gap year in israel

Available for 2024-2025


Aardvark Israel
Culinary Track

A hands-on culinary experience in Israel
  • Get on-the-ground training for a career in culinary arts and hospitality
  • Live your dream year in Israel
  • Make a social impact on Israeli society

Your Culinary career
starts here

Take time to invest in yourself. In this program, you will acquire practical expertise in your chosen field, develop your networking skills, and travel the country with like-minded people from all over the world.

In collaboration with Teamim, a culinary college, dedicated to educating the next generation of chefs in Israel, participants in the Aardvark Israel Culinary Track will become prepared to be a part of the thriving gastronomic scene in Israel.

Designed for those
who love to cook

Aardvark Israel Culinary Track is the ideal program for high school graduates looking to develop a strong foundation in culinary arts while also enjoying an immersive, educational experience in Israel.

Participants will enjoy the benefits of a selective group of “Foodies” (like-minded peers) while also being a part of the larger, diverse community of students participating in all of Aardvark Israel’s other existing programs.
  • In-Person, comprehensive cooking course.
  • State of the art facilities in one of Israel’s most established cooking colleges.
  • Certified and recognised course
  • Internships at top restaurants and hotels
  • Networking with top international professionals
  • Hebrew learning and option to earn university credits
  • Weekly field trips throughout the country
  • Local living – explore Israel and its diverse culture

Program Overview

Cooking Course: Students start the year by being immersed in a hands-on cooking course where they will gain the skills needed to kickstart a career in the culinary and hospitality world. Participants will start with the basics and learn to become advanced chefs with experience in every area of the culinary field, from restaurant preparation, to pastry chef, to private chef. Classes will take place in a state of the art kitchen in Jerusalem and include some field trips to markets and professional, working kitchens, while applying industry best practices in a collaborative environment.

Internships: Students intern alongside Israelis at leading restaurants and hotels in Tel Aviv during their second semester

Culinary Tours/ Experiences: Explore the Israeli culinary scene from markets to restaurants with an emphasis on local, middle-eastern food.

  • Weekly field trips around Israel
  • Option to earn university credits in Hebrew and other electives
  • Extracurricular activities and more!

Daily Life on our Culinary Track

Living in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, participants will be able to take full advantage of the cultural enrichment, night life, and convenience of the most popular cities in Israel for today’s young adults. Participants will be immersed into Israeli society, meeting their Israeli neighbors, shopping for groceries in the local shops, and navigating on public transportation, giving them the chance to truly “live like a local.”
  • Jerusalem students live downtown next to Machane Yehuda, the famous outdoor market
  • Tel Aviv students live in the trendy Florentine neighborhood surrounded by young Israelis

Our modern, comfortable apartments are shared only by participants in the program. All the apartments are fully furnished and equipped with kitchen appliances and utensils, and of course WiFi. With the guidance of a qualified counselor, participants will learn to cook, clean, budget, do laundry, and live together with roommates. Understanding that this will be the first time most of the students are living on their own, staff will work with the participants in each apartment to ensure a positive group dynamic and the health and welfare of the participants. Throughout the program, the counselors hold weekly apartment meetings to facilitate and solve any issues which may arise. They will also pay friendly, regular visits to the apartments. As the year progresses, the participants will be encouraged to be more independent in their problem-solving in order to foster growth and maturity.
Once a week, students will participate in an immersive experience to explore the culinary scene in Israel. Israel has a burgeoning reputation for its culinary scene and we will show you why, by taking you to meet chefs who have enhanced that reputation, markets bursting with local food and produce and also allow you to volunteer your skills in different food related NGOs. These tours will also allow you to network with some of the leaders and innovators in the culinary scene and donate some of your time and expertise to the Israeli people.

Take the skills and knowledge you gained during your culinary course in the first semester and dive head-first into the Israeli hospitality ecosystem. During the Spring Semester in Tel Aviv, students will be interning in a variety of restaurants and hotels, gaining hands-on experience.

  • Boost your resume with your work experience in the culinary field
  • Use your newly-gained culinary skills in a real and challenging environment
  • Network with Israeli chefs and restaurateurs
  • Experience working in an professional kitchen in Israel

You will be surrounded by opportunities to learn throughout your time in Israel. The educational component of the program is woven into exciting field trips, dynamic guest speakers, and stimulating activities. In addition, students will participate in a Hebrew Ulpan. Whether you are a beginner or quite advanced, you will expand your vocabulary and become more comfortable in a Hebrew-speaking environment. Students may also enroll in other academic courses covering a range of Jewish and Zionist topics. Extracurricular activities and workshops are also available to students, such as yoga, spoken Arabic, and Jewish art.

