Habonim Dror Workshop
Done by: Maya B. | Fieldston School | Wesleyan U. '20
Helpful links: http://www.hdnaisrael.org/
Summary: Organized by the Jewish Labour Zionist youth movement Habonim Dror, Workshop is the longest running Israel gap year program. Participants spend 10 months immersed in experiential learning about Israel’s culture and history in addition to service. In the first of the four segments, students experience life in a Kibbutz, while building community and an understanding of Jewish identity and history. Then students explore an area of Israel through a personalized enrichment activity (hiking, working on farm, studying at a local yeshiva), followed by an extensive volunteer placement in schools or after school programs. Students also have the opportunity to visit Poland to learn about the Holocaust and the resistance movement.
Cost: ~$20,000, extensive scholarships and financial aid available
Review: The program is run mostly by people in their 20’s and 30’s who were part of this movement and then moved to Israel. No program is perfect but I had an incredible time even if parts of it were hard. I don’t think of it as a formal program but more as a structure that was provided for me to learn about things I was interested in (Israel, Judaism, social justice etc) and to live in a modern socialist framework. This program is largely structured around being Jewish, so I wouldn’t recommend it if you aren’t Jewish. Also I feel like it might sound like this is some pro Israel propaganda, but it’s really really not. Most people in my group didn’t even like israel, and I wasn’t sure if I felt a connection to it, but after the year I have an extremely nuanced understanding of Israel and what it means to want it to exist but hate the things that had to happen in order for that to be possible and to not support the current government.
It is challenging in a good way and you make incredible friendships and don’t be intimidated by the Israel thing.