Abby knew she wanted to take a gap year after high school, and Israel was always a place both myself and my husband wanted her to explore. I researched many programs and spoke with the UJA representative regarding the Arevim Masa Year of Service. Jenna was informative and talked to me about the 10-month program.
Abby was so excited to start her journey! The program started off a little uncertain as one can imagine with the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions in place for travel. The first few months were challenging as the participants navigated quarantine, two lockdowns, many COVID tests, and volunteer placements that were very fragile. The silver lining to all of this was the 8 participants were in it together and formed a bond that was so strong that they became a "family”, as they became independent adults navigating a very hard situation in a completely foreign place.
The second half of the year was awesome; vaccinations were happening at a rapid rate and Israel was opening up. The participants were all at wonderful volunteer placements, the trips that Arevim planned were awesome, and Abby enjoyed learning all about Israel and what it has to offer. Birthright planned a trip for a few groups who were in Israel on year-long trips, and this was definitely one of the highlights for Abby!
Noa and Zoe, the group coordinators for the second half, were awesome and much needed for this group; their activities, trips, and special nights were fantastic.
Would I recommend Arevim Masa Year of Service to a high school grad looking for a year of service experience? Absolutely.
Leigh Davis, Toronto