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Gap Years Change Lives

By JumpSpark

Atlanta’s most recent group of 28 Atlanta Israel Gap Year Fellows has just returned home from an incredible, transformative year in Israel! These adventurous teenagers didn’t start college straight out of high school; instead, they spent a year exploring their interests, traveling an incredible country, exploring their connections to the Jewish world, and living independently. The Atlanta Israel Gap Year Fellowship is made possible through the generous support of The Zalik Foundation Fund. Here are reflections from a just-returned fellow and a parent:

“My gap year meant the world to me! I can’t imagine the person I would’ve been without it. I grew so much—both emotionally and spiritually—and feel incredibly more prepared for college because of it. My favorite experiences on my gap year program were definitely Yom HaShoah and Yom Hazikaron. It was truly a privilege to be in Israel for these days that had always been sacred, yet distant from my identity. I will always remember the sirens that stopped every person, taxi, car, and bus. It was so meaningful to see the people of Israel honor and remember their brothers and sisters on both of these days. I am planning to take my independence and maturity with me, as well as my love for Israel! My gap year elevated all 3 of these parts of me tremendously and I can’t wait to use them to my advantage next year.”

Pnina Sasson, participant in Young Judaea Year Course, attending Tulane University in the fall

“Since my son, Gideon, began his Gap Year, he has matured and grown both physically and mentally. He’s more independent and self-sufficient—we also noticed that he is more aware of what is happening in the world around him. I know he will be able to manage his time and study better when he goes to college; he knows better, now, how to balance his work and fun. To any other families whose kids are considering a Gap Year, I say, “Do it!” Life is short, and giving them the gift of a year away is life changing for them and for you.”

-Dani Oren, son Gideon participant in Nativ College Leadership Program

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