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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

In-Person Event for Parents of Current College and Gap Year Students


Calling all current parents of college and gap year students! 

Due to popular demand, JumpSpark is excited to offer this in-person event.

Parents will have the opportunity to come together over wine and cheese and receive helpful resources. Professionals will be there to provide the following resources: support for your student’s emotional wellbeing, budgeting, Israel experiences, career and internship support, response to antisemitism, Jewish engagement on campus, effective communication with your students and more!

We’ll be talking college so feel free to wear your or your student’s college shirt!

Speakers include:

  Nancy Weissmann, JIFLA |  Cari Newman, Parent Coach JF&CS | Valerie Chambers, KSU Hillel | Jeremy Lichtig, UGA Hillel | Elisheva Funk, LCSW, Counselor at KSU | Stacey Kaye, Campus To Career | Amy Shea and Susie Greenberg, Campus Concierge Service | Bridget Guernsey Riordan, PhD, Assistant VP/Campus Life, Office of Parent & Family Programs at Emory | Jenn Handel, Director of Israel Engagement at JFGA

Fill out the registration below to join us!

We’d like to thank our host committee:

Mindy Binderman | Justine Cohen | Amanda Cohn | Shelly Danz | Jessica Dickson | Beth Friedman | Kimberly Glenn | Anat Granath | Michal Ilai | Natalie Kirsh | Susie Mackler | Melanie Mailman | Janel Margaretta | Lauren Menis | Caren Merlin | Eileen Snow Price | Jessie Rosenberg | Rachelle Schaffer | Debra Siegel | Jennifer Tourial | Stacey Tovin | Leslie Wachter | Julie-Anne Wohlberg

For more information, contact Amy Fox at 404-862-0860 and by email at

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