About the Program


Shnat Hachshara is a yearlong educational and leadership gap year program in Israel for school leavers. The six Zionist youth movements of Australia run independent programs for their chanichim which combine various of Jewish learning experiences: leadership training, touring, hiking, Hebrew ulpan, kibbutz experiences, community service and the list goes on.

Shnat Hachshara refers to a year of preparation. In the early days of the establishment of the State of Israel, this referred to preparation for the challenges of aliya including learning the required farming skills to be able to physically build the land of Israel. Shnat Hachshara today prepares the participants as future leaders in the Australian community and as potential future olim. The programs predominantly focus on leadership, ideological and educational development in order that chanichim are ready to take on the world, their respective Jewish communities and more specifically their youth movements, as competent, educated and passionate leaders. The programs expose the participants to the real Israel, they have the opportunity to engage in hands on volunteering, explore issues with the support of excellent leaders and high calibre speakers.

The shnat year begins with the AZYC Opening Seminar, bringing together participants from all six Zionist Youth Movements. The seminar is a 5 day-long program encompassing touring, fun, hiking, inter-movement bonding and peulot which focus on being a part of a movement, Zionism, and the experience of being away from home for a year.

Furthermore, the AZYC works in conjunction with Machon L’Madrichei Chutz La’aretz (The Institute for Leaders from Abroad) which currently runs the opening intensive educational component for 4 of the 6 movements (Netzer offers alternative educational programs as well as the Machon, Bnei Akiva partakes in the religious Machon and Habonim Dror partakes in the Yesod program). The Machon has been a core component in Australian shnat programs for decades and is highly reputable for its high level of leadership development and educational programs which focus on Israel, Zionism, Judaism, Hebrew and movement understanding. The program also offers a range of hikes, touring opportunities and volunteering experiences in a pluralistic, inter-movement environment located in Jerusalem. The Machon has been instrumental in creating community leaders that have gone on to serve Australia and Israel in numerous ways.

Throughout the year, the AZYC, together with the Zionist Federation of Australia and StandWithUs, runs Hasbara seminars for participants who wish to engage with a very dynamic Israel Advocacy program.

The AZYC closes all the movements’ shnat programs with the AZYC Closing Seminar.

The programs currently offered by the Zionist movements today are as follows:


  • Machon
  • Development town volunteering
  • Betar Seminars – Sar-el, Ayalim
  • Maarva
  • Poland (provisional)

Bnei Akiva


  • 9 months learning in a religious seminary
  • Poland
  • Sarel
  • Volunteering (girls)
  • Bnei Akiva Seminars: Zionism, Hadracha, Shoah, Footsteps


  • Machon Dati
  • Religious Seminary
  • Kibbutz
  • Maarva or MDA
  • Poland
  • Volunteering

Habonim Dror

  • Two week intensive Ulpan and Hadracha Course (Derech)
  • Three and a half Month Yesod Program
  • Summer Kaveret
  • Poland
  • Kibbutz
  • Autumn Kaveret

Hashomer Hatzair

  • Educational Component
  • Volunteering Component
  • Kibbutz
  • Hashomer Hatzair seminars and activities


  • Machon
  • Hineni Seminar
  • Options: African Refugee Development Centre, Maarva, MDA, volunteering
  • Poland (upon interest being high enough)
  • Kibbutz
  • Closing and Opening Seminars


  • Machon/Etgar
  • Volunteering Period: includes options of overseas netzer youth camps/MDA/Maarva/Bedouin camps etc.
  • Kibbutz
  • Netzer seminars

Shnat graduates after returning from Israel are part of their movement for at least two years and help run their movements, run camps and involved in the Jewish community.

All Shnat programs are recognised by MASA Israel Journey – a joint project of the Government of Israel and the Jewish Agency for Israel.

For more information about any of the programs, please contact us or the Movement Program organiser.

Betar | Adam Schonker  | [email protected] | 0466 960 554
Bnei Akiva | Yakira Sarachik | [email protected] | 0400 447 755
Habonim Dror | Shai Pik | [email protected] | 0433 497 420
Hineni | Peninah Silverstein | [email protected] | 0450 250 247
Hashomer Hatzair | Aya Tamir-Regev| [email protected] | 0449 949 865
Netzer | Mikaela Webb| [email protected] | 0407 127 556