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.

Part I: 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.

Part II: What does mitzvah observance mean to these students, and how do they understand their own commitments to observance?

Part III: The mitzvah of chesed was far and away the most important and meaningful of the mitzvot, according to these students' self-understanding.

Part IV: 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

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