Will I be able to receive any college credit?

YES!  We can arrange your day so that you can take college courses at Santa Monica Community College, one of the highest ranked community colleges in the country or Los Angeles City College.  We also offer college credit for your Judaic learning class and your internship.

Will I be able to defer college admission?

Yes! Most often colleges will allow a deferral for students if they are looking to participate in a structured program. Even if the college you are going to doesn’t have a formal deferment program, we can often write a letter to the Dean of Admissions and President and the will allow you to participate in Tzedek America and hold your spot.

How much free time will I have?

More thank you think.  Every Sundays, Saturday afternoon,  and three weeknights a week, and one weekend a month will be free. The recreation committee will plan events for the entire group throughout the year.

Will there be winter and spring vacations?

There will be two breaks matching the breaks of most major academic institutions.

How much does the program cost?

The subsidized cost for the program is $25,000.  There is plenty of financial aid to make this program affordable for you. Tzedek America is committed to making its program financially accessible.  If the full cost of the program is prohibitive, please inquire about financial aid.

How will I get around Los Angeles?

You are responsible for local transportation, but we will help you figure it out.  Through LYFT, bicycle, and public transportation, you’ll be able to get around quite easily.

Will there be an adult living on-site?

Yes. A trained and responsible college graduate, we call the House Guide/RA will live on-site.

Will I be able to walk to a synagogue?

During home hospitality Shabbat, you will be able to walk to synagogue.  On other Shabbatot you may choose to walk to the USC Hillel or one of two nearby Chabad Houses.  If you are comfortable with driving on Shabbat we can accommodate you being driven to a nearby synagogue if you so choose.

What will Shabbat be like?

We will celebrate Shabbat together either at the house or with local Jewish communities.  When we are organizing our own unique Shabbat and prayer experience, we will be all together. We will offer several Shabbat home hospitality options throughout the year.  We also have a relationship with University of Southern California and will be celebrating Shabbat with them quite often.

What about Jewish/religious practice?

We don’t care what kind of Jew you are, just be open and willing to learn.  Tzedek America is a non-denominational Jewish program welcoming to all strands of Jewish observance.  A central component of Tzedek America is to teach about the spectrum of Judaism that exists in the United States.  Up until this point, a teenager’s Jewish practice has been the practice of their household.  Tzedek America will give its participants the opportunity to explore all of the denominations of Judaism that exist, including “cultural Judaism.”  All major Jewish holidays will be celebrated in some manner in the program.

Is Tzedek America supportive of the LGBTQ community?

Yes! Tzedek America prides itself on being a safe and welcoming place for all students regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.  We are community where diversity is not merely tolerated but celebrated.

Will I be able to keep Kosher? Will I be able to eat gluten-free? Vegan?

Tzedek America is an institutionally kosher program.  The director of the program is dairy-free and his daughter is a vegetarian and his wife is a vegetarian and gluten-free.  All that is to say, Tzedek America is very conscious of people’s individual food needs.  Avram Mandell, the director considers himself a foodie and grew up in a catering family.  The meals promise to be delicious and healthy, especially when eaten in proportion.

How will meals work?

Tzedek Americans will work in teams on a rotation basis working in the kitchen.  Kitchen management and food preparations will be taught to all participants by local professional chefs.  Cold breakfasts are prepared by each individual and hot breakfasts are made in batches of 10 by whoever wishes a hot breakfast.  Lunch foods will be provided for but made by each participant except on Shabbat.   Dinners will be prepared by the cooking teams.

Do I need to know Hebrew or have a formal Jewish education?

No!

What is the formal educational component?

The formal educational component will not feel like a classroom but serious learning will occur throughout the entire experience.  There will even be an option for you to acquire college credit for your experience as a Tzedek American through an accredited college.  The formal learning will consist of a social justice and Jewish identity curriculum.  There will be a chance during the year for the Tzedek  Americans to choose their own learning paths, including inviting guest educators from across the country chosen by the Tzedek America participants to come and share their expertise.

What is the informal educational component?

The reality of your entire educational experience in Tzedek America is informal learning.  The main goal of Tzedek America is to help you grow as a human being.  You will explore your passions and learn to articulate your beliefs about living in America and as a Jew.  Specifically, you will learn skills such as cooking, budgeting, travel planning, hands-on “fix-it” skills and negotiating.  The majority of this learning will be through doing not through text studies and discussions.  The list of skills and experience you gain from Tzedek America will be vast and stick with you for the rest of your life.

What is the age range for participating?

Tzedek America participants are 17-20 years old. Many students attend Tzedek America right after graduating high school. Others come after a few semesters of college or some time off from traditional education. The most important factor for a successful year is the motivation to work, learn in a supportive environment.

What are the living arrangements?

You will live in a house with other Tzedek America participants in Los Angeles.  You will share a room with another participant of the same sex.  You will share the communal living spaces with everyone in your cohort including the House Guide. Rent will be covered by Tzedek America.