The Core Program
Aardvark Israel offers long-term gap year programs located in the two most exciting cities in Israel: Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Everyone on Aardvark will…
Sample Weekly Schedule
|Morning||Volunteering / Internships||Volunteering / Internships||Excursions||Volunteering / Internships||Volunteering / Internships or Special Interest Activities|
|Afternoon||Special Interest Activities||Studies||Excursions||Studies||Studies|
|Evening||Apartment Meetings||Evening Program (optional)||Evening Program (optional)||Faces of Israel||Free Weekend with Optional Shabbaton|
Living Like a Local
Living in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, our gap year participants take full advantage of the cultural enrichment, night life, and convenience of the two most popular cities in Israel for today’s young adults.
These cities provide countless options for:
- diverse, high-quality community service
- internship experiences
- countless enrichment opportunities
- proximity to attractions such as the Old City in Jerusalem and the beach in Tel Aviv
- relevance to program participants as they become integrated into their homes.
From these centers, students also have easy access to the comprehensive public transportation system allowing them to explore Israel in their free time.
Students on our gap year programs will be immersed into Israeli society, living in comfortable apartments in desirable neighborhoods in each city.
In Tel Aviv: students live in the trendy Florentine neighborhood surrounded by young Israelis.
In Jerusalem: students live in the Katamonim neighborhood with popular Emek Refaim just a few minutes down the road.
By establishing relationships with your Israeli neighbors and the staff of your volunteer placement, you will become part of the surrounding community and grow to feel “at home” in each city.
You will receive a monthly local bus pass which will allow you to travel around the city in which you are living (Jerusalem or Tel Aviv) using the public bus system. This will enable you to get to and from your volunteer placements, classes and explore the city.
Aardvark students are housed with other program participants in single sex apartments. The number of people in each apartments ranges from four to six depending on the layout of the apartment. All of the apartments are fully furnished and equipped with kitchen appliances and utensils. Every apartment has WiFi. We have apartments catering to various levels of religious observance. With the guidance of qualified counselors, you will learn to cook, clean, budget, do laundry, and live together with your roommates.
Understanding that this will be the first time many participants are living on their own, staff will work with the students in each apartment to ensure a positive group dynamic and the health and welfare of the participants.
Throughout the year, the counselors hold weekly apartment meetings to facilitate and solve any issues which may arise, and also pay friendly visits to the students’ apartments. As the year progresses, the students will be encouraged to be more independent in their problem-solving in order to foster growth and maturity.
Volunteer or Intern
Participants of our Israel gap year programs are given a wide range of choices and are placed at sites that match their interests and skills for the duration of each semester. You will volunteer three to four mornings a week, giving you the chance to build your resume, interact with Israelis, and contribute to Israeli society. In addition to the numerous options you will be given, the staff is available to identify additional options to suit your individual preferences.
Some of our options include:
- Radio, TV, and Newspaper
- Start-Up Companies
- Political Think Tanks
- Event Planning
- Music Production
- Zoo and Animal Shelters
- Archaeological Dig
- Save a Child’s Heart
- Magen David Adom (ambulance service)
Click here to see more pictures.
- Teaching English in Schools
- Fashion Designer
- Jewelry Designer
- Assistance to Survivors of Terror
- Environmental Projects
- Old Age Homes
- Special Needs Schools
- Organization Fighting Human Trafficking
- Community Gardens
- Therapeutic Riding Center
The goal of the academic program is to inspire students and provide opportunities for growth through actively engage them in intellectual exploration. Three afternoons each week are dedicated to academic learning with a wide variety of courses available including Hebrew, Jewish and Zionist topics, and popular general studies courses. The range of courses offered on Aardvark allows students to choose courses that are of interest as well as courses that will advance their academic careers.
Through a partnership with the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, Aardvark Israel gap year participants may earn up to 15 credits per semester (up to 30 credits per year.) A minimum final high school GPA of 2.0 is required for credit eligibility. Those students who successfully complete the course requirements will be able to request to transfer their credit to their desired university following their semester/year in Israel. Students may also choose to audit their courses. Transcripts for courses taken as part of Aardvark Israel are issued by the American Jewish University which is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), the same agency that accredits UCLA, Stanford, and all other recognized colleges and universities in the Western United States. For more information about the American Jewish University, please visit their website at www.aju.edu.
