TAU announces launch of gap year Exploration, Leadership and Innovation program

Diplomat, entrepreneur, and academic Dr. Ronen Hoffman to lead college preparatory project

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Tel Aviv University (TAU) has launched a groundbreaking new leadership gap-year program, Exploration, Leadership and Innovation (ELI), the first gap-year program in Israel to offer Jewish youth from around the world an opportunity to enrich their identity and leadership skills through an ambitious and immersive college-preparatory approach that centers engagement with Judaism, Jewish culture, and the Startup Nation. The program features world-class academic training, extracurricular activities, and mentorship opportunities with key Israeli public figures.

ELI will be led by renowned diplomat, entrepreneur, and academic Dr. Ronen Hoffman, the former Ambassador of Israel to Canada.

ELI, which will be run in English and offered through The Lowy International School at TAU, draws on Israel’s and TAU’s global leadership across a diversity of sectors, in addition to the country’s rich Jewish history and present. Students will be given the opportunity to participate in the program for either five months or ten months, and will choose for-credit classes from across five areas of study.

The program combines classroom instruction with immersive learning and visits to key sites; networking opportunities within Israel’s Startup Nation; workshops focused on areas of excellence at TAU, such as cybersecurity and artificial intelligence; meaningful service-learning projects; Hebrew learning at TAU’s multi-level Ulpan; leadership learning from experts in fields such as politics, entrepreneurship, media, and technology; and extracurricular and group bonding activities, including through field trips across Israel.

“In much of my career, including as a diplomat, a politician, and an entrepreneur, I have focused on young leadership development,” Dr. Hoffman says. “I’ve done this by working with universities and other institutions and by founding programs like Camp Kimama. The seeds of leadership are planted at a young age — to see a better world, we need to be supporting the next generation as much as possible.”

Dr. Hoffman has also served as a member of the Knesset for Yesh Atid. He is a cofounder of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, one of the leading global institutes of its kind, as well as the founder of Camp Kimama, Israel’s largest international summer camp, with sites also in the USA, Italy, Austria, and Spain

“Israel’s story is about a shared nation for Jewish communities worldwide,” says TAU President Professor Ariel Porat. “Ensuring this continued legacy has never been more critical. The ELI program is an exciting new way to keep strong the connections between Israel and young Jewish people everywhere.”

The Lowy International School, led by Maureen Adiri Meyer, welcomes more than 2,000 students each year from over 100 countries and has more than 30,000 international student alumni worldwide. The school serves as the hub for all on-campus international activities, including study programs, research partnerships, student exchanges, visiting scholars, and conferences.

The first cohort of ELI students will join TAU in August 2024. Plans are also in the works for the ELI program to offer a study abroad component in Florence, Italy.

"The ELI program is an exciting new way to keep strong the connections between Israel and young Jewish people everywhere.”