gap year in israel

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Shalom Parents! I’m very glad to tell inform you that the orientation week is over… We had so much going on with so many highlights worth mentioning that I don’t know where to start! Our week began on Monday. Throughout the day the semester students came in groups, some from the airport and some were already in Israel. We did our check-in and took them to eat Falafel! Then at around 4:00pm the students from Jerusalem arrived with their luggage. It took us a while to settle everyone into their new apartments and afterwards the Madrichim (counselors) introduced themselves to their students. counselors and students at dinnerAfter the introductions the counselors took their students to a restaurant for dinner. The students sat and relaxed after the long day and got to know one other. Then the group met at the Moadon (our big room where we do some of our big activities) for the final event of the day – Know Your Staff It is worth mentioning that Shirli’s students won the match! On Tuesday we thought that instead of buying breakfast for the students it would be much better to do a food tour in the Levinski Market! The tour combined stories from the market together with the shops and a lot of tasting of the best food available. After the tour the students met in the Moadon for a presentation called “Basic How To’s in Tel Aviv” which contained all of the important information that a student needs to know for life in Tel Aviv Afterwards there was a budgeting session which was followed by “Cooking your First lunch Together in Tel Aviv” (according to the counselor Idan, the Marcolet 4 apartment made an amazing tomato pasta). The staff then launched “The Scavenger Hunt” in the evening; a race between the apartments through the neighborhood. At every station they were given a mission that had to be completed in order to move on to the next station. The first apartment to finish was Herzel 1: Staci Pinkowitz, Arden Poller, Abby Seidel, Shira Goldsmith and Danielle Williams. gap year programOn Wednesday morning, we left Tel Aviv for a Tiyul (Trip) to the Judean Desert. The first hike was called “Metzukei Dragot” (Darajah Cliff) and on it we enjoyed an outstanding view of the desert before finishing the hike with rappelling! After that we went to Kibbutz Kalia and the students and I had a great conversation. In the evening the staff started the traditional contest between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv – “Minute To Win It.” In each round a short video was shown presenting a task that needed to be completed in the one-minute time slot The students were so into it, I’ve never seen anything like it during my time with Aardvark! There was all sorts of cheering, and yelling. The staff prepared 8 missions in total but the TLV group won 4 and the Jerusalem group won 4 so at the end of the missions we had a tie! Of course we couldn’t let it end like that so Hagai, one of the counselors from Jerusalem, came up with a cool idea for a tie breaker! Unfortunately for some the Jerusalem group won the game by just one point. I know you are disappointed but don’t worry, we are working on it for the next Tiyul… 

The second day of the Tiyul was fantastic – the students were able to choose the hike they wanted to do. Hike one was “Masada” and hike two was “Nahal Arugot” (Arugot Stream). Both of them presented a number of challenges as well as an amazing view. Az Troenkrasnow came to Nahal Arugot with a Life Straw and actually drank from the water… It was very cool and we all felt protected from any diseases thanks to his life-saving equipment. How Not to be FraierOn Friday the staff took the students to the “Carmel Market” for a workshop called “How Not to be Fraier.” A lot of sellers in Israel try to cheat tourists by giving them a “special price” which is always a significant mark up on the regular cost. The counselors went with the students and gave them a list of little things to buy and 30 NIS for each group of apartments. Each apartment needed to buy everything on the list using as little money as possible from their initial 30 Shekels and the group that came back with the most change, within the allotted time, won. In the evening we went to the International Synagogue of Tel Aviv for Kabalat Shabbat and dinner with the local Rabbi. During dinner the Rabbi asked each student to introduce themselves with an interesting fact.- One of the girls said that she has a relative from “The Sounds of Music”! I was amazed! I hope you all enjoyed listening to the stories of your children – I’m sure that they have a lot to share with you. I’m also aware of the fact that many students are not always very communicative when it comes to sharing information about what they have been up to so feel free to use my emails as a prompt to ask them about Masada or the International Synagogue or any other part of the program.