Up to a year of college credit is also available for successful completion of academic courses through our partnership with Portland State University.

The following are examples of the academic courses typically offered on Aardvark Israel. Please note, minimum enrollment is required for a class to open and class offerings vary between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

  • Hebrew
  • History of Zionism and Israeli Society
  • Women in the Zionist Movement
  • Eternal Jerusalem – The Religions of the Holy Land
  • Middle East Politics: A Microcosms
  • Introduction to Service Learning
  • The Art of Reading and Writing
  • Midrash and Fantasy – Introduction to Midrash
  • The Arab Israeli Conflict
  • Jewish Medical Ethics
  • Contemporary Israeli Politics
  • Modern Israel Geography of the Land of Israel
  • Gender and Judaism
Every Tuesday, students participate in educational field trips – exploring off the beaten path sites around Israel. From nature reserves, to historical sites, from museums, to fascinating communities, each week holds something new. Examples of trips include: Hevron, Graffiti Tour of Tel Aviv, Herodian (King Herod’s Fortress), Ein Mabua Natural Spring, the Temple Mount, Gaza Border Communities, overnight trips to Galil, Golan, Negev, and the Judean Desert, and many more!
Through evening activities, participants will have both social and educational opportunities to further enhance their experience. Options will include sports, social and cultural events, guest speakers, and leadership development activities. With an evening lesson of krav maga, a Moroccan Jewish cooking workshop, poyke on the beach, rock climbing, thINK (“I Never Knew” activity with our Jewish Life Coordinator), and more, students will explore the many faces of Israel and its society.

Students will also be able to take full advantage of their free time to visit friends and family, enjoy the local nightlife, travel around Israel, or enjoy relaxing time in their apartment with their roommates.

Your Culinary Course

The goals of the course will be to:
  • Acquire extensive knowledge in the art of cooking
  • Prepare professionals for the catering and restaurant industry
  • Understand the industry from all angles
  • Practical cooking course combined with professional tours
The different aspects of the course include:
  • Understanding the workspace and the different kitchen appliances
  • Hygiene and Kashrut
  • Soups, salads and starters
  • Main courses
  • Side Dishes
  • Spices, garnishes and seasonings
  • Desserts
  • Breads
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Building a menu and food presentation, including budgeting

Locations - Tel Aviv and Jerusalem

Israel’s ever-growing metropolis, Tel Aviv, is beautifully set on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and known by the locals as the city that never sleeps. An anomaly in the Middle East, Tel Aviv is a cosmopolitan, open-minded, vibrant city that is also filled with rich history and diverse traditions from all over the world. As the center of the “Start-Up Nation,” the city boasts much more than its popular beaches. With an exciting nightlife and expansive cultural attractions, students will love living in this modern and diverse city.
The geographic and spiritual center of the Jewish people for over 3,000 years, Jerusalem today is an advanced, dynamic city. Truly one of a kind, the city weaves together past and present, history and culture, excitement and spirituality. At the center of the city, the Machane Yehuda Market brings together the city’s diverse population and intertwines food, shopping, bars and restaurants. With a vibrant nightlife and transformational atmosphere on Shabbat, living in this unique and exciting city will be a wonderful experience for students.
Teamim - culinary college

The idea behind the Teamim College is the combination of a fun and practical cooking experience together with uncompromising professionalism.

The college offers a wide variety of cooking classes, workshops, culinary trips and training days for teams of employees, various companies and the private sector.
“Teamim” located in Machane Yehuda in Jerusalem, was founded by veteran chef Yuval Attias, who is an award winning chef, renowned all over the world.

The college offers a wide variety of cooking classes, intended for those interested in learning cooking and confectionery both at the professional level and integration into the industry, and at the experiential level.

The chefs who work for “Teamim” are carefully selected and all are professional, courteous and have proven experience in the culinary industry. They are some of Israel’s best lecturers, chefs and pastry chefs and they come with a warm attitude and a strong desire to promote a new generation of first-class chefs.

International Add-Ons

Gain a deep understanding of diverse cultures and the global Jewish community through focused international trips throughout the year. Culinary students can do ONE International Trip per semester (not including Nepal, which is not available to them). Students can participate in our Plus program and work in an American Jewish Summer camp in June-August.

Additional Program Details:

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