May 28, 2024
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May 28, 2024
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Trending: Staying in Israel Past Shana Aleph

Which yeshiva or seminary to choose for one’s year in Israel is a very difficult decision. Students needs to search for the program that fits their personality and, most importantly, that can help them reach their goals for the year. What makes the decision so difficult is that many teens don’t really know what they want to get out of their year in Israel. Sometimes, the program they choose can help them realize their life path but does not enable them to continue on that path with that specific program, while others do. Everyone has a different experience in Israel that affects them differently. But everyone asks the same question: What is my path after shana aleph?

Ilana Markowitz, 19, will be returning to Shalavim for half of shana bet while another student, Steve Smith (not his real name), 20, is returning to Aish Gesher for his third year. This Q&A seeks to explain how they made their choice to return to Israel.

What influenced you to go post-shana aleph?

Ilana: I had such an incredible Shana Aleph where I was able to expand my Torah knowledge and work on myself as a person and as an Eved Hashem, but I knew that there was still so much I wanted to accomplish. The opportunity to return for another half a year allows me to continue expanding my horizons even further than they already are. It will give me the chance to learn more in an environment that has become my second home, to focus on my avodas Hashem and yiras shamayim, and to continue becoming the greatest me that I can be.

Steve: I realized how unprepared I was for life. So many questions unanswered and so many doubts. I needed clarity. I also wanted to be in a positive, growth-oriented environment. These are crucial years that shape our lives. Our decisions now ripple and affect the remainder of our lives. What better place to be than yeshiva, with rebbeim that care for you, love you and only want the best for you?

What do you believe is your path and what personality traits do you need to acquire to reach your path?

Ilana: I believe that my path is to figure out why I was put here and what job I need to accomplish. Many people live their whole life without figuring any of this out, but I think that the only way to even get close to finding out is to keep learning and expanding my knowledge. Not just in terms of Torah and Judaism, but also about myself and my strengths. I think to achieve this I need to gain a greater understanding of myself and have the patience to spend the time doing that.

Steve: I have no idea. What’s crazy is that when I came into yeshiva, I had my life planned out. Now I don’t even know where to go to college! I don’t know which career to pursue. I’m taking life a year at a time now. I know that this year I’m doing XYZ. If anything comes up that changes it, I’ll hopefully adapt and change.

What are your thoughts on choosing a different yeshiva that one was in for shana aleph?

Ilana: I think that everyone has to be in the environment and atmosphere that works best for them, and at different points in life they may be different places. The place they went for shana aleph may have been perfect for them then, but now they may need a different place and they should go to the place that works for them.

Steve: It depends on each person. One of my rebbeim from high school suggested I look into other yeshivot for shana bet. I ended up going to the same yeshiva because I had already formed a relationship with the guys and rabbeim. I had already gotten used to the schedule. Switching to a new yeshiva requires time to adapt to the different schedule. It honestly depends on each individual. For some it’s a must. For others, it doesn’t matter. For some it can even be detrimental.

Why should one work to find themselves in Israel and not in college?

Ilana: College is a great place and I know I will also have many opportunities there for spiritual growth and inspiration, but I need more than just that. I need to live and breathe the shiurim and the speeches and connect deeper in a land that is so holy. I am in a place that is filled with Torah and growth 24/7, how could I possibly turn away from that? After 120 years, I know for certain that I won’t look back and say “I regret sitting for an extra five months learning in Yerushalayim.”

Steve: I would say that whichever environment is best geared towards self-discovery is the answer. If you can find a college focused on self-discovery, go for it! Just make sure they are what they advertise.

By Tzvi Sabo


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