gap year in israel

Check out our social media to see what our students have been up to this past week!

February 2024

Shalom Parents, Students, Partners, and Staff,

The second month of our spring semester is over! We had some very exciting programs and Tiyulim (Trips) in February, during which our students learned about diversity within Israeli culture, how to become strong leaders, connect with their Jewish identities, and, of course, they gained hands-on experience at their internships!

Israel flag

Ethiopia International Add-On Trip

February started off with a few of our students traveling to Ethiopia. They explored the fascinating history of the Ethiopian Jewish community and their inspiring Aliyah to Israel, as well as the history and current reality of the Jewish community in Ethiopia today. Our students experienced authentic Ethiopian culture through meeting the people of the country, eating traditional Ethiopian food, and visiting historically significant sites.
Aardvark israel gap year

MADA - Let’s Get Going!

Shortly after the return of our students from Ethiopia, the Magen David Adom (MADA) program began! MADA is Israel’s ambulance service. Students who are registered for the MADA track, train to become certified first responders in Israel, and then they volunteer alongside Israeli EMTs and paramedics.

“During the MADA course, we challenged ourselves, building a small community with other gap year programs throughout the 10 days of intense 12-hour lectures. Having finished the course and soon moving on to working shifts inside ambulances, I feel very rewarded to have gone through such a unique experience.”

 – Daniel Sabo, current student in our Tikva community

Internships, volunteering and real world experiences!

Doing a gap year is all about gaining experience in the real world, learning how to communicate with one another, learning valuable life skills and finding out what it means to work in a professional environment. Our students have settled in their internships and volunteering , so let’s hear a little bit about how things are going!

Classic Track:

“My name is Evan Mogilner, and my internship is at the wildlife hospital in the Ramat Gan Safari Park. My daily work consists of preparing food for the animals, creating habitats to make the animals comfortable, and assisting with medical care. I work with a wide variety of animals, such as hedgehogs, gazelles, birds of prey, and tortoises. I am learning so much at the Safari, and it is directly contributing to my goal of being an exotic veterinarian. My time at the Safari is a huge part of my Aardvark experience, and my experience living in Israel.”

-Evan Mogilner, current student in Classic Track

Evan mogilner

Service Track:

“Hi! I’m Linoy and I’m from south Florida. I volunteer at an elementary/middle school in Ramat Gan. I help students from 1st to 8th grade improve and work on their English speaking and reading skills! Not only am I helping these kids but they’re helping me. I have learned so much just by being at this school with these students. They have taught me how to be more patient, be more communicative, work on my problem solving and much more. I have formed a bond with the students and teachers which gives me more motivation to come everyday!”

-Linoy Noah, current participant in Service Track

Volunteer at an elementary/middle school in ramat gan

Tech Track:

Hi, my name is Lior Schifrin, and I’m on the Tech Track on Aardvark Israel. My internship is at an education technology company called ReShuffle. Their goal is to provide a new way of learning English – by teaching students professional skills via Instagram. What I do on a daily basis ranges a lot, from testing the platform and making bug reports (with a really cool spreadsheet) to using the chatGPT AI to make a chatbot for the company. My current project is creating a Discord bot for their discord server, where their students hang out and share ideas. I’ve had the great experience of working in a Tel Aviv startup, learning all about the business side of the company and going out for hummus with my boss (it’s really good!). I’ve had to adapt to working in a real company, learning how to present myself and get real work done as well as how to communicate, especially when I mess up. This combination of high-tech and hummus has made for a great Tel Aviv Aardvark experience.

-Lior Schiffrin, current student in Tech Track

Tech track

Leadership Seminar

This Month, all of our students were given the opportunity to choose from different tracks for our two-day leadership seminar. They hiked, learned from guest speakers, and experimented with different forms of creative media. Students in one track heard from Harel, the Head of Security of Kibbutz Re’im. He shared his story about how he led in protecting his kibbutz on October 7th.

Another group learned about leadership in times of the Bible and connected that to their personal Jewish experiences and religious growth.

Students in all tracks united at the end of the first day to enjoy dinner together in Bedouin tents

Leadership seminar

Bat/Bar Mitzvah celebration

This Month, we took a day trip to Jerusalem! We visited the Western Wall (Kotel), where some of our students who had never celebrated their bar/bat mitzvah took the opportunity to do so. They read from the Torah at the Kotel and shared some words about how the land of Israel and the sense of community has brought them closer to Judaism.

Here are two examples of thoughts that our students shared:

“In this Parasha, Aaron and his sons are commanded to set up [a] light from the night until the morning, during the time where the world around sleeps. This beacon of hope, as represented by the endless burning, reminds us that as the world is silent and hopeless, we must keep hope and trust. This light that is within us all, strings us all together despite times we are apart, or asleep.

“Since coming here, I have found immense meaning and connection with this sentiment. The incredible unity I have witnessed within the last month, within the state that I hold so close to my heart, has reminded me of this light, or hope, that is held as a connective string through every Jew’s heart.”

– Ronnie, current student in our Re’im community

“I left Israel when I was about four years old. Despite my parents’ best wishes, their children quickly lost most of their culture. The language. The familial connections. Judaism. When I came on Aardvark, one of my biggest hopes was to regain some of these lost connections.

“Today, about six years too late, I’m elated to finally say that I have, in fact, found what’s been lost. Today, I’m happy to say that I take my place in the eternal narrative of the Jewish people and have a chance to carry on the Jewish legacy.”

– Yotam, current student in our Tikvah community

Following the visit to the Kotel, we toured the Tower of David. We learned that it was built on the site of many earlier fortifications of the Hasmonean, Herodian, Byzantine, and Early Muslim periods, after being destroyed repeatedly.

Bat/bar mitzvah celebration

We’re on a World Tour; Come Meet Us!

Our admissions team traveled all over the world, explaining Israel and our program, of course. As part of our world tour, our team was at the BBYO International Convention in Orlando. They got to meet so many different people who are looking to strengthen their connection with Israel and with their Jewish identity. And the cherry on top, our team met Noa Tishby, Noa Kirel, Josh Peck, and Ben Soffer.

Next month, we’ll be visiting Germany and Switzerland and will be in our first ever Jewrovision!

If you are still not following us on social media platforms, you definitely should! Get a chance to experience our program on the go and stay up to date with what our students are doing!