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June 26, 2016
Countdown to Nesiya!
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  • 5 weeks in Israel ~ June 27 – August 1
  • Group Flight? Departs from NY on June 26
  • Tution? $6,950 + flight cost

    Nesiya allows participants to choose between a chaperoned group flight from New York and flying on one’s own. The price for the group flight is $1,550.

  • Merit & Need-Based Scholarship Opportunities Available

    We provide generous need and merit-based financial aid for those who need it, and will work with you to find sources of funding in your community. For more information about financial aid, please contact us.

  • Ages? Exiting grades 10-12
  • Safety and Security

    The Nesiya Institute and Keshet, the Nesiya 2016 program operator, hold the group’s safety and security in their highest priority. Furthermore, all participants are covered by health, travel and tuition protection insurance.

  • More questions?

    Check out our Frequently Asked Questions page FAQ or email us at info@nesiya.org!

The Nesiya Summer Program

The Nesiya Summer Program provides participants with a life-changing Israel experience combining outdoor adventure, workshops in the visual, performing and literary arts, community service projects, cultural activities and creative Jewish study in Israel.

Meet artists, educators, nature guides, activists, and community leaders who will work side by side with you creating, exploring, learning and building. Participants travel through four regions of Israel – the Negev, Galil, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and the Judean Desert – and focus on the origins, development, and role of the land of Israel in the future of the Jewish people.

This summer, take a journey that makes a difference! Join Nesiya for five weeks in Israel with Israeli and North American peers from diverse backgrounds.

Click on the tabs below to find out more about Nesiya's culture, and see below for more details on our program model…

Nesiya has a 30 year track record of designing and conducting programs according to the highest standards, including: a high ratio of talented Senior Educators and Counselor-educators to students (at least 1 staff member for every 8 students), who participate in year-round staff training, and most of whom work for Nesiya for several years; arranging private workshops and concerts with leading Israeli artists, activists and educators (i.e. Ehud Banai, Michael Oren, Shlomo Gronich, Ami Ayalon, etc.); recruiting diverse Israeli peers to participate in every program; choosing distinctive, high-quality facilities in four regions of Israel; providing full-time logistical support to improve the quality of meal and snacks; and providing meaningful follow-up program and networking opportunities for Nesiya alumni.

Nesiya adheres to stringent safety and security standards, as authorized by the "Situation Room," of the Society for Protection of Nature, in cooperation with the Israeli army. The challenges of the current security and political situation have strengthened Nesiya's philosophy and methods for conducting programs that challenge and inspire young people to significantly develop their personal relationships with the people, land, and cultures of Israel.

Nesiya programs draw on an interdisciplinary core curriculum developed by Nesiya that integrates Tanakh, Rabbinics, Jewish History, and Land of Israel Studies with arts workshops, Israeli cultural experiences, and visits to sites throughout Israel. The goal of the curriculum is to provide students with tools to understand and develop their own relationships with the Jewish people, the land and modern State of Israel, Jewish culture and Judaism. The curriculum integrates four themes in Jewish life throughout history: the role of place, Jewish sovereignty, social justice, and spirituality and creativity. This experiential curriculum encourages young people and provides them with tools to grapple with the diversity and complexity of modern Jewish life.
Nesiya assumes that the study of Jewish texts is essential to the exploration of Judaism and Israel. Creative text study is, therefore, a critical component in Nesiya programs. Participants explore the relevance of modern and traditional Jewish texts through dialogue, chevruta study and small group study, storytelling, theater improv, and other creative activities. While the program offers no "right" answers, approaches, or conclusions, Nesiya encourages participants to take Jewish texts seriously, and develop their skills as "close" as well as "creative" readers, keeping their minds open to new possibilities and interpretations.
The Nesiya program consists of a regional curriculum which encourages participants to explore the physical geography and cultural/historical sites of Israel, and how they reflect specific themes and tensions in Jewish life – both ancient and modern. The Nesiya program includes extended periods in four regions of the country: the Negev, the Galilee, Jerusalem – Tel Aviv, and the Judean Desert.
The Nesiya program includes a several-day community service project which benefits Israeli children, and which can be developed to include a group of Israeli peers from diverse backgrounds. Tikkun olam, repairing the world, is a fundamental value in Jewish life. In addition to grappling with the challenges of building their own community, a community service project leads students to ask questions about their obligation and desire to contribute to the larger community. These projects enable the students not only to take a great deal from their time in Israel, but also to give back in a way that makes a difference.
Nesiya includes unique cultural experiences, arts exercises and arts workshops in different media, ranging in length from a few hours to two days. There is usually a several day period at the end of the program for preparation and presentation of personal projects, during which students work with their staff and professional arts educators to develop and create their projects. These art activities provide invaluable opportunities for students to reflect upon and explore the personal significance of their experiences, and to heighten their awareness of how they are creating their own path in Jewish life. No arts background is required for students to benefit from as well as contribute to the vitality and relevance of these experiences.

