gap year in israel

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My name is Tamir Cohen. I am from Hillside, New Jersey. I am one of the few Aardvark students who has been through some college already. My decision to come to Israel has been one of the best decisions of my life.

Coming from an orthodox background, I have always had a strong love of Israel, but I got a little lost down the line growing up. I went to a Yeshiva day school until 8th grade; I started to question religion and God in 7th grade. I was then pulled out of a Jewish school for high school; I went to a magnet high school. The secular education was amazing, but I had no Judaic classes at all.

After starting college last year, I met my Rabbi, Rabbi Yaakov Greenberg. At first I blew him off, but then I went to shabbat dinner at his house. Shabbat dinner at Rabbi Greenberg’s house is an amazing experience; he puts the fun back in Shabbat. I went every shabbat after that, and will continue to go when I return home.

After the school year ended, Rabbi Greenberg joined me and a few of my friends from Monmouth University on a Birthright trip. This was ten of the most amazing days of my life; I could not have asked for a better group.

Ten days after Birthright ended, I started here at Aardvark and it has been a wonderful experience so far. Three months in and I couldn’t be happier, we have wonderful classes, wonderful counselors, and a great group of people with a nice sense of community.

One special thing about Aardvark is that we all have different internships. I volunteer with this nice woman named Naomi who created a positive psychology board game and workshop. I was given the task of correcting the grammar of the english translation. This Internship has been great for me because if you ask anyone I know, they’ll tell you I am a grammar nazi.

Coming to Israel has been the best decision I could have made. I am having the chances of a lifetime; to see the country of my people, improve my hebrew, meet new people, and limitless other things. I highly recommend Aardvark to anyone considering taking a gap year or studying abroad, and I am happy to say that I will be staying another semester and continuing to the holiest place on earth, Jerusalem.