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Tel Aviv Weekly Email

Florentin Tel Aviv
Shalom Parents and Students!
Entering the last month of the semster, we had a very busy week, and there is still a lot more to come!  This week included paintball, a climb up Masada, floating in the Dead Sea, and we just finished a two-day overrnight trip up North together with the Year Program students from Jerusalem. 
Sunday started just like every week, with an apartment meeting / activity. This week every apartment was challenged to explore the theme of cults in the world. Here are some thoughts from Alice Goyer:
“This week for our apartment meeting, we watched a video about cults and learned what defines a cult from a sociological standpoint. We saw how something that starts out innocently can quickly turn into a dangerous situation without someone realizing they have been manipulated, as was the case in Jonestown. We discussed the powers of charismatic authority and peer pressure. We were then asked to compared this all to religion.
As someone who is not at all religious, I often have trouble seeing the appeal of congregating over prayer and following a religious leader. When asked, it was easy to draw parallels between cults and religions. At its extremes, religion requires a strict obedience to rules, perhaps a certain dress code, strict following of a leader and to an extent, isolation from the outside world. However, there is a clear difference in that religion was not created for harm or malicious intent. Religion helps people find answers and meaning in life. Cults may start out this way, but often end differently.
Being in Israel has taught me that there truly is no right way to be Jewish or practice religion. You can be culturally Jewish and not religious. You can not eat bread for Pesach, but still eat shellfish. I think what makes religion different from cults is understanding that religion is a very personal matter and there should be no forceful following of religion. If one chooses to be ultra religious, that is their choice. If someone wants to be secular that is also their choice. The importance is in accepting and not forcing”
“Fighting back the urge to close my eyes and go back to sleep, I somehow managed to sit up from bed. It was 3:00 in the morning, and Aardvark was taking us to see the sunrise at Masada for our Tuesday tiyul. After a 2.5 hour bus ride full of less than ideal sleep, we finally made it there. Walking up the back of the mountain was incredible, but what was even more meaningful to me was spontaneously leading my group in yoga at the top while the sun rose behind us. Yoga has always had a special place in my heart. The first time I ever led a group was when I led services at NFTY, my Jewish youth group from home, and since coming to Tel Aviv, I’ve been going to weekly yoga classes on the beach. I think it’s the perfect way to ground yourself and take a moment to appreciate your surroundings, so having the opportunity to share my passion for yoga against the backdrop of Masada was an incredibly meaningful experience. Even more exciting – I did a headstand next to my amazing madrich, the one and only Shai T”
-Danya Dubrow Compaine
Monday night's Paint ball activity
Monday night’s Paint ball activity
Getting ready to shoot
Getting ready to shoot
surfing in Tel Aviv Beach
Last Friday, we went surfing in Tel Aviv Beach, together with students from the Aardvark Jerusalem community. This is what Carly Shindler shared:

“Surfing is much harder than it looks! After years of dance, I really thought I would be able to master the art of balancing on a surfboard. Needless to say, I didn’t come anywhere close! It was so fun getting up on a Friday morning to try out a new activity, though. I had a great time even though I don’t think I really surfed at all. I mostly just pretended that I knew what was happening. I chilled at the beach for the rest of the day and I can say with certainty that it was one of my favorite Aardvark activities!”

surfing in Tel Aviv Beach Fun in the sun
Fun in the sun
surfing in Tel Aviv Beach Catching waves
Catching waves
Upper Galilee
Thursday we drove up to the Upper Galilee together with the Jerusalem community. The beautiful weather and good energy from everybody made for a perfect combination. We had lunch by a beautiful spring, and took a refreshing dip in the water. The hike the first day took 4.5 hours – we were very proud of our students for giving it their all.

After a nice shower and dinner we gathered together for an incredible Talent Show. The students’ acts varied from singing to dancing, stand up comedy, and even out-of-water synchronized swimming.

On Friday, we visited a Druze village called Hurfeish. There we met one of the local residents that taught us about the Druze religion and life in Israel. We learned that Israeli Druze are drafted to the army and consider themselves to be fully Israeli. They are very proud of their IDF service and support of the country. We had the chance to experience some Druze hospitality, including their delicious tea and food.

Upper Galilee
Upper Galilee


Aardvark Israel Tel Aviv:
39 Levinsky Street, 2nd Floor
Tel Aviv 6610910
Aardvark Israel Jerusalem:
3 Ezrat Yisrael Street
Jerusalem 9462503

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