You’re about to finish school and have a whole year to do what you want with. There will be multiple options in front of you and Israel is sure to be just one of many. The question then becomes, why should I choose a program in Israel over any other country?
This question will provoke a huge range of answers depending upon who you ask. One of the most common answers will be that Israel is the ideal place to explore your Jewish identity and strengthen your sense of self before embarking on university. However, while this is certainly true and it is not an answer to be dismissed, there are many more reasons why Israel offers a unique and in many ways unparalleled experience.
One of the biggest advantages to spending a year in Israel is the country’s relatively small size and huge diversity. Israel offers a huge range of landscapes, from the snowy Mount Hermon in the north to the Negev desert in the south and everything in between. The great thing about Israel is that the country is really tiny which means that you will easily be able to explore all these aspects of the state without having to give up much time or money on travel.
Whether you’re interested in hiking through green hills, trekking in the desert or just watching yourself float in the Dead Sea at the lowest point on earth, all of these can be accomplished with just a few hours on a bus.
Of course, Israel’s diversity is not restricted to the landscape. The country is packed with towns and cities which all have their own unique character.
Those that enjoy the hustle and bustle of a major metropolitan area combined with the beach are sure to love the coastal city of Tel Aviv which is not only full of pubs, bars and clubs but is also home to numerous museums, a rich, if relatively short, history and of course the world famous startup industry.
At the other end of the spectrum are the smaller villages dotted around the northern part of the country which offer a peace and quiet which is rare to find in the modern world.
In between these two extremes is of course Jerusalem. On one hand it is known as the Holy City, a focal point for the western world’s three major religions. On the other hand the lesser known side of Jerusalem is full of busy pubs, some great restaurants and an incredibly vibrant night life.
By choosing to spend your gap year in Israel you will have time to explore all of these sides to the country and truly familiarize yourself with the many different aspects that make Israel into what it is today, an incredibly busy country that offers far more than just camels, good hummus and religious heritage and while it is true that there are many other diverse countries in the world, only in Israel will you be able to combine this with furthering your understanding of what it means to be Jewish in the modern world.