New Special Needs Track in Nativ Gap-Year Program

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This fall, college-bound young adults with cognitive and social challenges can take part in a gap year program in Israel. Yozma, which means “initiative,” will be part of the Nativ College Leadership program, a popular gap year program created in 1981 by the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. Yozma students will spend a year with Nativ peers, living, learning and volunteering with the support of specially trained staff. “We must intensify our efforts to include everyone in the full gamut of Jewish life, ” said Rabbi Steven Wernick, CEO of United Synagogue. “Nativ is an extraordinary program, with tremendous impact, and we are thrilled that a wider range of young people will now have a chance to experience it.” In its pilot year, Yozma will accept four students. Initial funding has been provided by donors from across North America who are dedicated to providing an opportunity for this under-served population. Stephanie Smerling of Chicago, Illinois, has been instrumental in raising funds for the initial cohort. For more information contact Deborah Shafran at or 212.533.7800, ext 1115.