2 Mechina participants backpacking in the desert on a path with a group of participants in the distance.


A place to
become a leader.
explore Judaism.
experience Israel.
break through your limits.
take responsibility.
Contact Us

What is Shvilim?

Three Mechina participants looking at the Israel view.

A one of-a-kind gap year program with a combination of studies, experience and travelling in Israel, Europe, and the United States.

The program was founded in 2014 by the Jewish community of Oslo, and has had participants from Norway, Denmark and Sweden. In 2023 we’re opening up for Jewish youth aged 18-22 from Europe and Israel. Join us in an amazing year filled with meaningful, educational and adventurous experiences!

The year involves living in an Israeli gap year institution (mehina), studying Judaism and Dialogue for Democratic Citizenship in the University of Oslo and travelling around the Jewish world (the US, Israel, some European communities) to learn about anti-semitism, Jewish and non-Jewish pluralism, as well as skills for leadership and dialogue. Join us in an amazing year filled with meaningful, educational and adventurous experiences!

History of the Program

Shvilim participants walking up a mountain in the dessert.

The program is founded and hosted by the Jewish community in Oslo, Norway. Since 2015 we’ve had participants from Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Together they form a comprehensive group of alumni that use their knowledge and experience to further develop the local communities wherever they end up.

We believe Shvilim is a unique addition to the flora of Jewish gap year programs. The participants have gained skills for democratic conversations through theory and practice, and built independence and leadership through travelling and meeting different perspectives. Throughout the years we have also made partnerships with other organizations that are experts in their field - securing the quality and stability of Shvilim’s program and structure.

Galil Elyon LogoShvilim Logo

Program Details


10 months

Start Date

August 27, 2023

End Date

June 15, 2024


All over the world!



*$18,500 For Europeans





*With Hebrew lessons

About Galil Elyon

Whole mechina taking a picture outdoors.

The Upper Galilee Leadership Academy (Mechinat Galil Elyon) was founded in 1998 with the spirit of democracy and pioneering and the mission of shaping identity and cultivating young leaders with values. Who are able to influence and are committed to the Jewish people and the Israeli society. The Academy enforces taking responsibility and leading while being caring and sensitive to one's surroundings for a better future.

Galil Elyon fosters a strong connection to Israeli, Jewish, and Zionist heritage. Our leaders search for the greater impact that they can have within the Israeli society.

The Mechina has 5 groups throughout the Galilee (including a six-month program for youth from all over the world). There are a total of 250 participants a year and 2,500 alumni.

Key Parts of the Program

The program starts at the University of Oslo, where you will study and earn college credits. One course centers on an academic understand of Jewish texts and history, and the other is a practice-based course on building bridges between different groups for democratic citizenship.

The Program

  • Norway flag
    Oslo, Norway

    27 August 2023 - mid October 2023

    University of Oslo, the Theological Faculty

    The program starts in Oslo as an introduction to the year and the academic studies at the University of Oslo. The academic courses begin here, and are integrated throughout the year. One course centers on an academic understand of Jewish texts and history, and the other is a practice-based course on building bridges between different groups for democratic citizenship. The weeks in Oslo also focus on building a good group dynamic where you together make decisions and take an active part in planning the year.

  • Israel flag
    Amir, Israel

    Mid October 2023 - March 2024

    Upper Galilee Leadership Academy

    Israel is the main base of Shvilim, where we take part in various learning experiences exploring Judaism, Jewish culture and history as well as Israeli society. While centered in Kibbutz Amir in the beautiful Galil, we will do trips to other parts of the country, volunteer, hike and meet people all across Israeli society. We will have classes, leadership courses, volunteer work, Hebrew classes as needed and army preparations for the Israeli participants. Through activities, shared-living and meetings with different Jewish voices and perspectives you will have a chance to get to know and develop your own Jewish identity.

  • Europe flag

    March 2024 - April 2024

    Jewish Communities in Europe

    We believe that learning about the diversity of the Jewish world is key in finding our own place in it. We plan to visit a few Jewish communities in Europe to learn from their successes and challenges as minorities, and understand how they cooperate with other minority and majority groups in their respective countries. We want our participants to acquire tools that can help them be an active part in building their own communities after Shvilim.

  • United States flag
    United States

    April 2024 - May 2024

    Jewish Communities and Training with ADL

    In May we travel to New York and other cities on the east coast of the U.S. We learn about Anti-semitism from the Anti Defamation League (ADL) and how to fight it in practice. We visit Jewish communities, institutions and organizations working with a variety of groups and topics. A highlight is participating in ADL’s annual summit for young adults in Washington D.C.

  • Israel flag

    May 2024 - June 2024

    Exploring & Program Summary

    Arriving back to Israel, the participants will continue to explore Israel, take part in a variety of courses (including assignments for the University of Oslo courses), do volunteer work, and live together in the framework of the mechina.

Our Partners

Kol Ami LogoADL LogoJewish Community of Oslo LogoMeitarim LogoUniversity of Oslo Logo