What is Kol Ami?
Kol Ami is a unique gap year program, now entering its 12th year. Our core program is a six-month leadership program for high school graduates from Israel and worldwide. The program is operated by the Jewish Agency and under the umbrella organization 'MASA'. The core Kol Ami program starts at the end of August and ends at the end of February. Participants can choose to stay for an additional 3.5 months as part of the 'Perek Bet' program.
What are the goals of the program?
Develop Jewish Peoplehood
Improve Public Diplomacy
Love of the Land
Enhancing Jewish Zionism
Preparation for the Next Step (IDF, College etc.)
Where is Kol Ami based?
Kol Ami has seven branches around the country. Participants choose which location they would like to attend before starting the Mehina and are interviewed by the campus of their choice.
1. Kiryat Yearim - Jewish Agency youth village twenty minutes from Jerusalem
2. Kiryat Anavim - Kibbutz twenty minutes from Jerusalem - Partnership with NOAM
3. Kibbutz Bachan - Kibbutz twenty minutes from Netanya
4. Kibbutz Amir - In the Golan with a view of the Hermon. - Partnership with Gal.il Elyon
5. Beit Rimon - Situated inside the Beit Rimon Kibbutz - For Olim Chadashim
6. Matan-Machon - In Jerusalem, for members of youth movements
7. Migdal Oz (Mechina Olamit) - Partnership with Bnei Akiva Olami
What do you do on Kol Ami?
Studying: The regular weekly schedule includes classes on Zionism, Jewish history, philosophy, Hebrew, politics, and Israel advocacy. There are also classes on Talmud, Gender, group dynamics, and presentation skills.
Committees: Much of the responsibility for day to day operation of each branch is given to the participants, who choose which committee they want to join at the beginning of the program. Each committee, accompanied by a staff member, has several events to plan and responsibilities throughout the course of the six months.
Committees include Shabbat and culture, Army preparation, Tiyulim (trips), PR, recruitment, community service, education, and management.
Seminars and Trips: The six months include three six-day seminars and trips around the country. Participants help plan and run many aspects of each trip, including finding accommodation, building educational elements, cooking, navigating, and arranging guest speakers.
Seminars: Navigation week, Judea and Samaria week, Streams of Judaism week, Jewish Peoplehood Seminar, Army preparation week, Desert trip, and Chovek Israel (the final two-week trip from North to South of Israel planned entirely by participants).
Community Service: In each branch, there are between one to two volunteering days every week. Placements have included teaching English, mentoring, agricultural work, retirement homes, kindergartens, and visiting hospitals.
Army Preparation: Although we DO NOT encourage all participants to join the IDF, we do ensure that those participants who are going to join the IDF are prepared as best as possible. Therefore, there are classes and activities regarding a wide range of subjects concerning army service, including ethics, leadership, and the structure of the IDF.
Three times a week, there are physical training classes for all participants. Classes are run by professionals and at least one class a week is run by participants.
All participants also participate in a 10km run throughout the program, for which they train beforehand.
Where do Participants Come From?
Each location has between 30-50 participants. Around 60% are Israeli, and the remainder are from abroad.
There are three main groups in the program:
Israelis who plan to enroll in the IDF the following March.
Participants from abroad on either gap year and plan to go back to their communities for college/university.
Olim Chadashim who will join the IDF after the program is over.
What language is the program in?
The program is split into two three-month sections. The first three months of the program are entirely in English, and the second three months are entirely in Hebrew. Two of our campususes (Kibbutz Bachan & and Amir) remain in English for the duration of the six months.
Where do you live and eat?
Participants will be in rooms of between three and five. Some campuses have communal bathrooms/showers while some have en-suite bathrooms and toilets.
All meals are eaten communally, and usually, breakfast and dinner are prepared by the participants. Lunch is usually eaten in the kibbutz/youth village dining hall, or a catered lunch is brought in. The way food is conducted is different on every campus. Kashrut is kept strictly on all of the branches and all activities.
What is the religious observance like on Kol Ami?:
Participants are both observant and secular. For many of them, this provides a unique forum to become acquainted with a part of the population they have not previously come into contact with. Shabbat observance is kept in all public spaces. Kabbalat Shabbat takes place with the whole group, and those who wish to go to local Shabbat services can find many synagogues within walking distance.
What would I do on free weekends and vacation periods?:
During free weekends and vacation periods, participants can make their own plans. We highly encourage the Israeli participants to host the participants from overseas. This is the best way to deepen friendships and increase your familiarity with Israeli society. You can also take the time to travel around the country by yourself and visit friends and relatives. If participants do not have plans for Shabbat or vacation, the Mechina staff will help them.
What is the price of the program?:
$13,000 USD for Bachan, Yearim, & Anavim.
$14,000 for Kibbutz Amir.
These prices are before the Masa Israel scholarship and grant. Price includes room, board, tuition, and activities during program time. Additional scholarships and grants may be available. Please contact us for more details.
I have an Israeli passport or my parents are Israeli. Will I have to draft into the IDF?:
Whilst each case may be different, you must definitely consult with your local Israeli Consul. Usually, only Toshavim (citizens) will need to draft. Anyone with Israeli citizenship or Israeli parents must get a Ptor (exemption) from the army before coming to Israel on Mechina.