Spending a year in Israel has been a constructive rite of passage for thousands of Jewish kids for decades. It allows them, as they leave their homes, to embrace their tradition and homeland on their own terms. The sociologist Robert Bellah lamented that modern America’s maturation process often entails cutting oneself from one’s family, one’s traditions, one’s anchors. Spending time in Israel — a sister democracy which is traditional, family-oriented, and rooted — challenges young Jews to think about their identities, and recalibrate them in ways that help resist the moral anarchy and identity nihilism epidemic on college campuses.
Gil Troy, “Gap-Years In Israel As Rx For Jewish Alienation”, The Jewish Week (28 March 2014), 32.