My name is Jonah Rosenblatt and I am from Sharon, MA. I graduated from Gann Academy in Waltham, MA this past June, and after my time at Aardvark I will be studying at Tulane University in New Orleans, LA. I have been in Israel for a little over a month and my experience so far has been beyond incredible. From the moment I arrived in Tel Aviv I knew that I was going to have a blast, but I could have never predicted how fast I would connect with the city. Before arriving I had zero knowledge about the Florentine neighborhood, but now I am in love with it. Whether it’s going to get breakfast at Tony and Esther’s, or getting gelato at Anita’s, every experience I have in Florentine is beyond special. Aardvark could not have chosen better location for its apartments.
One surprise that I have had on the program so far was how independent it was. At first this was a real struggle for me, however I now realize that learning how to be independent was a really important skill to learn before I go off to college. Despite the program being very independent, we have great madrichim and other Aardvark staff members that guide us along and are there to help us if we need it.
Another amazing opportunity I have had on this program was the opportunity to have the time in my day to volunteer at an organization that I believe in. The Last time I was in Israel on Alexander Muss, I remember we had a day trip to South Tel Aviv, and I was exposed to for the first time the amount of people in Israel that are in need. That is why this time around while I am in Israel I am devoting my volunteer time to work at The Schoolhouse, which is an Education center for refugees, asylum seekers, and marginalized migrants in Israel. I was extremely lucky to find a place that gives people who need it a chance to improve their quality of life through education because I believe that education is one of the most useful tools on earth. At The Schoolhouse I help them with a bunch of different tasks.
Additionally, it has been so cool meeting so many new people from all over and with very different Jewish identities than my own. So far I have made so many new friends and it is only the first month so I am excited to see even more friendships pop up. I also cannot write about Aardvark and not mention “Parsha and Pizza.” “Parsha and Pizza” is an event every Tuesday night where Rabbi Marc and a group of students talk about the week’s parsha and eat pizza. It is so awesome because it combines two things I love to talk about, the Torah and pizza!
I chose aardvark because I had a friend that had previously done the program, and I needed something to do before I went to college. I am so happy I listened to that friend because I am having so much fun and I have already learned so much about myself and Israel.