Reflections of a Nativ 36 Parent

Stacey Urbach

When we first considered supporting our daughter to take a gap year, we shared the concern that perhaps she would end up “behind” her peers. What we ultimately came to believe is that she should not live her young adult life as if in a race, but rather take the time to explore herself, take on new challenges and have different experiences.

The choice to spend the year in Israel on Nativ was a relatively easy one. Having attended camp Ramah since the age of 9 our daughter was very comfortable with the feel of the conservative movement. With the first half of the year being spent studying and the second half devoted to volunteer experiences, Nativ seemed to offer a very well balanced program. There were many opportunities for independence, yet a clear structure that would ensure that the year would not be wasted.

Our daughter has now begun her first year at university. While she has not started with her peers from high school she is, in fact, “ahead” in so many ways. She is incredibly independent, calm and level-headed. She knows where she wants to go and how she intends to get there. Most of all, her problem solving skills are unrivalled.

Our daughter has travelled all over the country she loves – by bus or train, alone or with friends. She has taken interesting courses that she would otherwise not have selected.  She has a deep understanding of the challenges faced by the State of Israel and her people. She has celebrated every Jewish Holiday in Israel – walking in the middle of the road on Yom Kippur, listening to an address by President Rivlin on Yom Hazikaron and dancing all night on Yom Ha’atzmaut. She visited Shimon Peres as he lay in state and was blessed by the Kohanim at the Kotel on Pesach. Through her volunteer experience living in a youth village and teaching English to “at risk” teens,  and working with Magen David Adom she has become fluent in Hebrew and learned to think clearly even during challenging situations.

Our daughter has made unbelievable, lifelong friends who she learned to depend on and turn to while we were very far away.

For all these reasons, and many more, we feel that Nativ was an amazing choice for our daughter. We believe that the benefits will continue to be seen even many years from now. While it was hard to have her away, it was incredible to see the young woman who came home.


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