Idea of the Day: Gap year program for college credit

JTA is soliciting readers’ ideas for reversing the tide of Jewish assimilation in America. Here’s today’s featured idea:

Jewish philanthropists should create an excellent English-language, post-high-school academic program in Israel that would be eligible for college credit at major American universities.

The idea would be for this year in Israel to become a common rite of passage for American Jews, like a bar mitzvah or Birthright — or, to draw another analogy, like Mormon missions. A year in Israel as part of a Jewish majority would have an exponentially greater effect on ties to Judaism than the 10-day Birthright tour, which itself has proven successful.

Part of the draw is that studying for a year in Israel — in the price range of $10,000-$15,000 — could save parents tens of thousands of dollars on university tuition. Perhaps the level of tuition could be on a sliding scale depending on what Jewish activities post-bar mitzvah age students have engaged in.

Everyone wins: The students get a great year in Israel at an excellent educational institution, the parents save money on college tutition and the Jewish people gain more knowledgeable Jews with closer ties to Israel.

David Bernstein
Arlington, Virginia

Read more ideas for stemming the tide of American Jewish disengagement here.

To share your idea, send an email describing one concrete idea in 200 words or less to [email protected] (include your full name, city, and state or country). Our favorites will be featured online.