The Nesiya program is designed to inspire students to enrich Jewish life for others as well as themselves. A unique emphasis on Nesiya is on building a community in which being an individual and being part of a group are both important. In a group of diverse individuals, students are encouraged to express themselves personally and to contribute to the development of the group as a whole.

To help foster community building and individual students' development as leaders, participants are encouraged to lead many activities during the program with the assistance and support of staff including everything from wake-up activities to planning and running educational programs, tours of sites, and a range of Shabbat programs and activities. Participants also take responsibility for the day to day life of the group in areas such as supplies, meals, wake-up, study, and prayer options. Participants can also prepare for educational leadership roles in advance of the program, using educational materials and experiential educational activity kits provided by the Nesiya Institute.

The program observes common denominators that are necessary for Jews of different backgrounds to live together. The Nesiya program is strictly Kosher, and no full-group activities are conducted on the Shabbat or holidays which would violate traditional observance. Participants are encouraged to explore each other's practices and beliefs without feeling coerced in any way to change their own. Study, creative expression, and celebration of Jewish life in a diverse group allow individuals to experience diversity as a powerful resource for personal growth and meaning.

The participation of Israelis on the program is critical to creating an opportunity for participants to explore Israel as insiders. Nesiya offers participants shared living and learning experiences with a diverse group of Israeli peers.

Nesiya is committed to recruiting appropriate Israeli participants who speak English and are prepared to join a non-Israeli group for a brief period. We have been most successful in creating the cross-cultural connection between Israeli and American teens. The North American participants often come back to study, visit, or live in Israel, and by keeping in touch with their Israeli friends on Nesiya they create an even deeper connection to their friends, the people, and the land of Israel.

Each day, there will be an average of 1.5 hours allotted for free time during the afternoon or early evening hours. During this time, students will be required to stay within the boundaries of the base, unless they have arranged to be off-base with a staff member, or have checked out of the program for a visit with family or friends (as arranged in advance with the Nesiya office).

For the home hospitality experience, the participants may go to visit family or friends in Israel; Nesiya can also place those teens who do not have family or friends in Israel with the Israeli families of their peers on the program. During all home hospitality experiences, students are expected to adhere to strict safety and security guidelines, a copy of which must be signed by hosts prior to the teens' visit.

Home hospitality experiences are organized and conducted according to strict rules regarding how a participant travels to and from the program, and include a double confirmation procedure for making sure each family of each participant knows where their sons and daughters will be spending the free Shabbat.

The staff for Nesiya is usually comprised of Nesiya veteran counselor-educators and/or other staff, who are selected and trained by Nesiya in Israel. The group is typically led by a designated "Head Counselor-Educator," who is supervised by one or more members of the Senior Staff. A "Head Counselor-Educator" is selected on the basis of their prior demonstrated leadership abilities as an educator, counselor, and leader and community-builder among both staff and participants.

Working alongside the "Head Counselor" are one or more full-time "counselor-educators." Individuals hired to work as counselor-educators on Nesiya usually possess a combination of aptitudes and/or demonstrated skills including: counseling, outdoor guiding, group facilitation skills, leadership of arts activities, and Jewish text teaching.

