a really important capstone to the learning our students have engaged in while in high school, and the love for Israel that we strive to instill in them.  Walking through the streets of Jerusalem, seeing the places they have learned about in Tanach—these give context to the people and places they have learned about throughout their education, bringing them to life. This year also provides students the opportunity to focus on their spiritual growth, and helps to secure them in a Torah observant lifestyle.

The “Gap Year” has another huge benefit in the development of our students. The year teaches our students independence. Being in a foreign country without parental supervision, our students have to learn how to live on their own and make their own decisions. They will have teachers from their respective yeshivas or seminaries giving them advice and guiding them, but ultimately, they will have to begin to take responsibility for themselves and decide what they want to do in all aspects of their daily life. This includes learning how to do their own laundry, shopping for food, taking public transportation, arranging places to go for Shabbos meals, and even going to the doctor. This independence is key in all young adults’ transitions to adulthood, but even more so for many of our students, who need extra support to become comfortable with their independence.

Our students are blessed to live at a time where there are so many different yeshivos and seminaries to meet their needs. Some schools will focus on learning and academics, others will blend learning with a very strong focus on chessed, while others will focus on chessed and spiritual growth through touring the land. Our Maor students need a Yeshiva or Seminary that will focus on their individual strengths and challenges, and provide them the additional support they need to be successful. Through meeting with each student, and multiple discussions with their parents and teachers, we identify which programs will best fit their needs. We are careful to make sure that the staff at those schools are able to provide the academic, social and emotional support our students need. For each SINAI Maor student, finding the right match means providing him or her with the opportunity to grow spiritually, socially, emotionally, and educationally at his or her own pace. We are so excited that so many of our students take advantage of going to Israel for their “Gap Year,” and we are always so proud to see their development over the year. We look forward each year to seeing the amazing young men and women they have grown into when they return to America at the end of the year!

One of the tremendous advantages our Maor High School students receive from being in and a part of the Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School, is an outstanding appreciation and a strong connection to Eretz Yisroel. Over the course of 4 years of High School, Kushner weaves a love and appreciation for Eretz Yisroel in everything that they do and our students see this on a daily basis. This connection to Eretz Yisroel plays a very important role in what our students choose to do the year after they graduate high school.