Beyond Flipping Out: Experiences of Year-in-Israel Programs
Dr. Yoel Finkelman & Rabbi Meir Arnold
ATID believes that education can be improved if we understand our
students better, and there is good reason to think that if we want to
understand them, we have to speak with them. Recently, the community
of Jewish educators has paid a great deal of attention to the role of
the year in Israel in forming the religious identity of Orthodox
youth. Over the course of the 2007-08 academic year, ATID spent time
interviewing students the year in Israel program to better understand
what they year means to them. The following short essays summarize
what we learned.
This introductory essay describes the motivations for this
preliminary study of the year in Israel program. Our claim: "Flipping
out" seems to be the words on people's lips recently, but that model
does not adequately describe what students undergo.
What does mitzvah observance mean to these students, and how
do they understand their own commitments to observance?
The mitzvah of chesed was far and away the most important
and meaningful of the mitzvot, according to these students'
If these students are any indication, educators need to pay
a great deal of attention to the differences in backgrounds among the
various students who arrive in Israel