Nesiya also provides Senior Staff who run educational activities, supervise the staff and the educational program, and oversee the logistical functioning of the program. Senior Staff are usually in-residence, for an average of four or five days of each week during the program.

One of the full-time staff, according to most proposed scenarios, is a logistics coordinator with a car who provides supplies, snacks, and special outdoor meals, and also transports participants to the doctor whenever needed. Sometimes the logistics coordinator is also a veteran counselor who contributes educational leadership and counseling skills to the program.

Nesiya is conducted according to clearly delineated rules and guidelines which prohibit any behavior which is destructive to oneself or others. The participants are required to keep three primary commitments or rules throughout the duration of the program.

These three rules are: no sexual intimacy, no drugs or alcohol, and taking responsibility for one's own personal health and well-being.

The rules all serve the same purpose: to support the exploration, growth and expression of both individuals and the group as a whole, and to insure the health and safety of all participants. Students and their parents are provided with a statement of the philosophy of community building and the rules of the program in advance, which is finalized in coordination with the client organization.

The Nesiya office in Jerusalem works closely with client organizations to maintain effective and prompt communications about all health and behavioral matters, and to respond to any other issues raised by the client organization or sponsor. The client organization serves as the primary liaison with the parents, and is responsible for collecting all necessary registration information, including medical forms, and fully informing Nesiya of any relevant issues that might affect a participant's ability to participate constructively in the program. Nesiya also maintains a website and posts digital photographs of the program each week, along with a brief report on the program, which can also be posted on the client organization's website.

Nesiya can offer the option of purchasing lowest possible airfares and flexible terms for reserving and purchasing all of the required airfare tickets through Nesiya. Nesiya is able to offer this service through its relationships with several wholesale travel agencies. Nesiya charges a per-ticket handling fee, which is determined at the time of agreement regarding this service.

Nesiya's proposal usually includes a fee schedule based on varying numbers of participants. If low numbers of participants cause the cost of the program to be greater than a client organization can afford, Nesiya stands ready to work with the client organization to cut certain features in the program in order to reduce the per-student fees charged to the school.

The per student tuition fee includes: all room and board costs, all land transportation costs, full time counselor-educators and senior staff, program materials, entrance fees, books, health insurance, visiting artists and educators, special events, staff training, source books and curriculum guides.

Did you pack your…?

  • Hiking Boots — to hike up and down the mountains in the Judean Desert and Arava in the Negev
  • Bathing suit — to swim around the Kineret and Mediterranean Sea
  • Sandals — to walk around Israel during the summer
  • Frisbee and other games — to play during free time
  • Musical Instrument — to play during pre-Kabbalat Shabbat, workshops, and throughout the summer
  • Camera — to take pictures of beautiful Israel and amazing new friends
  • Hebrew-English Dictionary — to look up some words during a text study, or to converse with your new Israeli friends

Program Model

Outdoor Adventures in Four Regions of Israel

The five-week Nesiya Experience traces the development of the Jewish people in the land of Israel. We begin in the Negev desert, travel to the Galilee, reach Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and conclude in the Judean desert. In each region, we hike through diverse landscapes and explore connections with the land, the culture, modern Israeli society, and our own experiences.

“I liked moving around and seeing the land, feeling it. That is the way I will think of Israel.”

Benjamin Brenner, Ann Arbor, MI

Cultural Experiences and Arts Workshops

Modern Israeli culture and the arts provide unique opportunities to be part of a two-way conversation about what Judaism and Israel mean to you personally. Arts workshops provide opportunities to reflect on and respond to your experiences. Workshops are led by dynamic arts educators.

No special background or skills are necessary to participate in these workshops, which emphasize experimentation with ideas and techniques. The atmosphere is non-competitive, and most participants try areas of expression that are new for them.

The five-week Nesiya Experience traces the development of the Jewish people in the land of Israel. We begin in the Negev desert, travel to the Galilee, reach Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and conclude in the Judean desert. In each region, we hike through diverse landscapes and explore connections with the land, the culture, modern Israeli society, and our own experiences.

