gap year in israel

Hey! My name is Ben Lefkowitz and I’m from Boston, MA. I heard about Aardvark when I was on Alexander Muss High School in Israel at a gap year fair they held. Instantly I fell in love with the freedom of the program to truly live in both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and the internships I could do.

So far on Aardvark I have gotten opportunities to learn about the I.D.F. In Marva, do research for the organization NGO Monitor, travel all over Israel, and even go bowling with great friends. Last semester I participated in the Israeli army program called Marva. It was an eight week intensive basic training program where I learned everything from the Israeli chain of command to how to shoot an M-16. While it was intense and difficult much of the time, I got I travel all over Israel in uniform and represent the I.D.F. wherever I went.

Even though Marva was though a lot of the time, I knew I always had my friends back in Florentine and Katamon supporting me. The friends that I’ve made on Aardvark are people that have supported me through thick and thin. Whether it’s my incredible roommates both this and first semester, or the incredible madrichim and coordinators that will always go the extra mile for us, I know I have friends that I will get to keep the rest of my life. With my friends and madrichim I have had the privilege to explore completely new cities beyond the capacity of a tourist.

We also get the opportunity to travel all over Israel with Aardvark. One of my favorite trips that we went on was our overnight trip to Ein Gedi and a kibbutz there. Over those two days we got to swim in the Dead Sea, go on some of the most beautiful hikes in the desert and meet all the new kids from all over the world that joined us for second semester!

This semester I’m also working at a new internship called NGO Monitor. Through them I have been able to conduct incredible research into organizations that pose an anti-Israel and often anti-Semitic bias. Not only are they giving me incredible researching opportunities, but they are also giving me incredible photography opportunities as well (I stand by my belief that is the best website on the World Wide Web). Through the combination of working for NGO and living in Jerusalem I am getting to explore my passions of politics and photography that I never thought imaginable. I know that as the year goes on I’ll only get more incredible opportunities to experience Israel and I’m excited to see what comes next!