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We understand that choosing your Israel Year Program is a big decision, and we’re sure you have questions. This section covers the most Frequently Answered Questions, but you are always welcome to reach out to us!

Why World Bnei Akiva?

World Bnei Akiva is the largest Jewish religious Zionist youth movement in the world‭. ‬We inspire and empower‭ ‬young Jews all over the world with a sense of commitment to the Jewish people‭, ‬the Land of Israel and the Torah‭, ‬placing an emphasis on the value of Aliyah to the State of Israel‭.‬ From our headquarters in Jerusalem‭, ‬we work with Jewish communities around the globe‭, ‬assisting and strengthening the local Bnei Akiva snifim‭ (‬branches‭), ‬as well as the wider Jewish community‭. ‬Among our many endeavors is a range of ISRAEL YEAR PROGRAMS known as HACHSHARA‭, ‬meaning‭ ‬“preparation”‭, one of the largest, oldest and most popular Gap Year programs in Israel‭. ‬ With MORE THAN 80‭ ‬YEARS EXPERIENCE‭, ‬World Bnei Akiva has played a part in shaping and training the future leaders of Bnei Akiva and Jewish communities in Israel and around the world‭.

Who manages the Mechina?

The Director of our Israel Year Programs Department is Royi Bercovici, and the Mechina is run both by a Rosh‭ (‬head‭) ‬and a Menahel‭ (‬director‭) - ‬together managing all aspects of the mechina‭ - ‬education’‭ ‬logistics‭, ‬budget‭, ‬safety etc‭. ‬Participants are divided into two groups‭, ‬each one with 3‭ ‬Madrichim‭ (‬counselors‭) ‬and headed by a‭ ‬Rakaz or Rakezet‭ (‬head of group‭). ‬Standing behind the Mechina are both World Bnei Akiva and the Jewish Agency‭.‬ Our programs are organized in partnership with Masa Israel Journey.

What is the Mechina’s connection with World Bnei Akiva and Kol Ami‭?‬

The Mechina Olamit is run by World Bnei Akiva in partnership with Kol Ami‭. ‬Kol Ami‭, ‬the Jewish Peoplehood Leadership Academy‭, ‬has been operating since 2012‭, ‬and is run by the Jewish Agency and works with MASA‭. ‬It is approved by the Ministry of Education and the IDF and is part of the Mechinot Ofek network of mechinot‭.‬

What is the religious observance at the Mechina Olamit‭?‬

The Mechina operates in religious Zionist framework‭. ‬Participants at the Mechina Olamit are expected to observe halacha‭: ‬including Shabbat observance in public and private spaces‭, ‬three tfillot a day for both male and female participants‭, ‬and tzniut regarding dress code and modest behavior‭.‬

What language is the program run in‭?‬

The program is split into 3‭ ‬three-month semesters‭. ‬The first three months of the program is run in English after that the program runs in Hebrew‭.‬

Where is the Mechina Olamit based‭?‬

The Mechina Olamit is based in Kibbutz Migdal Oz‭.‬

Are arrangements made for special dietary requirements‭?‬

If you require a special diet or have a severe allergy that may necessitate extra attention‭, ‬please state this on your medical form when you apply‭. ‬Although it may not always be possible‭, ‬we will make every effort to cater to your needs‭.‬

I have friends going on another World Bnei Akiva program - will I be able to see them?

Yes‭. ‬There are times when the different World Bnei Akiva‭ ‬Hachshara groups are together‭, ‬even though your real group relationship will be with those on your own program‭. ‬You’ll also have ample free time and Shabbatot to make your own plans and arrange visits to those on other programs.

What security measures are taken‭?‬

Your safety is our primary concern‭. ‬Like all MASA gap year programs‭, ‬we follow the security advice of the relevant security agencies in Israel‭, ‬and run our activities with their approval‭. ‬In the event of a change in the security situation‭, ‬we will inform you‭. ‬Occasionally‭, ‬as a precaution‭, ‬we will ask you not to go out‭, ‬even during free time‭.‬

Will there be free time / a vacation break?

The Mechina is a‭ ‬nine‭-‬month program and every day is important‭! ‬In order to maximize participants’‭ ‬time in Israel‭, ‬there will only be vacation during parts of Sukkot‭, ‬Channuka and Pesach‭. ‬

Are medical services and insurance included in the program cost?

Medical services and insurance for illness and injury while in Israel on Mechina is included in the cost of the program‭. ‬Doctors‭ ‬affiliated with the plan are located throughout Israel and you can easily arrange to see one‭, ‬no matter where you are based at‭ ‬the time‭. ‬Treatment related to pre-existing conditions is not included in the coverage‭. ‬You are also advised to take out‭ ‬‘personal effects insurance’‭ ‬to cover your valuable belongings‭.‬

Will World Bnei Akiva‭ Israel Year Programs be useful for my university application‭?‬

The value of gap year activities is widely acknowledged‭, ‬and most universities will allow you to apply for deferred entry‭. ‬It is‭ ‬a good idea to include details of your proposed gap year in your personal statement to support your application‭. ‬Additionally‭, ‬courses provided on the Mechina may count for credits at certain colleges and universities‭.‬

Do I need to arrange for a travel visa in order to join the Mechina?

Yes‭, ‬you must arrange your student travel visa prior to arrival in Israel‭. ‬To do this you need to contact your local Israel mission to‭ ‬apply for a Masa A/2‭ ‬Visa for your year in Israel‭. ‬If you or your parents have Israeli citizenship‭, ‬then the visa requirements are different‭. ‬This must be discussed with your Israeli mission‭, ‬who will advise you what steps are necessary to complete before‭ ‬arrival in Israel‭. ‬Please note that visa requirements are set by the Israeli Government and are subject to change‭. ‬

How do Shabbatot work?

The Mechina will roughly follow an alternating‭ ‬“in”‭- ‬“out”‭ ‬schedule‭, ‬and will be adapted depending on the specific time of year‭. ‬The group Shabbatot will be both either at the Mechina‭, ‬or visiting another community in Israel‭. ‬Staff members will ensure participants have somewhere to go on free Shabbatot‭.‬

Where do participants come from‭?‬

There are three main groups on the program‭:‬

  • Israelis enrolling in the army the following March‭.‬
  • Participants from abroad who are either taking a gap year‭, ‬becoming‭ ‬“lone soldiers”‭ ‬or are olim chadashim‭.‬
  • Australians and South Africans participating in the World Bnei Akiva‭: ‬Limmud gap year program who spend the final three months of their year at the Mechina‭. ‬Limmud participants return to Australia/South Africa in December‭, ‬after the first semester‭.‬

Where do the participants live and eat‭?‬

Participants from mixed backgrounds live in rooms of four‭. ‬The rooms are basic and include air-conditioning and en-suite bathroom‭. ‬Breakfast and dinner are prepared by the participants and Lunch is in the kibbutz dining hall‭. ‬Kashrut is strictly observed‭.‬

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