gap year in israel

June 17, 2021

Jerusalem Weekly

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Hello Parents and Students,
This week was fun and exciting, filled with great discussions and events.

On Sunday, we celebrated with Israel, the formation of a new unity government in Israel, after 4 rounds of elections!!!

This week, we also started new Chugim, one of which was “Get in the Driver’s Seat of Life” with Avi Engelhart. According to Avi, if you don’t know where you are, and you don’t know where you’re going, then you might be spinning your wheels. The idea behind this chug is that we want to take more control of how we perform in life. We began our sessions learning about the neurology behind our behavior. By practicing mindfulness and consciously using our critical thinking and awareness skills we can strengthen our ability to engage in life in ways which are more ideal and beneficial. In other words, we can respond to life and not react to it out of habit. Looking forward to continuing to flex our cognitive muscles and getting more out of life.
This week for FOI (Faces of Israel), the students viewed videos from “Sorry About the Question,” an interesting project. The videos include interviews that ask questions you always wanted to know, but were afraid to ask. One of the videos we watched included questions you always wanted to ask people with mental illness. At the end of the videos, we discussed why it is important to ask questions of those around us, and what we can learn about Israel and Israelis through the answers we heard.
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On Tuesday we attended Masa’s “Design Your Next Step” seminar, hosted by Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Our students met and talked with other Masa participants from all over the world, and participated in workshops about what it’s going to be like after the students return home from their gap year.
In the workshop “Dealing With Confusion: The Online Israel Conversation,” we learned how to contextualize the online Israel conversation, and how Israel is both understood and misunderstood outside of Israel. 

In “This Isn’t What I Signed Up For: Coping as a Jew With the New Reality on Campus,” we discussed what it means to be a Jew on college campuses in an era of rising anti-semitism.

In “Pay it Forward – Innovation and Entrepreneurship as an Engine for Impact in the Community,” we learned how to use the innovation and entrepreneurship skills we gained during our experience in Israel to create impact back in our home communities
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On Wednesday night, students expressed their inner artist by designing and painting their own clay pots. After they decided what their pot would look like, they added soil and plants. Almost every apartment has a new decorative addition which they now get to nurture.

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On Wednesday we learned a bit of psychology: in cross-cultural psychology we try to recognize differences and similarities between two cultures. To do this, we must become sensitive to the differences and similarities between people, groups, and societies.
In our first class, we began exploring the similarities and differences among the class members. We engaged in the hidden art of “shutting up and just listening” in an attempt to learn more about each other. Who would have thought that after being in Aardvark for a couple of months there’s still plenty we can learn about each other when we just “shut up and listen?”

Intrnship In the Spotlight – by Anna Levenberg
I have been interning at Keren Or, the Jerusalem Center for Children with Visual Impairments and Multiple Disabilities, during my time here on Aardvark. I have been working with children with disabilities for most of my life, and I am so thankful to be able to continue doing so here in Israel. At Keren Or, I spend my days with the youngest group of kids, who are 4-7 years old. Each one has taught me something new, and I am so grateful for that. I have loved going to work every day knowing I am going to leave with a smile on my face.”

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Next week, we will visit some of the communities on the Israeli side of the Gaza border to learn about what it’s like to live in that area. Avi is on call this weekend. Have a great weekend, Natali