You will be required to take Hebrew, one Israel Elective and one other elective of your choice per semester. Up to five courses including Hebrew may be taken each semester. The following courses are offered between our two campuses (not all courses are offered every year, depending on demand, and each course is only offered in one of our campuses during any given semester).
Academic courses include:
- History of Zionism and Israeli Society
- The Power of Persuasion
- Eternal Jerusalem
- Introduction to Psychology
- Social Psychology
- Developmental Psychology
- Jewish Business Ethics
- Middle East Politics: A New Middle East
- Introduction to Business
- Introduction to Service Learning
- Judaism as a Faith and Civilization
- The Art of Reading and Writing
- Introduction to Midrash
- History of Modern Movements
- Jewish Thought
- Contemporary Politics
- The Arab Israeli Conflict
- Jewish Medical Ethics
- Contemporary Israeli Politics
- Holocaust in Israeli Literature
- Social Psychology
The American Jewish University (AJU) is a 4-year, private, liberal-arts College located in Los Angeles, California. It is a thriving center of Jewish resources and talent built upon the mission of Learning and Scholarship, Culture, Ethics, Leadership and Peoplehood. It is a school for Jews and non-Jews, the observant and the secular. Its fresh approach to undergraduate education has garnered the respect and praise of academics across the nation. Students have an unparalleled opportunity to informally interact with internationally recognized scholars, and are offered a mentor program that can facilitate personal introductions into their field of choice. AJU has been able to sustain one of the lowest student-faculty ratios in the nation at 7:1 while maintaining one of the most affordable tuition rates of private universities in Southern California. As an academic leader for more than 60 years, AJU continues to make all elements of Jewish civilization relevant and available for academic, cultural, and spiritual growth.
Click here to view an exciting video about the AJU undergraduate program! The American Jewish University invites you to consider enrolling in one of its degree programs! Aardvark Israel participants can earn up to a year’s worth of college credit to AJU. Additionally, Aardvark Israel students qualify for $7,500/year in AJU scholarships. Curious? Contact AJU at [email protected] or 310-440-1250 for more info.
Trips and Excursions
We believe that learning takes place outside the classroom as much as inside. Each week, we take you on an excursion allowing you to connect to Israel in a deep and meaningful way. Understanding that most of our students have been to Israel before, we take you off the beaten path to hidden treasures that tourists and even some Israelis never get to experience. These field trips include visits to nature reserves, historical sites, museums, a variety of communities and more. In addition, three times each semester, we take you on overnight trips to explore the different regions of the country, including a unique Kibbutz experience.
- Burma Road Jeep Tour
- Hebron and Herodian (King Herod’s Fortress)
- Dialogue in the Dark
- The Temple Mount / Dome of the Rock
- Natal (center to help survivors of terror)
- Graffiti Tour of Tel Aviv
- Zedekiah’s Cave
- Machon Ayalon (underground bullet making factory)
- Begin Museum
- Underground Prisoner’s Museum
- Ein Mabua Natural Spring
- Kibbutz Ketura Seminar
- Overnight trips to Galil, Golan, Negev, and Judean Desert
- And many more!
Evenings and Weekends
Taking advantage of your free time is an important aspect to your experience in Israel. You are encouraged to use your time wisely by participating in the variety of optional evening activities the program provides which focus on social and cultural events in each city, as well as by visiting friends and family, enjoying the local night life, traveling on the weekends to various parts of the country and seeing things you haven’t already seen. Examples of some evening activities include street festivals, acrobalance workshop, krav maga lessons, poyke on the beach, and rock climbing. Aardvark’s campus Rabbi also hosts events on a regular basis in both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Optional Shabbatonim are offered throughout the year which immerse you in communities throughout the country. Students are also welcome to stay in their apartments on their free weekends and host guests.
Click here to see photos of our evening activities.