Many teenagers look for exciting opportunities to grow and learn after high school, rather than jumping directly into college. They want to explore their interests; they want to travel, manage their finances on their own, and learn how to subsist on more than just mac and cheese. For these young adults, a gap year is the experience of a lifetime.
JumpSpark is proud to partner with The Zalik Foundation to provide scholarships to Jewish young adults that take a gap year in Israel. Atlanta Israel Gap Year Fellowship applications are currently open, and they are an incredible resource for Atlanta’s adventurous Jewish teens!
Masa is a partner in the Atlanta Israel Gap Year Fellowship. Sheryl Korelitz, Masa’s Director of Gap Year Recruitment for Masa North America, says “The dynamism of The Zalik Foundation in combination with the JumpSpark team is creating true culture change in the gap year space. Masa is proud to be a partner in this effort, and we are already seeing other communities looking to Atlanta as a model and guide for Israel teen engagement.”
According to a recent Masa study, Israel Immersive: The Key to a Strong Jewish Future (2022), “long-term programs [such as a gap year] in Israel are an essential investment in the next Jewish generation, cultivating personal growth, a desire to contribute to the global Jewish ecosystem, and a genuine motivation to lead.”
Gap year programs offer teenagers the ability to strengthen their identity, grow a stronger connection to Israel, and deepen their understanding of Jewish peoplehood. The survey notes that 72% of alumni agreed that their gap year in Israel “helped [them] grow as a person.”
Ariel Goldt went on a gap year in 2021-2022, and traveled with the organizer Nativ. She now goes to the University of Alabama and agrees with the survey respondents who say their gap year prepared them for life beyond high school.
She says, “Now that I’m a freshman in college, and talking with my friends who are also freshman who came straight from high school, they’ll encounter situations that stress them out, and those same things don’t phase me. After learning to handle them on my own in another country, it makes taking care of those things in a college town a lot less intimidating.”
“I’m trying to convince my younger brother, who is a senior right now, to take a gap year,” Ariel says. “My parents are big fans of the program; they think it’s the best thing ever.”
During the 2022-2023 school year, JumpSpark awarded scholarships to 28 Gap Year Fellows, and they’re hoping to increase that number to 35 for the 2023-2024 school year.
This Atlanta-specific Fellowship offers a unique opportunity for teens to expand their knowledge of Jewish peoplehood and deepen their understanding of Israeli history and culture. Rich Walter, Federation’s Chief of Programming and Grantmaking, adds “we are investing in [these young adults] as future leaders and influencers and investing in their personal growth and development.”
All Fellows receive a $10,000 scholarship towards participation in one of several pre-approved Israel gap year experiences. Participants gather eight times throughout the Fellowship for specialized opportunities unique to the Atlanta teens, including participation in a new two-day leadership program supported by the Rabbi Jonathan Sacks Legacy program, a Shabbaton in Atlanta’s Israeli partnership region, Yokneam-Megiddo, and a Thanksgiving celebration with Atlanta lone soldiers and Israeli dignitaries. Fellows will also participate in the Masa NextStep Conference, with special sessions for Atlanta Fellows focusing on leadership on campus, plus additional strategies for participating in Israeli activities, courses, and organizations on campus.
Fellows who commit to volunteering or working in the Jewish community during the summer following their gap year (May-August 2024) are eligible to apply for an additional $5,000 Service Subsidy. They will design a unique experience for their summer that reflects their year of growth in Israel and encourages others to consider a gap year. This work may take place throughout greater Atlanta, and could include working at a summer camp, interning at a Jewish organization, working at an Israeli-based NGO, or other options.
Applications are open now and close March 31. Click here to apply.
Contact Susie Macker at firstname.lastname@example.org for questions about the Atlanta Israel Gap Year Fellowship. Teens in all high school grades and their parents can also connect with our Gap Year Concierge Michal Ilai at email@example.com to learn more about gap year programs and find the right program for you.
Learn more about Gap Year opportunities from two past recipients in this video: