F R O M  A  S H V I L I M 

A L U M N I

Hi! My name is Tali, I am 21 years old and I come from Oslo. 3 years ago I participated in a gap year program called Shvilim, especially designed for Scandinavian Jewish Youth.

So... what is Shvilim?

Shvilim is an Israel-based gap year program for Scandinavian youth, suitable for both religious and secular Jews alike. I wanted to go to Israel for a year, not just on holiday and also not just to work or study, and therefore I chose to participate in Shvilim after high school. During the year I experienced the Jewish world through studies, travelling and meeting new people – all the while being independent and having time for my own interests.

What is unique about Shvilim?

I loved the variety of the program. The balance of studying, volunteering, social activities and leisure time gave me so many different experiences, but I still felt like I was independent and in charge of my own everyday life. Through the different parts of the program I saw and learnt so much; in the historical and lively Jerusalem with Jews from abroad. In the beautiful and serene Golan Heights in a group of Israeli teenagers. In Oslo, living the student life while getting to know the other Scandinavians. And of course in New York, experiencing Jewish America. All of these wildly diverse projects, places, people and perspectives gave me knowledge and friendships I wouldn't have otherwise.

What’s in it for you?

Personally, the most important thing I gained from Shvilim was getting to know Israel from the inside. Growing up, I always felt I “knew” Israel by going there with my parents to visit relatives, but in retrospect, it was always with a rental car and I never met new people. After Shvilim I feel more at home there, having Israeli friends, being able to converse in Hebrew and having seen and learnt about all kinds of places all over the country. It’s also a serious and academic gap year program that can give you opportunities later in life. The study points are helpful when applying to universities in both Israel and Scandinavia alike, and right now I am using the competence I gained from Shvilim in my full-time job as a “Jødisk veiviser” (brobygger) – I visit high schools all over Norway talking to students about Jewish life and identity.

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