Year-In-Israel - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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The Year-in-Israel Program is mandatory for all first-year cantorial students. Matriculation into the Year-in-Israel Program is conditioned upon passing a Hebrew language competency examination, demonstrating the equivalent of at least one year of college-level Hebrew. The program is an eleven-month program beginning in late June and culminating in May of the following year. 


  1. An understanding of the structure of the Hebrew language which will serve our students in mediating between the sources of Judaism and the North American Jewish community.
  2. An encounter with Israel which leaves the students informed, enthused, and energized about the challenges of statehood and the implications of peoplehood.
  3. The acquisition of basic textual skills which allows the successful continuation of studies in the U.S.
  4. An exploration of the students' religious and spiritual identities, with special emphasis on Reform Judaism.
  5. The provision of professional skills, and the encouragement of a self-consciousness as future Jewish professionals.


The Year-in-Israel Program includes a number of orientation sessions and seminars at the beginning of the academic year and thereafter throughout the course of study. Among the topics examined are: (a) a basic orientation to Jerusalem past and present, (b) an introduction to modern Israel, (c) a discussion of the role of Reform Judaism, and (d) an examination of the roles of Jewish professionals within the community. 


Students are expected to spend a minimum of 22 credit hours of classroom study, divided between core courses (14 credits) and specialized courses (6 credits) and a weekly First Year Seminar (2 credits).

Core Courses




Modern Hebrew

8 credits



Classical Grammar

2 credits



Bible I (Introduction)

2 credits




2 credits






Specialized Courses



Students are required to study courses in each of the following areas of Study (2 credits each):


Bible II




Land and People of Israel




Rabbinic Literature




First Year Seminar: "Concepts in Jewish Living"

For one day a week, Israel is the classroom, as students explore aspects of Judaism and the Jewish State as part of the Richard J. Scheuer Seminar. Some days studies take place on campus, and many others there are site visits of various kinds. Learning techniques include text study sessions, film, independent research, and more. Two of the extended field study trips are part of the wider course. Requirements include two research papers and active participation. Sessions tend to run from 8:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. throughout the year. Subjects include Religion and State, Life Cycle, and Zionism.

The Mandel Initiative for Visionary Leadership provides structured opportunities in the curriculum for students to integrate their academic and clinical learning in a more meaningful way and to build on that integration in shaping their personal Jewish identities and their professional aspirations. During the Year-In-Israel, the focus is on Israel and Jewish Peoplehood, reflecting the centrality of those ideas and ideals in the learning and experiences of students spending their first year of studies in Israel.

Other Requirements


*Professional weekly forums


*Community service project


*Shabbat morning services at the Murstein Synagogue at least once a month


*Field study trips




Students are also encouraged to participate in a range of additional activities and learning opportunities including:


*Daily Mincha prayer services


*Thursday morning minyan


*Monday morning minyan


*Visits to Progressive congregations throughout the country


*Weekly Torah portion study sessions (Spring semester)


Hebrew Study

Matriculation into the Year-in-Israel Program is conditioned upon passing a Hebrew language competency examination, demonstrating the equivalent of at least one year of college-level Hebrew. A priority of the program is to give students an understanding of the structure of the language. Students are required to take 8 credits of Modern Hebrew, as well as 2 credits of Classical Grammar while they are in Israel.

Sample Core Curriculum


Modern Hebrew Ulpan

Fall and Spring Semesters

Modern Hebrew Language
Modern Hebrew Literature
Biblical Grammar
Israel Studies Seminar
Jewish Practice and Tradition


URJ Camp/Israel staff experience

*Summer programs are not mandatory. The summer may also be for an independent study class or for personal study.