gap year in israel

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

Dear Parents,

I feel very emotional writing this last email of the autumn semester. Today is the final day and we are very busy saying our goodbyes to everyone who is leaving and not coming back next semester. Each that arrives to collect our students and take them to the airport is escorted with tears and emotional farewells from our Madrichim and the entire staff. This was a very significant semester for us, which makes it that much more difficult to say goodbye, but at the same time we are taking a deep breath and look forward to the next semester. The students are preparing to move to Jerusalem and they couldn’t be more excited.

And now, for the last time, I will tell you about the past week:

On Sunday, after their volunteering/internships, the students came to our Moadon for a session with Idan, our internships coordinator and me. We discussed how the students can edit and improve their resumes, and how their experiences here can help them to get great internships next semester or help with landing a job in the future. After the session, the students wrote thank you letters to their internships, which they gave to them on their last day there.

In the evening, the Madrichim met with their groups for a fun activity summarizing the educational and personal process the students went through over this semester. The groups went to different restaurants for their last dinner together. The dinner really felt like a family occasion thanks to the close bonds formed over the last few months. Everyone laughed and spoke about meaningful experiences they had together and some even enlightened our Madrichim about gossip that was previously kept secret from the group. It was an extraordinary dinner and everyone went back home happy, full and satisfied.

Monday was our last day of academic study and internships. The students went to their internships/ volunteering with their goodbye letters summarizing their 4 months of experience. Over the last several days, we have received a large number of emails from the mentors at the internships, praising the students for their hard work and showing true appreciation for having the chance to meet and work with them over the last few months. We are all extremely proud of the students for their hard work and learning process; we wish them the best of luck and hope that this experience helps them in their future on whichever career path they choose to follow.

In the academic classes, our teachers brought cakes and snacks for everyone and each class had a heart to heart discussion about everything that they have learnt over the past semester.

In the evening, our Madrichim ran an amazing farewell ceremony for the students. Each group sat in a classroom and their Madrich gave each student a goodbye gift and a personal letter that included pictures from their different adventures together through the semester. The students thanked their Madrich and they shared different stories from their time together. Afterwards, everyone gathered in the Moadon and the Madrichim gave each student a small notebook to pass around to their friends so that they can write each other a few words of goodbye. The notebook should be a great and memorable present for a lifetime.

On Tuesday we met with the Jerusalem group for our final Tuesday Tiyul of the Semester. We gathered at the Yitzhak Rabin Center. The Yitzhak Rabin Center in Tel Aviv weaves the history of the State of Israel through the life story of one of its most devoted sons. In fact, it is the only official memorial dedicated to this monumental man. Yitzhak Rabin, born in 1922, grew up alongside the State of Israel. The museum makes it clear that both the State and Rabin had their ups and downs, moments of glory and a fair share of problems. One of the newest museums in Israel, the Yitzhak Rabin Center brings together a piece of history and modern technology by integrating sensor-activated audio guides. The museum really consists of three main sections, the inner corridor, the outer corridor, and the audio guide. The outer corridor tells the story of Yitzhak Rabin’s life: who he was, the positions he held, the problems he faced and the decisions he made. Every so often, a pathway to the inner corridor appears leading you through the story of Israel at the same point in time. To add further context, each outer corridor features important news snippets from around the world. Along the way, our audio guide’s sensors activated music, speeches, or news broadcasts that complement the visual exhibit.

After exploring the museum and then enjoying a beautiful view of Tel Aviv at sunset, the students sat in groups with the counselors, and looked at posters created by art students that depicted what Israel would be like at 100 years old, in 2048. In addition, because it is the end of the semester, the students discussed their connection with Israel and how it has changed over the past 4 months. We then headed for a very tasty dinner at a restaurant in Jaffa called ‘Doctor Shakshuka’. It was an amazing day and an amazing last trip this semester!

On Wednesday evening, we met for our closing activity run by the culture committee in the Moadon. The Aardvark Oscar Night! A few days ago, the students filled in a form and picked their friends for different categories of awards, such as the most punctual, the best cook, the messiest and more. We took their choices and put them in an online voting system so that they can choose one student from four leading nominees. The students dressed up in their best clothes and two of the students, Jess and Leah, hosted the event.

We began the evening with an amazing picture presentation put together by Ellie Leybengrub. The number of pictures was amazing and made us realize how much we’ve been through over the last semester. It was an exciting, funny evening with a great atmosphere. We could tell from the students’ reactions to the different categories and all the different inside jokes that they know each other so well.

After the main Oscar event, we watched an incredible video made by Jordi Sachs. We will upload it soon to the social network for you all to see and enjoy. To close the event, Danna Bederson and Jess Mandel, performed a beautiful song while playing guitar and ukulele. It was a beautiful night and a great closing event to a great semester.

I would like to say that it’s been an amazing ride here with your children, seeing them grow and take part in the daily activities, succeeding in their internships and volunteering, learning Hebrew and attending classes for university credit, touring around Israel and learning so much about our beautiful country from the trips and the lectures. The best thing was, seeing them having such a good time together while dealing with all kind of challenges in the program, forming lasting bonds and becoming an amazing group that ultimately became a family. Aardvark Family.

Thank you all for your care and involvement in your child’s gap year; it has been a pleasure to be a part of their educational staff.