If you are considering a gap year in Israel but are not sure how best to prepare for it, then one thing that you can do with minimum effort is watch some fantastic Israeli television shows. Over the last few years a number of Israeli shows, such as Homeland, Traffic Light and In Treatment, have been remade in America, but thanks to services such as Netflix there is no reason why you can’t watch the originals (even if you need some help from subtitles).
If you are looking for somewhere to get started you could watch ‘When Heroes Fly’. It tells the story of a group of friends who fought together in the Second Lebanon War and years after their service reunite to try to rescue a woman called Yaeli from a cult in Colombia. The series won Best International Series at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival and it is sure to keep you gripped from beginning to end.
Those who are curious about the world of the Shin Bit bet will love the series ‘Fauda’. It tells the story of a group of agents chasing West Bank terror operatives and gives viewers an insight into one of the lesser-known aspects of the Israeli-Palestine conflict. The series features many of Israel’s best-known actors, and it also gives you the chance to familiarise yourself with some Arabic before arriving in Israel for your gap year.
Whether you are spending time in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, you will definitely come across the ultra-orthodox section of society. To prepare you for this you could watch ‘Stisel’, which focuses on the artist misfit son of a prominent ultra-orthodox family and his sister who is in a difficult marriage and raising six children. It will give you an insight into the world of the ultra-orthodox in Israel and the struggles they face.
For something a little more light hearted you could turn to ‘Avoda Aravit’. The title is an Israeli expression for a job that is done poorly, and this comedy is about a prominent Arab family that moves to a largely Jewish neighbourhood in Jerusalem and the struggles they have fitting in while maintaining their identity. The show has been on air for many years now and has won numerous awards from the Israeli Television Academy.
While you probably won’t spend much time with the ultra-orthodox on your gap year, you will certainly spend plenty of time with the modern orthodox. To prepare for this you could watch ‘Srugim’, a series about friendships and the search for love in the modern orthodox community in Jerusalem. The series follows a group of best friends and contains many hilarious moments.
If you have ever wondered what it is like to work for the Mossad then start watching ‘Mossad 101’. It is a fictional story about the recruitment and training of Mossad agents that shines a light on the human side of the highly respected agency.
These are just a few of the many fantastic Israeli television shows that you can watch in advance of your gap year. They give you a true insight into different aspects of Israeli society and character, and are a great way to prepare for your trip with the absolute minimum of effort.