Hi! My name is Sam Lipschitz and I’m from Tenafly, New Jersey. I’m in Tel Aviv for the first semester of Aardvark, and so far I’m loving it!
I went to a Jewish high school, but I wouldn’t say I know Hebrew very well. One of the main goals I have for this semester is to get better at speaking Hebrew through the Ulpan we have twice a week. I’m only in Level 2 (out of 6) in Ulpan, but I’m slowly becoming more fluent!
The main reasons that I chose Aardvark over other gap year programs is the variety of internships we can choose from and the option to do just one semester. After this semester, I’m planning on hiking the Israel Trail.
I’m interning at Fokoya, a software company that makes investing games for smartphones. As of now, they have released Blockium, an app where players compete with each other in trading tournaments for cryptocurrencies, foreign exchange, and stocks. Since the internship started, I’ve been writing articles for them and reaching out to cryptocurrency companies to see if they would like to partner with Fokoya. I’ve been involved in cryptocurrencies for a couple of years, so Fokoya is the perfect internship for me!
These first couple of weeks of the program have been filled with holidays, and I’ve been using some of that extra free time to travel. The coolest place I’ve been to so far is Tekoa. Staying there for Shabbat with my Rabbi/teacher of my Jewish Medical Ethics class was a new experience as I’ve never been to the West Bank before. We went to a Carlebach shul, and the singing and dancing was really fun.
My roommates and I went to the Great Synagogue of Tel Aviv for Yom Kippur, and I have never before been to a service like it. I normally don’t enjoy choirs at shul because they make the service drag on, but the choir at the Great Synagogue was actually really enjoyable. I also went to Mincha on Yom Kippur for the first time.
One of my favorite parts of Aardvark is Parsha and Pizza. Every Tuesday after the Tiyul, we have the option to learn about the weekly parsha and eat pizza. It’s a really laid back atmosphere, but we learn a lot and have fun.
Overall, I’m having a great time in Israel with Aardvark. From traveling, to my internship, to the ridiculous amount of shawarma I’ve eaten, I’m really glad I chose to be part of Aardvark.