ABOUT US

 
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WHAT IS SHVILIM?

A one of-a-kind gap year program with a combination of studies, experience and travelling in Israel, Europe and The United States. The program was founded in 2014 by the Jewish community of Oslo, and has had participants from Norway, Denmark and Sweden. In 2023 we’re opening up for Jewish youth aged 18-22 from Europe and Israel. Join us in an amazing year filled with meaningful, educational and adventurous experiences! The year involves living in an Israeli gap year institution (mehina), studying Judaism and Dialogue for Democratic Citizenship in the University of Oslo and travelling around the Jewish world (the US, Israel, some European communities) to learn about anti-semitism, Jewish and non-Jewish pluralism, as well as skills for leadership and dialogue. Join us in an amazing year filled with meaningful, educational and adventurous experiences! ​

HISTORY

The program is founded and hosted by the Jewish community in Oslo, Norway. Since 2015 we’ve had participants from Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Together they form a comprehensive group of alumni that use their knowledge and experience to further develop the local communities wherever they end up. We believe Shvilim is a unique addition to the flora of Jewish gap year programs. The participants have gained skills for democratic conversations through theory and practice, and built independence and leadership through travelling and meeting different perspectives. Throughout the years we have also made partnerships with other organizations that are experts in their field - securing the quality and stability of Shvilim’s program and structure. 

 

OUR VALUES

We believe in pluralism. Shvilim participants get to explore and define their Jewish identity on their own terms - throughout the year we meet with Jews and Jewish groups with differing backgrounds, denominations and opinions.  We believe in dialogue. How can our voices contribute to strengthening democracy and human rights where we live? How can we understand and respect others’ perspectives, even if we disagree with them?  ​ We believe in learning by doing. Throughout the year we will experience the pluralism of the Jewish world first-hand. We will practice avoiding bias and generalization and balance opposing opinions, seeing more than one side of the story. The participants have an active part in planning the activities and trips throughout the year. We want our participants to go back to their Jewish communities with skills of leadership and communication to help their communities develop as part of their respective societies.

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OUR PARTNERS

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Shvilim is founded and hosted by the Jewish community of Oslo (DMT), as part of the Norwegian government’s ‘Action plan against Anti-semitism’. The Action plan includes ecuation and training of Jewish youth, aiming to support them as leaders with vision and integrity, both for continuation of Jewish life and as part of the greater multicultural society. The community is small, but vibrant and busy, with activities hosted throughout the week for all age groups.

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Run by the Jewish Agency and MASA, Kol Ami joins Israeli and international Jewish youth together for a six month gap year program consisting of volunteer work, travels around Israel, leadership training and the responsibilities and creativity of living together as a community. Kol Ami is the only English-speaking mechina in Israel for both Israeli and international youth, where our Shvilim participants have joined in, and their experience is valuable in the further development of Shvilim.

 
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The Meitarim network assists in establishing and supporting inclusive educational frameworks, with the objective of enabling diverse populations on the Jewish-Israeli spectrum to live and study together in a pluralist environment.

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A gap year leadership-training program (mechina) for Israeli high school graduates focusing on religious, ethnic and socioeconomic pluralism. The mechina combines intensive studies in Jewish identity, Israeli society and philosophy, arts and environmentalism, as well as independent studies. Lachish is regarded by the Israeli Ministy of Education as one of the best mechinot in Israel (of nearly 40 independent programs). Shvilim is the first international gap year program partnering with Lachish, sharing the operative and administrative responsibility with the Jewish community of Oslo and the Kol Ami Jewish Peoplehood Leadership Academy. 

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As a world-leading organization for fighting antisemitism, racism and bias, ADL has broad impact. They have since 2015 been our main partner for our activities in the U.S., where they facilitate workshops for our participants in their NYC headquarters, as well as coordinating visits to various American Jewish institutions. Shvilim also participates in their yearly Washington D.C. summit to learn more about fighting hate politically.

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The Faculty of Theology at the University of Oslo conducts research and education within Theology, Interreligious, and Christian and Diaconal studies, and have recently announced a professorship in Judaism. We are happy to partner with a leading institution on interreligious dialogue in Norway. They will implement two academic courses specifically designed for and integrated throughout the Shvilim year, giving 30 academic credits in total (equivalent to a semester of full-time academic studies). One course centers on an academic understand of Jewish texts, life and history, and the other is a practice-based course on dialogue and bridge-building between multicultural groups for democratic citizenship.