Your questions about the DFI, answered. If you have additional questions about the Fellowship, please reach out to dfi@dorot.org



So is this a Fellowship or is it more like a gap year program?

One of the unique features of the DFI is that it is a carefully balanced combination of both of these things. On the one hand, Fellows are provided with a stipend for self-curated and directed learning, which enables them to develop themselves, their leadership abilities, and their knowledge of Israel and Judaism. At the same time, the DFI places a high value on the DFI Learning Community in which Fellows share, learn and grow with each other. We value all aspects of the DFI Fellowship Program equally. Successful candidates exhibit the maturity and life experience to be able to make the best use of these aspects of the Fellowship to refine, rather than construct, their individual identity.

Will I be given permission to study in some of the famous Yeshivot in Jerusalem or Bnei Brak?

Assuming that you have determined with the DFI Educators that this piece of Jewish learning is important and relevant to your Personal Learning Program, in order for it to be approved it has to fit the following criteria: it has to take place in an institution that provides equal access for women to all texts (or would provide that access theoretically, even if it happens to be a single sex institution); it is determined by the DFI to be a non-coercive Yeshiva; and, it is situated geographically within the Sovereign State of Israel. If the Yeshiva in question does not fit these criteria, you may choose to study there in your free time and at your own expense.

Why does the DFI fly off to Budapest during the year?

Placing ourselves in Budapest as North American Jews provides us with a mirror through which we can more deeply explore who we are, to learn about others, and to have new encounters. In Budapest, we confront the broad historical narrative which both precedes and coincides with the stories of North American Jewry and Israel. We meet a contemporary Jewish community which is simultaneously thriving and threatened. Importantly, we are invited to confront specifically the many assumptions and variables that define our unique experience and privilege as North American Jews. We also place ourselves in contemporary Jewish Europe and celebrate and struggle with all that conveys.

I have a work commitment through to the end of August. Is it okay to arrive in Israel a little bit late?

No. We plan the Fellowship so that all elements of the program are vital and we expect full participation at all times.

If I do not reside in the US or am not a citizen of the US am I eligible?

As the purpose of the Dorot Fellowship relates to the American Jewish landscape, candidates who do not intend to reside in North America are not eligible. Non-American/Non-Canadian citizens may be eligible for the DFI — with prior approval of the DFI Director. Candidates must be/have been residents of the U.S., having graduated from an American high school and/or an American college/university, and must intend to reside permanently in the U.S. Non-American/Non-Canadian citizens interested in receiving approval for applying should contact dfi@dorot.org.

What are the age requirements for the Fellowship?

The DFI is open to American/Canadian Jews between the ages of 22-30. (To be eligible, one must be 22, but not yet 31 prior to August 1 of the Fellowship year.) Successful candidates exhibit the maturity and life experience to be able to make the best use of the Fellowship to refine, rather than construct, their individual identity.

Zionist, Anti-Zionist, and Everything In Between

I consider myself a Zionist. Is this program for me? I consider myself an anti-Zionist, is this program for me?

Yes, we welcome and seek to include a broad spectrum of political opinions and identities in each DFI cohort. Fundamentally, we are committed to national self-determination for both Jews and Palestinians, however this might be accomplished. If you believe that either Jews or Palestinians are uniquely undeserving of statehood, this program is likely not for you.

Religious, Secular, All-of-the-Above, None-of-the-Above

I am religious. Is this program for me?

Absolutely. Our DFI Community includes Fellows from across the religious spectrum. As a program, we are shomer Shabbat (observing the commandments of Shabbat). At no point will an observant Fellow be required to compromise their halachic commitment.

The Kashrut policy of the DFI is that at all official events we will provide food which is under the Kashrut supervision of the local municipal rabbinical authority or the State Rabbinical authority. On the very rare occasions that this is impossible (something which has occurred, for example, when visiting a Muslim community or when the community visits Budapest), we will always inform Fellows well in advance so that they can make suitable arrangements to cater for their needs. We have a similar approach to all personal dietary needs (vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, etc).

I am a Secular Jew. Is this program for me?

Absolutely. Our DFI Community includes Fellows from across the religious spectrum, including those who are secular and anti-religious. We believe that there is value in the wisdom tradition of the Jewish people and that knowledge is power (and hence, Jewish knowledge is power in Jewish contexts). Therefore, for example, Fellows are required to learn traditional Jewish texts. Furthermore, Fellows are urged to remain in Israel during all Jewish and Israeli holidays, and may observe or not observe holidays however they choose.

I am not Jewish. Am I eligible?

To be eligible for the DFI, one must be Jewish prior to the start of the program year in August, either via parental descent or conversion.

When the group spends Shabbat together what regarding prayer? Is Shabbat kept fully?

The planning of this weekend is in the hands of the Fellows and, again, the diversity of the community is both a challenge and a gift. Institutionally, we expect that there will be the opportunity for everyone, in public spaces, to be able to fully observe a traditional Shabbat, should they so choose. There may well be a variety of group activities, but these won’t include travel or the use of electricity. There are likely to be prayers, for those who choose to participate in them; however, the nature of how they are conducted will be part of the planning process for the group. In private spaces such as bedrooms or in areas not occupied by the group, there is no expectation of how people will choose to enjoy their Shabbat.


I am a Jew of Color. Is this program for me?

Absolutely. The DFI celebrates the rich diversity of the Jewish community, in the U.S., in Israel, and around the world. In recent years, our Staff has worked with a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Consultant to improve the experience that Jews of Color (JOCs) have during the DFI and we wholeheartedly welcome JOCs as we wish to more fully represent the rich spectrum of Jewish experience in the U.S.

