gap year in israel

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The aardvark monthly - april 2023
The aardvark monthly - april 2023

Shalom Parents, Students, Partners, and Staff,

Wow, April flew by! We hope this newsletter finds you well, and we hope you have had meaningful experiences like our students have.. As we welcome the month of May, we are excited to share some updates from our Aardvarkians, who are now starting their last month in the program! Check it out ⬇️

The month of April included the celebration of Passover and Israel’s national memorial days, a time for reflection, gratitude, and unity among families and the entire Jewish community. Right after Passover break, some of our students celebrated Mimouna, a festive Moroccan holiday, where they ate a lot of delicious pastries, Mufletot (a Moroccan pancake) and lots of colorful sweets, marking the end of the holiday.

Our staff also selected three Mensches, an award given to outstanding students. This time, it was Henry Goldsmith from the UK, Nica Friedman from the US, and Gilad Nagar from Australia! They sure deserved it 😇

In the photo above, you can see some of our beloved students at an optional Shabbaton at Maayan Harod, in the Jezreel Valley. Many of our students chose to spend Shabbat together, celebrating, participating in multiple activities, including Shabbat dinner, Oneg Shabbat, and choosing which services to attend: Reform, Traditional or Orthodox.

Mimouna at the rothschild community!
Mimouna at the Rothschild community!
Henry, nica, and gilad as our mensches!
Henry, Nica, and Gilad as our Mensches!

After Passover break, the students came together for Yom HaShoa, Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Day. They took part in a relatively new initiative to commemorate this sad day – Zikaron BaSalon – where each group of people hosts a Holocaust survivor, who tells their story. Our Betzalel community met Elite Olshtain, who shared her remarkable, emotional survival story.

The week after Yom HaShoa, the students observed Yom HaZikaron, the memorial day for fallen soldiers and victims of terror. This day always involves mixed emotions, and is immediately followed by Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day. Our students learned about this complex day. After we all took part at Masa Israel’s annual ceremony, some students chose to cook a dish that a fallen soldier used to love, through a project called Matkon Eem Zikaron (recipe with a memory). Others decided to go jogging, running in memory of a fallen soldier, or to follow Otto Grossman’s footsteps on a short hike.

Betzalel community with elite olshtain
Betzalel community with Elite Olshtain
Commemorating those who gave everything for israel's independence
Commemorating those who gave everything for Israel's independence
Following in otto grossman's footsteps
Following in Otto Grossman's footsteps
Emily and zehava making 'matkon eem zikaron'
Emily and Zehava making 'Matkon Eem Zikaron'
‘running in their memory’
‘Running in Their Memory’

This month, we celebrated our Australian students, who observed Anzac Day on the same day when we here in Israel observed Yom HaZikaron. Anzac Day was first observed on 25 April 1916, as people came together to honor those lost at Gallipoli.

Curious to know a few of their stories, and what brought them to Israel (some of them for the very first time 🤩)? Click on their images and read it all.

Taya samuels
Taya from Australia 🇦🇺
Josh from melbourne
Josh from Melbourne 🇦🇺
Dustin from australia
Dustin from Australia 🇦🇺

Ella Duvdevani and Maya Shindel, both from Betzalel community, intern for Lightricks, a high-tech media company focusing on video editing and design. They both work in the marketing department, where they create content for social media, storyboards, branding, etc. “My favorite part of my internship is that I am working at a real tangible company, so I am gaining real world experience that I can use in my future career. It is also a great work environment so I love being here and I usually stay longer that my internship hours”, says Maya.

Ella Duvdevani told us what she likes best about her position at Lightricks: “The internship has given me the opportunity to become better friends with someone from my community (she is talking about Maya, right there!) and it helped broaden my horizons.

During the days we record and edit videos, communicate with our bosses and have meetings every day”.

Next year, Ella will be a Neuroscience Major at Indiana University and Maya will be double majoring in Journalism, Mass Communication and Sports Management at The University of Iowa. Good luck, ladies!

Lightricks, a high-tech media company focusing on video editing and design
Students in Selah, our Jewish Enrichment Track, found time to volunteer and give some Tzedaka. Led by Rabbi Liad Braude, our Jewish Life Coordinator, they volunteered at a farm area, where they harvested potatoes! All the potatoes they collected will be given to people in need. 💙
Wow, that's a lot of potatoes!
Wow, that's a lot of potatoes!
Working hard!
Working hard!

That’s all for this time! We wish you a wonderful month, full of new exciting adventures just like our students are having. We already have a lot to tell you next month – our last two international trips, last tiyul, and final ceremony. But no spoilers!

See you in June,

The Aardvark Israel Staff