Hevruta Gap-Year Program
Creating a learning community among North American and Israeli post-high school students, who become equipped to lead on the challenges facing Israel and the Jewish people
Hevruta immerses Israeli and North American emerging leaders in a unique educational experience that regards both Israeli and North American cultures as dynamic centers of Jewish life and creativity. Participants live and learn alongside one another while engaging in rigorous pluralistic study and experiencing Israel through socially conscious internships, volunteer work, and immersive trips.
Hevruta alumni are prepared to build a new foundation for the relationship between Israeli and world Jewry by implementing the intellectual sophistication and empathy acquired during their year-long experience. North American alumni often take on leadership positions at their Hillels that enable them to influence their campus community. Israeli alumni draw on their Hevruta experience to process moral, political, and emotional aspects of their army experience within the context of an inclusive and pluralistic Jewish identity.
Hevruta launched its fifth cohort in September 2018 with 62 student participants. When they graduate, Hevruta will include a total of 120 alumni on more than 25 campuses in North America and in IDF service who are trained extensively in understanding the Jewish communities in Israel and North America in order to build a new foundation for the Israel-Diaspora relationship. This year, we engaged North American alumni through one-on-one meetings, the creation of a Hevruta Alumni Committee, and the first event designed specifically for Hevruta alumni, a webinar on the Israeli elections held in April 2019. Meanwhile, Israeli alumni met several times throughout the year for a shared study and social gathering, which allowed participants to preserve and enrich the Hevruta discourse created during the program.
Hevruta Alumna (Cohort IV); Hevruta Alumni Steering Committee; Student, New York University Gallatin School of Individualized Study, New York, NY
The Gift of Hevruta: Hevruta answered every want that I had when it came to a gap year program - a program where the participants were as passionate about learning in an academic sense as they were about learning about one another in a personal and Jewish manner. Hevruta made me into the mindful, passionate, and curious person and student that I am today. Now that I am a year out of Hevruta, I understand that the real gifts of Hevruta were the tools and friends that it gave me that will last a lifetime.
Building Relationships: Although my participation in Hevruta gave me key tools in leadership, learning, and curiosity that I have carried with me into college, the most important things that I gained from Hevruta were the friendships and relationships that I found. Hevruta participants are a select group of absolutely brilliant people. It is vital to maintain a network among the American alumni; having a network of Hevruta alumni in college and even post-college feels invaluable.
Continuing Dialogue: At Hevruta, I became accustomed to a certain language when discussing the conflict, and this inspired me to further challenge myself and step even more out of my comfort zone to hear from different kinds of people on campus.
Hevruta Cohort V
Shoham, Israel, will volunteer in an IDF intelligence unit following Hevruta
Healthy Debate over Ideas: Growing up in a religious home and attending yeshiva, I never had the chance before to meet people holding so many diverse opinions and hailing from pluralistic backgrounds. I chose to join Hevruta because the connections between pluralism, education, Judaism, Israel, and the Diaspora are deeply important to me. I learned that as Jews it is healthy for us to think differently and even to argue over ideas, while always upholding our friendships both inside and outside the program.
Strengthened Identity: Thanks to our studies, I feel a responsibility to authentically represent Israeli Jews. Hevruta strengthened my personal and national identities as an Israeli, Zionist, and Sephardi Jew.
Hevruta Impact: Hevruta made me learn things about myself and other Jewish communities that I couldn’t in any other framework at my age. After a year in the program, I better understand the cultural nuances between Israel and North America regarding food, environmental awareness, pluralism, and tolerance for other religions. Hevruta taught me to respectfully criticize someone’s ideology without criticizing them personally, while remembering that we are all human first.
Hevruta is supported by Suzanne & Jacob Doft, Allen & Susan Reiter, Stanley Wolf, and other generous donors.