By Franny Waisman
Attending a gap year program in Israel has become an evolving trend in the post high school Jewish world. There are Yeshivas, Seminaries, volunteer programs, internship programs, hiking programs, the list goes on and on. So what makes Artzi different from the dozens of gap year programs out there? The answer is simple: most gap year programs provide their students with the opportunity to live in Israel for a year, but Artzi aims higher. At Artzi, students don’t just live in Israel, they get to live Israel. Located in the heart of Jerusalem, Artzi caters to students of music, dance, theater and the visual arts with a unique program designed to expose students to the best that Israel has to offer by integrating them into the very fabric of Israeli culture from day one.
Live Like an Israeli
Artzi is a nine-month program that offers 18-19 year-olds youth a chance to explore Israel on the deepest levels and connect to their Jewish heritage. How? Live with Israelis. Artzi students live with, hike with, learn with and volunteer with Israeli “Ruach Nachon” (“True Spirit” artistic pre-army academy) students. This allows Artzi students to learn high-level Hebrew, develop friendships with Israelis their age and experience Israel on a totally different level.
It’s All in the Name
In Hebrew, Artzi means “My Land.” One of Artzi’s main goals is to give its students an authentic Israel experience where each student feels like Israel is part of them, by developing deep ties to the culture, the people and the land. However, the name also reveals the other unique side of Artzi – the Arts.
Students get to choose from four art tracks: Visual arts, Music, Theater and Dance, where each week students get one-on-one studio time to work with professional artists on their personal project. The program is designed specifically for artistic students. Artzi is for students who want to come to Israel to have an amazing year of self-discovery, high-level learning, amazing hiking and volunteering opportunities, and don’t want their artistic talents to sit and wait on the sidelines all year long. “We understand that art is a universal language, and we believe that it is intrinsically connected to spiritual growth and self-exploration. We want motivated students who want to take their Israel experience to the next level through the Arts,” says Yishai Ashkenazi, the director of Artzi.
Unique Blend of Students; Unique Type of Learning
Artzi is co-ed and pluralistic, allowing our students to learn in an open environment and really challenge themselves to fully reach their potential. Students spend their mornings delving into their Jewish heritage in a pluralistic academic environment which encourages textual analysis through free and open discussion, (and debate of course, because everyone in the room has an “artistic temperament”!). The talented staff of teachers help each student on their journey through self-discovery, spiritual growth and real connection to the Jewish nation and heritage. Of course, being that Artzi students are artsy, some of the classes also use the arts as a medium for spiritual discovery making the learning unique and fun.
Artzi is different and unique, the real way for the artistic soul to experience Israel.
Franny Waisman is Artzi Program Coordinator.