students smiling at camera

Academic Program Overview

HUC-JIR identifies three themes that shape the student outcomes for the Year-In-Israel (YII):

Hebrew language learning for moving towards proficiency to study classical texts on their own and for deeper engagement with modern Israel.

Studying Israel – Ancient and Modern through text and sites, by learning to listen to Israel’s multivocality and engaging in dialogue with it.

Cultivating Living in Jewish Time in the sacred communal spaces for worship, learning and ritual practice, and by experiencing the Jewish calendar in Israeli society and its public square.

As the first year of multi-year programs, YII is the place that starts off the nurturing of students towards overall desired outcomes as.

  • Interpreter of Text and Culture
  • Dugmah ishit (living exemplar) and Personal Integrity
  • Sacred Community Creator and Leader
  • Comforter and Challenger

For each program – cantorial, rabbinic, and education – the outcomes under each of these headings are aligned accordingly. Given the nature of being a first-year and being in Israel, these outcomes for YII can be distilled into students:

  • Seeing themselves as passionate lifelong learners of Jewish text and culture having grown in the linguistic and study skills and foundational content knowledge to that end.
  • Seeing themselves as engaging interpreters and teachers of the diversity of Jewish historical and spiritual experience in ways that are meaningful for contemporary Jewish life.
  • Seeing their own meaningful religious and spiritual development as the essence of their roles as models and guides for others.
  • Seeing themselves as active members and inspiring creators of a caring community that meets the needs of the present and works towards a better future.

Courses of Study 

The Year-In-Israel begins with a Hebrew Ulpan and other foundational learning to get students ready for the full complement of courses and experiences in the fall and spring.  The summer term begins at the start of July and runs through middle of August. The term starts with an orientation about the program, life in Israel, and being part of a school community. Alongside Hebrew, students will engage in other foundational learning that will prepare them for leading services and reading Torah during the year, and setting goals for their religious and spiritual lives and journeys. The formal learning component is Sunday-Thursday from morning until early afternoon. During the summer, the Community Life Office will plan Shabbat and cultural programming, and offer students guidance to make their own plans to explore Jerusalem and Israel.

  • Modern Hebrew (Alef, Bet, Gimel)
  • Biblical Grammar
  • Introduction to Torah Text and Rashi (Level 1) OR Introduction to Torah Text and Medieval Commentary (Level 2)
  • Sites and Sources (Field Trips)
  • Introduction to Jewish History OR Topics in Jewish History
  • Israel Seminar
  • Liturgy
  • Worship Lab and Tefillah
  • Beginner OR Advanced Cantillation of the Torah
  • Introduction to Talmud Level 1 OR Level 2
  • Beit Midrash (with Israeli Rabbinic Program students)
  • Jewish Responses to Modernity (Winter break elective, for credit)

Cantorial Students Only:

  • Cantorial Coaching
  • Cantorial Workshop
  • Musicianship

Rabbinical Students Only:

  • Rabbinic Workshop
  • The Jew in the Contemporary Jewish World OR The Arab Israel Conflict (Spring semester elective)

Other Activities:

  • Israeli Culture evenings will be offered throughout the year (some will be required).
  • Students will be assigned in small groups to advisors (clergy who are members of the HUC Jerusalem faculty) throughout the year, and they will meet occasionally.
  • Israel Seminar and “Sites and Sources” courses will have required tiyulim/field trips, some of which are overnights.
  • A number of required holiday and Shabbat services will be scheduled to both build community and offer students the opportunity to develop their tefillah leadership skills.
  • Travel opportunities such as a spring-break study visit to Lithuania and the FSU Pesach Partnership Project are offered to students.
  • To grow as future community leaders, students are invited to co-create the programming that turns the Year-In-Israel into a vibrant social and spiritual community. To that end, students are invited to work with the Coordinator of Community Life through participation on committees that express their particular interests and backgrounds. An activity fee of NIS 650 is collected at the beginning of the program to facilitate student-initiated programming.

Course Placement  

To accommodate the diverse backgrounds of incoming students, Modern Hebrew, Liturgy, Biblical Grammar, Jewish Texts, and Jewish History are taught in sections based on Hebrew level, prior coursework, or demonstrated proficiency.

Every effort will be made to ensure that each student studies at an appropriate level for each discipline. The assignment of Hebrew classes is not final, and, upon the request of a student, the recommendation of the instructor, and the approval of the YII Director, the student may shift up or down during the term. It is to the advantage of the student to make such a change as early as possible, after the first week of studies.

Placement in a beginning Hebrew level is not a reflection of the student’s academic potential. It is merely an indication of a student’s language level at a particular point in time.