For as long as I can remember, there has been a phrase ingrained in my mind: “Year Course will be the best year of your life.” I grew up on stories of all the new and unique and amazing experiences my dad had when he did it. He started at CYJ in 2nd grade and continued in Young Judaea all the way through into his 20s. Not only do I have my dad’s stories, but I have the stories from all of my counselors that also went on Year Course. No matter who I spoke to or how long ago it was for them, everyone said the same thing: “Year Course will be the best year of your life.” So naturally, I had very high expectations coming into this year, and so far, I have not been disappointed.
This semester has been focused on learning about Judaism and Zionism. We’ve taken trips all around the country to learn about the rich culture and history of Israel. We stayed in Beit She’an, which is just north of the West Bank on the Jordanian border, taking day trips all around northern Israel learning about the 5 aliyot. On an average day, we take humanities classes that teach us more about Israel, Judaism, and life in Israel. There are many different, interesting, and unique classes that we can take, such as a Maimonides philosophy class, a class that teaches us about Israeli society through popular music, and a class on how to deal with antisemitism on college campuses. Some people are even able to take classes that will get them a certification to teach Hebrew. Two of our classes take weekly outings to learn in a more hands-on way. One of my classes takes us to holy sites for many religions all around Jerusalem. Another is essentially a series of walking tours around Jerusalem, but instead of walking, we run, which allows us to see so much of the city in one afternoon.
Outside of classes, there’s so much to do and explore and experience. Our weekends are free, which allows us to travel around the country. My most recent plan for travel is to do a hike called “yam le yam” which translates to “sea to sea.” It is a 4-day hike across the width of Israel, starting at the Mediterranean Sea and ending at the Kineret. Back in Jerusalem, one of the things I love to do is walk around the shuk. The atmosphere is like nothing else. On Thursdays and Fridays, there is a flea market with some great second-hand clothes, jewelry, and Judaica. Another thing I love to do with friends is go out to dinner, which has allowed us to find some excellent restaurants and areas. Recently, I went to Tzfat for Simchat Torah. There, we got to experience one of the most spiritual holidays in one of the most spiritual places. Even though I haven’t been here that long, I can already tell that it will be one of the best years of my life.