Following on the heels of the development of Kivunim and the expansion of the Year Course programs from Young Judea, The Alexander Muss Institute (best known for its High School program) has developed a new "gap year" program in Israel.
Called "SIACH" (Hebrew for "discussion," and also a mnemonic for study, Israel, academic, community, head and heart), it is an pluralist program based in Jerusalem (at Beit Shmuel) for high school graduates. On the agenda are weekly trips and outings, volunteering, professional internships, intensive Hebrew language study, interactions with Israel peers, and participation in Israeli cultural events. Here's how they distinguish themselves in their publicity:
"The gap year programs in Israel can, for the most part, be divided into 3 general categories: Jewish learning programs (i.e. yeshivas and seminaries), Israel experience programs, and university programs. SIACH is unique in that it combines the best of all three: Jewish learning on hot topics of interests to students, a multifaceted Israel experience by the experts in Israel education and the opportunity to earn nearly a year of college credit.
Furthermore, because SIACH is not affiliated with any particular movement students are not pushed to adopt a pre-determined ideology or life-style but rather to find their own path and chart their own course."
Participants are able to earn college credit under the auspices of Baltimore Hebrew University. Now in the middle of its first year (of around 20 participants), they are now accepting applications for the 2008-09 academic year.