Hi my name is Grace Diamond. I am from a village called Titchfield in the south coast of England, where there is no Jewish community. I chose Aardvark as a programme because it was pluralistic, the idea of being around so many different types of people excited me. The programme also had an amazing balance of volunteering, classes and my own free time to explore Israel.
I had so many incredible experiences in Israel, from my first Shabbat in Jerusalem, to laying on a beach in Tel Aviv, volunteering at a high school, learning Hebrew at Ulpan, meeting family I never knew I had, the list is truly endless. I did this all long side a group of people who became friends for a lifetime- my Aardvark family. I will always say that these moments no matter how big or small created incredible memories that I couldn’t be more grateful for.
To put simply why I did a gap year was because I was not ready for university; I had applied and deferred my entry. After Aardvark I was ready, which led me to become very involved in Jewish life on campus. I was, and continue to be, inspired by my eldest brother, Aurel, as he holds a deep passion for Jewish involvement and sharing his love for Israel. There is also Keith, who had a way of leading people with such vitality and excitement, which equally inspired me. A combination of the two led me to become Leeds Jewish Society President. This, to me, is a huge accomplishment and I can honestly say I have gained so many opportunities that stem from being an Aardvark graduate.
I was nervous at first, but no more than if anyone would be going to an unknown land. I did realise that after I arrived Israel wasn’t the unknown; it was another place to call home.
(Photo featuring Leilani Brennan because what is a gap year without acro-yoga and my flannel shirt?)