January 2022
Welcome spring 2022
Welcome spring 2022
Welcome spring 2022

Shalom Parents, Students, Partners, and Staff,

After overcoming flight delays, closed borders, and a variety of issues… the students are here and Spring 2022 has officially started! 🙂 Curious to know how our students’ first weeks looked? Scroll down and find out!

Liad, jordan, claire, jacob, and lulu in machane yehuda market
Liad, Jordan, Claire, Jacob, and Lulu in Machane Yehuda Market
Bike riding at sunset along tel aviv's promenade
Bike riding at sunset along Tel Aviv's promenade
One of the first things one should do when he or she moves to a new city, is well – to go for a quick tour, right? But how can you get the whole experience without trying out the local food? Besides, this is Israel! Delicious food is everywhere. Our students went on a food tour in Levinsky Market (Tel Aviv) and Machane Yehuda Market (Jerusalem), starting their local experiences with delicious pastries, knafeh, burekas, and of course – hummus and falafel. Later, they took a bike ride along the sunny promenade of Tel Aviv, right by the beach. No better way to get to know your new home, don’t you think?

Our students already started exploring the hidden gems of Israel, while traveling down South to the Negev Desert. Our Jerusalem community went to Sde Boker, where they visited Ben Gurion’s grave in Kibbutz Sde Boker and learned about Israel’s first prime minister, one of the most important figures in the revival of the Jewish people in the land of Israel. After that, they traveled to Be’er Sheva, and visited Abraham’s Well. The trip’s theme was ‘New Beginnings,’ as each student recently had their own new beginning in a new city.

Tel Aviv communities traveled south to Nachal Rachaf. The nachal is located right by Arad, and is flourishing with nature and animals, especially camels! The students hiked through the nachal on a sunny day and talked about life in the desert, the differences between the cultures in Israel, and about Yitzhak Rabin’s “Yihiye Besder” (Everything will be alright) famous speech, that is still relevant today.

Jerusalem community at ben gurion's grave in sde boker
Jerusalem community at Ben Gurion's grave in Sde Boker
Natalie, sophie, and issac on tuesday tiyul day, near arad
Natalie, Sophie, and Issac on Tuesday tiyul day, near Arad

On our students’ second week in the program, we celebrated Tu B’Shevat, also known as Rosh Ha’Shana La’Ilanot (New Year of the Trees). On this holiday, we celebrate nature and Earth by planting trees, cleaning local parks, and eating dried fruits, which is meant to symbolize the loyalty of the diaspora’s allegiance to the land of Israel. Our Tu B’Shvat seder was led by Paul, our Jewish Life Coordinator. We love dried fruits!

Behold everyone: snow came to Israel! As this is not a regular occasion in our hot, little country, our students didn’t miss the opportunity to enjoy this event, and went out to play in the snow! We would do so too…you can be sure about that!

Tu b'shevat feast in tel aviv!
Tu B'Shevat feast in Tel Aviv!
Let it snow! Alexa, rony, lulu, elysha, jillian and haley enjoying the snow in jerusalem!
Let it snow! Alexa, Rony, Lulu, Elysha, Jillian and Haley enjoying the snow in Jerusalem!

TZEDAKAH AND INNOVATION

Our Big Idea tech track students have already dived into Impact Month, in collaboration with Nefesh B’Nefesh. The students are working on an app that will help new Olim (immigrants to Israel) find events in the city, and later on – maybe even in the entire country! This meaningful, important collaboration will not only help new Olim assimilate into Israeli society, but will also give our students hands-on experience working with real clients while coding, designing, and finally – presenting a real product to the management of Big Idea and the Nefesh B’Nefesh staff. Elliot Kupchik wrote about his impressions from the process: “To start off our Impact Month, myself and the other students were introduced to the office of Nefesh B’Nefesh, located in the heart of Tel Aviv. We met several experienced workers in high tech, who talked to us about our upcoming work and helped us get acquainted with the office. After these initial seminars, we set off to work, assigning roles to start the construction of the mobile app. In all, the first days with Nefesh B’Nefesh were a nice introduction into the world of high tech, and has us very excited for the upcoming experiences we will have in Tel Aviv!”

Selah students (our Jewish Enrichment Track) explored deeper-level issues concerning Tzedakah, one of the most important Jewish Mitzvahs. The discussion was led by Rabbi Paul, where they talked about the choice between saving ten lives in Africa or using the same money to help three local people. How do scammers who don’t deserve Tzedakah affect calculations of whether to give? These questions were brought up during the session, and our students ended with a walk to the old Central Bus Station to distribute food and umbrellas to some of the homeless there.

Big idea students in nefesh b'nefesh offices in tel aviv
Big Idea students in Nefesh B'Nefesh offices in Tel Aviv
Our selah students learning about tzedakah
Our Selah students learning about Tzedakah

SPOTLIGHT! ELSIGHT - THE EVOLUTION OF CONNECTIVITY

Gap year in israel - aardvarkisrael
Gap year in israel - aardvarkisrael
New semester, new spotlights on our internships and volunteering! Leon Paratz from Australia recently started his internship at Elsight in an engineering position: “My internship is at a company called Elsight, specializing in fast and reliable communications technology. Our main product is the Halo, a device that combines four separate network signals into one faster and more reliable signal using AI and VPN technology. I’ve just begun working in an engineering position, taking care of onboarding, the process of bringing customers into the system, explaining how the Halo hardware and its associated cloud platform connect to each other, and how to tailor the plethora of features to each customer’s needs. My first few days have consisted of going through that onboarding process myself; attempting to set up one of the Halo chips from box to functional in order to gain a greater appreciation of the Elsight system and to understand the difficulty in making a high tech system easier to use.” Sounds so cool, Leon! Stay tuned for our next spotlight, where we will be introducing a different internship or volunteering placement.

So many new, exciting, experiences, and it’s only the beginning! We can’t imagine what the rest of the semester will bring 😉 Can you start imagining YOUR year?

See you again in a month!