Hi, my name is Ashley Amaltov. I grew up in Fort Lee, NJ and attended a Jewish high school in Manhattan, NY. I decided to take a gap year after finally visiting Israel for the first time this past May. I instantly fell in love as my brother showed me all Israel has to offer and I knew I had to come back and spend more time here. I chose not to go to a seminary like many of the girls in my school system because I didn’t feel like that suited me. I didn’t want to pretend to be something that I’m not. I wanted to be on a program that I could learn and grow at my own pace and comfort levels and define for myself who I want to be as a person and what Judaism means to me. I am currently living in Jerusalem and it has been truly great so far. I love the community we live in and how convenient it is to get to all the best parts of Jerusalem, whether it be the Old City, Machane Yehuda Market (“The Shuk”), Ben Yehudah Street, or even the nightlife where I find all my friends from home who are spending their years studying in yeshivas and seminaries. I partake in the Selah track so in the mornings of my first semester I have been studying different areas of Judaism. I particularly like how in Selah I can study at my own pace and choose to focus on specific texts and lessons that I can apply to my everyday life. I look forward to interning in whatever field that I choose as I continue into my second semester in Tel Aviv. After my morning Selah, I take classes such as Ulpan (Hebrew), Reading & Writing, Israeli Politics, Eternal Jerusalem (history), and Arab-Israeli conflict. I am so happy to take the advantage of such a great opportunity to earn college credit while taking a gap year because it means I am in no way falling behind. In the evenings I enjoy cooking with my roommates and hanging out with everybody in our apartments as well as going out. My favorite time of the week would have to be our Tuesday Tiyulim where we go on a different trip with our group every week. I especially like the once-a-month overnight trips that are joint with the students in Tel Aviv. I also have shabbatons once a month thanks to the Selah track. So far this year has been amazing and I can’t believe it’s already November. I want to hold on to this experience for as long as I possibly can.