January 3, 2022

My Gap Year in Israel

Tags: 2022, Israel, Teen Voice

Doni Chasen is a recipient of the Atlanta Israel Gap Year Scholarship and currently on the Orayta Gap Year program. Doni is 2021 graduate of Atlanta Jewish Academy.

My gap year has been absolutely incredible so far. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to live in Israel for the year, and I am truly seeing and doing everything I can.

My school is located in the Old City of Jerusalem just a three-minute walk from the Kotel. I can actually see the Kotel from the balcony of my school. It’s difficult to put into words just how special and spiritual it is to be that close. On Chanukah, our entire school lit menorahs at the school window overlooking the Kotel, and it was such an incredible and spectacular sight. We also have amazing restaurants close by with the best falafel and shawarma in Israel. I enjoy learning in my classes every day and connecting to my Rabbis and teachers.

While growing up in Atlanta, I learned so many amazing stories in the Torah. This year I have been able to see exactly where all these events happened. We went on a school trip to Chevron, the place where the matriarchs and patriarchs in the Bible are buried, and visited the graves of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as well as those of Sarah, Rebecca and Leah.

Another incredible experience was a three-day trip to the Negev in the desert. We spent our days exploring and learning about the land of Israel. Each day we had the opportunity to focus on making a closer connection with our own selves, our peers and with G-d.

Next week we are going to Poland where we will visit the concentration camps and see the atrocities of the Holocaust up close and personal. I cannot even imagine what that will be like.

There are not enough words to describe this incredible experience I’m having living for a year in the holiest city in the world. In the short four months I’ve been here, I’ve already made lifelong friends, grown, matured and learned so much. I am certainly looking forward to the rest of the year and more amazing adventures.

Related Stories

No Age Requirement for Political Engagement
January 18, 2022

No Age Requirement for Political Engagement

By Peyton Schwartz
In November, the Strong Women’s Fellowship had the opportunity to meet with the co-founders of the Jewish Democratic Women’s Salon, Valerie Habif and Joanie Shubin. They started their organization amidst the controversy from the Affordable...
Continue Reading
Exploring Gender and Judaism with SOJOURN
January 12, 2022

Exploring Gender and Judaism with SOJOURN

By Rachel Binderman
Many teens who identify as a member of the LGBTQ+ community struggle daily with accepting their own identities due to the hetero-normative society that we live in. Learning about the struggles that LGBTQ+ youth go...
Continue Reading
My Gap Year in Israel
January 3, 2022

My Gap Year in Israel

By Doni Chasen
My gap year has been absolutely incredible so far. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to live in Israel for the year, and I am truly seeing and doing everything I can. My...
Continue Reading
Celebrating Chanukah in Israel
December 20, 2021

Celebrating Chanukah in Israel

By Katherine Cranman
Chanukah was in the air everywhere for a couple of weeks before the holiday started. The stands in the shuk and different stores were filled with selections of different sufganiyot. Giant Chanukiahs were put up...
Continue Reading
$10K Scholarships Available For Gap Year In Israel. Apply Now!
December 14, 2021

$10K Scholarships Available For Gap Year In Israel. Apply Now!

By Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta
This article was originally published in Fed5, a publication of the Jewish Federaiton of Greater Atlanta. Read the original article here. Did you know your high school student doesn’t have to start college right after...
Continue Reading
Making Jewish Memories
December 13, 2021

Making Jewish Memories

By Amanda Budd
What comes to mind when you think of your earliest Jewish memory? For me, I remember my dad teaching me the Shema when I was five years old. The last line instructs us to “inscribe them [mezuzot] on the...
Continue Reading