The Programme

The Shnat Netzer year is broken into different “Experience” blocks, four months living and learning in Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish People, and volunteering in an Israeli community and/or living on a Kibbutz.

Group Experience

The group spends their first month in Israel all together, giving them the opportunity to get to know each other, and to get to know the country they will be living in.

Orientation Seminar:

The first week in Israel will be spent in Jersualem on the Orientation Seminar.  During this seminar the group will spend time getting to know each other and the Netzer staff who will be looking after them during the year.  During this seminar the Netzer staff will start to give the participants the tools they will need to live in Israel for the year, everything from rules and regs and details of medical insurance to the basic Hebrew needed to get the best deal in a taxi.

Group Kibbutz Experience:

The next 4 weeks will be spent on Kibbutz as one big group.  During this period the participants will not be taking part in what has become the traditional kibbutz experience of volunteering and living as a member of the kibbutz.  Instead they will be using the kibbutz as a base for them to be further equipped for living in Israel.

Activities will include periods of ulpan (learning to speak Hebrew), hikes in the local desert to bond the group together and day trips to explore other areas of Israel.  There will also be opportunities to meet the Australian and South african Shnatties who are on kibbutz at the end of their Shnat Netzer year.

Options Period

The options period offers an opportunity for participants to choose what aspect of Israeli life they wish to experience.  There is scope for participants to do activities in this period that fall outside of the main programme, but these must be discussed with the RSY-Netzer office and Shnat Director before you go.

Kibbutz Experience:

During the Kibbutz Experience participants will spend at least two months living on a Kibbutz, a traditional Israeli agricultural collective. Volunteer with an ecological project on a Progressive Kibbutz in the Arava. The experience will include informal study exploring the opportunities, challenges, and issues related to Progressive Kibbutz life, ideology, youth leadership, eco-Zionism, and the role of the Reform Movement in building these communities. There will be plenty of opportunities for desert hikes and group bonding. While on kibbutz participants will work along side kibbutz members and become an important part of the kibbutz community.

Shnat B’Ir Experience:

During Shnat B’Ir you will live and volunteer in an Israeli city and become part of the community. Participants integrate themselves into Israeli society by participating in a long term volunteer project and still live and work with members of your Shnat Netzer year group.

Jerusalem Experience

All participants spend the final four months of the year in Jerusalem and have the option of participating in either the Etgar or Machon programmes, which are both joint with participants from the Southern Hemisphere. Each programme is an innovative living and learning community.


A programme designed focusing on leadership, Reform Zionism and living in a community. This exciting experience is based in Jerusalem at Beit Shmuel, the headquarters of the World Union for Progressive Judaism and the campus of the Hebrew Union College. During Etgar you will participate in an innovative and experiential educational programme and build your own international Reform Zionist community – one that prays, learns, works, plays and lives together.

During the Etgar Experience participants will live in apartments in various Jerusalem neighbourhoods and learn life skills as they cook, clean, shop and budget together. Participants will live in fully furnished apartments in Jerusalem, sharing bathrooms and kitchen facilities.

During the day, Etgar participants learn about Zionism, Jewish and Israeli history, spirituality, community, leadership both in and out of the classroom. Sessions are taught by qualified instructors, many of whom themselves are graduates of Netzer. Additionally, all participants take weekly Hebrew classes taught by experienced and engaging teachers.

The educational program of Etgar is specifically designed to allow maximum interaction with other participants and with Israel. Topics are studied in a holistic way through discussions, movies, activities, speakers and day trips. Past topics have included: Democracy, Leaders of the Jewish People, Israel’s Role in World Affairs and others. Participants may also choose from a selection of “options” and delve more deeply into one of several topics such as Israel Advocacy, Jewish Spirituality and Prayer, or Leadership Skills (topics subject to change).

The balance of the week is spent in a mixture of day trips to sites throughout Israel, intense leadership training and activism.

Etgar employs a full time professional staff, based in Jerusalem including a programme director, educational director and Etgar leaders. All staff are over the age of 21 and are conversant in both English and Hebrew. We believe that participants learn budgeting and life skills more deeply when staff lives near, but not with the participants. All of the Etgar staff will be housed in their own homes in Jerusalem and be available 24 hours per day to participants.


Machon, also known as Machon Le’Madrichei Chutz La’Aretz (The Institute for Leaders from Abroad) is sponsored by the Jewish Agency for Israel. Established prior the founding of the State of Israel, Machon is an opportunity to learn about Israel, leadership and Zionism in a diverse community of young leaders. Made up of select participants from international Zionist youth movements across the religious spectrum, Machon is an opportunity to integrate Reform Zionism into a pluralistic environment.

Based at Kiryat Moriah in Jerusalem, Machon’s secure home is the headquarters’ of the Jewish Agency for Israel. This lively and exciting location is home not only to Machon, but also to many other Jewish Agency sponsored educational and leadership programmes with participants from around the world. Participants are housed in dormitory style rooms with en suite bathrooms and three daily meals provided in the Kiryat Moriah dining hall.

The Machon programme includes top lecturers, educators and leaders who offer courses in a variety of fields and topics including: Judaism, Israel & Zionism, Leadership, Jewish History and Hebrew. There is a large selection of courses and electives, with numerous opportunities for personal preference within the curriculum, using a wide range of informal components and activities such as creative electives, experiential education and outdoor learning. Weekly tours, sightseeing and extended trips throughout the country, as well as special seminars and opportunities for volunteering, give participants a taste of the rich variety of the land and culture of Israel.

Machon has a full time professional staff, available to participants 24 hours a day. In addition to the dedicated teachers and lecturers who work with Machon, a full time programme director, and two leaders are assigned to each group.

Group Experiences:

In addition to these amazing Experiences, all Shnat Netzer participants will take part in seminars, group Shabbatot and come to know the land of Israel through hiking and sightseeing.