I am an LGBTQ+ Jew. Is this program for me?

Absolutely. The DFI affirms and welcomes people from all backgrounds, including but not limited to a wide variety of sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions.

I am not a typical learner. Is this program for me?

Absolutely. “This is not university!” is among our (many) taglines, in part, because we value the effectiveness of experiential education for adult learners. We work hard to provide differentiated learning opportunities among Fellows and to meet the learning needs of each throughout the year.

I have limited mobility. Is this program for me?

Absolutely. The DFI strives to provide the richest possible experience for every Fellow regardless of whatever challenges they may face (including those that are visible and those that are not). This requires trust, honest and open communication.

As the DFI is committed to social change, are you only looking for full-time activists to be part of the cohort of Fellows?

The DFI community has proudly welcomed doctors, artists, journalists, lawyers, academics, activists, and many others. A person’s professional path is not a deciding factor in their acceptance to the Fellowship. What is important to us is a recognizable track record and commitment and ability to lead in matters regarding reform, innovation and social change.


What are the Learning and Living Stipend amounts?

The Fellowship award includes up to $7,000 toward the cost of one’s Personal Learning Program and a $29,500 Living Stipend.

The Living Stipend ($29,500) is designed to cover the cost of travel to Israel (in the midst of the August Orientation) and from Israel (returning to North America at the end of the year) and all typical living expenses. These amounts are determined by the Dorot Foundation and are based on transportation costs and estimated living expenses. The Foundation does not augment this amount for Fellows with families.

Living Stipends and Learning Stipends are paid directly to Fellows in installments throughout the year. To our knowledge, the Living Stipend is taxable, but Fellows are encouraged to consult a tax advisor for details. The Foundation does not withhold taxes from Fellowship payments.

All expenditures from the Learning Stipend must be pre-approved and properly documented, in accordance with the Fellowship Contract (provided to Fellows upon acceptance to the program).

Food and transportation during all group convenings (Community Days, Seminars, Retreats, etc.) are covered by the Foundation. If you have any concerns about financial barriers to your potential participation, please contact dfi@dorot.org.

Do I need to carry Israeli health insurance?

Dorot Fellows are required to carry health insurance. Please note that pre-existing medical conditions are often not included in coverage by Israeli health insurance companies. As it is necessary for Fellows to be sufficiently covered, it may be necessary for those with pre-existing medical conditions to retain North America-based health insurance coverage.

What is the DFI’s travel policy?

Within Israel
As immersion in Israeli society is a primary goal of the Fellowship, Fellows are expected to spend the full year in Israel. Trips throughout Israel are encouraged.

Trips must not interfere with DFI seminars or community study programs (in whole or in part). Fellows are urged to remain in Israel for all Jewish holidays.

Outside of Israel
Fellows may leave Israel for up to 21 days during the Fellowship Period, and are required to provide DFI Educators with advanced written notice of all time that will be spent outside of Israel during the Fellowship Period.

Travel to nations with whom the United States does not have diplomatic relations, and those listed by the U.S. State Department as State sponsors of terror, is not permitted.

Palestinian-Administered Territories
The DFI will always take as its first consideration the personal safety and security of the Fellows. With clear U.S. State Department and Israeli Security Services directives as our guide, we maintain a policy which is not based on our political views regarding The Palestinian Territories, but rather one which is designed to ensure the general well-being of the members of our community. A Fellow who is “stranded” for whatever reason in a Palestinian town in the West Bank cannot be physically accessed by our Israeli staff members or, should it become necessary, by the Israeli Security Services. Although Fellows are welcome to study and understand the place of the Palestinians in the regional equation, our first concern will be our Israeli staff’s accessibility to our Fellows at all times.

Travel to nations with whom the United States does not have diplomatic relations, and those listed by the U.S. State Department as terrorist nations, is not permitted. Travel to the Gaza Strip is also not permitted.

We urge Fellows, in the strongest terms possible, not to travel to Area A of the West Bank. If Fellows choose to travel to Area A, against the advice of the Dorot Fellowship in Israel and the Israeli and American Governments — they will do so at their own risk.

Any travel to Area A will be counted against the 21 days allotted for travel outside of Israel and therefore cannot be paid for with the Learning Stipend.

A Dorot Fellow, with the advance written approval of DFI Staff, may travel to Areas B and C of the West Bank to participate in periodic and temporary experiences relevant to the Israel Learning component of the Personal Learning Program, in which event such approved travel will not count against the 21 days allotted for travel outside of Israel (and such travel may be paid for with the Learning Stipend).

A Dorot Fellow may not have regular or standing commitments to learn or volunteer in Areas B or C of the West Bank. Failure to comply with DFI Travel Policies may forfeit one’s status as a Fellow.

What are the living arrangements for the DFI?

Fellows may live anywhere within the Sovereign State of Israel, though all Fellows must be able to attend all DFI Weekly Seminars, which are typically in the center of the country (Jerusalem and Tel Aviv).

Fellows are expected to make their own living arrangements in Israel and are urged to live with Israelis. Fellows begin the Program Year with a series of in-person retreats, in the U.S. and in Israel. Upon arriving in Israel, Fellows will be given accommodations for a brief period during which they must arrange their permanent living situation.

Detailed information about how to identify living arrangements are provided to Fellows upon their acceptance to the program.

What are the dates for the DFI?

The projected 2024-25 program dates are Monday, August 5, 2024 – Thursday, June 5, 2025 (subject to change).

Upon acceptance to the program, Fellows receive a detailed schedule as well as helpful information about living in Israel.