“I discovered a totally new creative part of me through arts workshops. I became more confident and felt as though my opinions and ideas really make a difference.”

Ruby Gardner, Beverly Hills, CA

Community Service

On Nesiya we practice the art of giving, a fundamental value in Jewish life. Each Nesiya group completes at least one three-day community service project – usually in a residential school for children from troubled families. Projects have included building playgrounds, painting murals, teaching English, and leading camp activities with Israeli children and teens.

The five-week Nesiya Experience traces the development of the Jewish people in the land of Israel. We begin in the Negev desert, travel to the Galilee, reach Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and conclude in the Judean desert. In each region, we hike through diverse landscapes and explore connections with the land, the culture, modern Israeli society, and our own experiences.

“The community service project was a unique and exciting experience. To stop for a moment and give of yourself to others. To go outside our closed communities and to see our power as a community to contribute to others and to build. It was a wonderful feeling to give to others and, at least for a little while, try to make them smile.”

Reut Amar, Pisgat Ze'ev, Israel

Israeli Peers, Home Hospitality, and Hebrew

Many people tour Israel, but few have the opportunity to live, study, and create a community with Israeli peers. Israeli participants and staff are full members of the Nesiya program. North Americans live, travel, and make lasting relationships with Israelis from secular, traditional, and religious Jewish backgrounds. Israeli participants come from a range of backgrounds including kibbutzim, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, development towns, Ethiopia, and the former Soviet Union. North Americans stay for an extended weekend at the homes of either one of the Israeli participants or with family and friends. The Nesiya Experience provides unique opportunities for North Americans to learn and speak Hebrew – regardless of prior Hebrew knowledge. Activities are conducted in both English and Hebrew.

The five-week Nesiya Experience traces the development of the Jewish people in the land of Israel. We begin in the Negev desert, travel to the Galilee, reach Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and conclude in the Judean desert. In each region, we hike through diverse landscapes and explore connections with the land, the culture, modern Israeli society, and our own experiences.

“The fact that part of the group was Israeli gave an amazing point of view. I broke down my stereotypes and asked the Israelis what I wanted to know. I had never met an Ethiopian Jew before and being able to become good friends with them has been absolutely amazing...”

Liz Foreman, Niskayuna, NY

Judaism and Shabbat

Nesiya does not have a single point of view regarding Judaism or Israel. The program attracts participants and staff from Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstructionist, secular and non-affiliated backgrounds, as well as others who have little or no Jewish background. Nesiya observes common denominators that are necessary for Jews of different backgrounds to live together and learn from one another. The program is strictly kosher, and no full group activities are conducted which violate traditional observance of Shabbat. Participants are encouraged to explore each other’s practices and beliefs, without feeling coerced to change their own. Prayer is always optional. Shabbat is a special time. We celebrate and explore Jewish rituals, spirituality and values. We welcome and close the Shabbat together. Participants create and organize many Shabbat experiences including prayer options and singing.

“I am looking at different kinds of Jews with different eyes - without judging them.”

D'vir Gezuntheit, Jerusalem Israel

Community Building

Participants and staff build a dynamic community that values both independence and belonging. In a group of North Americans and Israelis who differ greatly from one another, individuals feel comfortable questioning others and expressing themselves, while participating in the development of a community.

“I learned to respect people who are different than me, and still be able to stand up for myself. Living in this community allowed me to experience how different people get along with each other and how to create a community where everyone takes part.”

Carmel Avrahami, Efrat, Israel

Creative Study

Several times each week, participants and staff engage in creative study of both traditional and modern texts. We explore the relevance of Jewish culture through dialogue, personal stories, theater improv, and other creative activities.

“I studied texts for the first time with people who have very different views from mine. I have been studying Jewish texts since I was in first grade, but never in this way.”

Leah Dickstein, Teaneck, NJ

Fun, Recreation, and Free Time

Being on Nesiya is fun as well as challenging. While the program is highly structured, free time is provided every day, usually during the afternoon or evening at the base residence. Participants can rest, write letters, or enjoy a range of activities including swimming, sports, or just hanging out with friends.