Full house – participants from six youth movements embark on their gap year in Israel

February 6, 2019 by Mel Perch
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Over 100 young Jewish Australians departed from Melbourne, Sydney and Perth last week to spend a year in Israel on various AZYC (Australian Zionist Youth Council) gap year programs.

The Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA), together with the AZYC, hosted airport ceremonies to farewell participants from Betar, Hineni, Habonim Dror, Hashomer Hatzair, and Netzer. Bnei Akiva farewelled their gap year participants the previous week. The Shnatties were sent off amid chanting, singing, cheering, flag-waving and emotional renditions of Advance Australia Fair and Hatikva.

For the first time in three years, six youth movements have sent participants to Israel on AZYC gap year programs. “It’s incredible to see participants from six Zionist movements being represented on 2019 Shnat programs. It is a true testament to the youth movement leadership in Australia and the hard work the madrichim put into their camps and weekly meetings, which encourages young people to spend a year in Israel, experiencing, learning and returning to be leaders themselves,” said Ginette Searle, ZFA CEO.

The Shnatties spent their first week touring around the country, learning about each other’s ideologies and settling in to what will be their ‘home’ for the next year. They visited the Kotel, roamed around Shuk Ha’Carmel in Tel Aviv and had a meet and greet with their World Movement representatives. A highlight of the seminar was a hike in Ein Gedi, where the Shnatties were exposed to the history of the land by Israeli tour guides.

At Ein Gedi

The six youth movement programs vary in their ideologies, however, they all focus on education, leadership training, Jewish learning, community service, touring, hiking and more. The programs give the participants the skills to be educated, competent and passionate leaders in the Jewish and wider community.

Noa Shaul, the chairperson of the AZYC, said: “It made me so proud farewelling the next group of future madrichim of our movements to Israel. Our AZYC Shnatties have made the decision to spend their year learning about their values and exploring who they are as Jews, rather than solely travelling. This is a decision that must be commended. We will be privileged to see them grow and develop into the future leaders of our Jewish communities.”

This year, over 250 Australian participants have arrived in Israel to participate in a variety of long-term Israel programs, including Israel By Choice (IBC), Aardvark Israel and the Hebrew University.

The ZFA offers hundreds of long-term Israel programs to participants aged 18-30. If you are interested in going to Israel on a program, please email israelprograms@zfa.com.au.

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