(idea submitted by Marla L.)
One of the demographic characteristics of the Jewish Young Adult community is a general trend toward being financially stable, not necessarily from their own hard work or volition. This offers the JYA ample opportunities to exercise their freedom of choice and explore various outlets and facets. Over recent decades JYAs have taken this freedom to heart, sometimes to deleterious extremes, and what has emerged is a tendency to explore this freedom by taking a year off.
JYAs will pursue a bevy of possibilities when taking a year off. Some will come to Israel to find themselves on a number of various year long trips. Some will look to volunteer for a year for institutions like Teach for American, even if they have to pay for it. Some, particularly Israeli JYAs, will disappear into year-long drug-filled hazes in South America, India, or Thailand. Still others will pursue academic goals, like Seattle based JYA “Dave”, who spent a year studying Chinese Medicine in Sydney.
There are plenty of reasons why JYAs take a year off, but one unifying theory is that they simply can. Whereas the generation of Jewish Adults had a more limited scope of possibilities (doctor, banker, or lawyer preferable, maybe a professor even), JYAs of today have too many options at their beck and call, and the means to go explore them. So they do.
It is also important to note at in recent years it has also become socially “acceptable” for JYAs to take a year off well into their early to mid thirties. It has also become “acceptable” to take multiple trips. As an example, Israeli JYA “Oren” took a trip to Central America for nearly 10 months at the age of 32. When asked why he was taking the trip, “Oren” answered matter-of-factly “I’ve already been to India when I was 25”.