gap year in israel
This week in Tel Aviv we started to really feel the end of the semester. Each group participated in a concluding activity with their Madrich or Madricha, students started to clean up the apartments, final classes and exams were held, and some goodbye dinners were eaten. One half of our community visited Sderot and the Gaza Strip. This is what Joey Lipschitz wrote about the experience: “For my final Tiyul Tuesday with Aardvark, we went to a few Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip. After a long bus ride south, we stopped at a viewpoint in Kibbutz Nahal Oz. Our tour guide Michael detailed the history of Gaza from the Independence War in 1948 to Operation Protective Edge just a few years ago. In the distance, we were able to make out some buildings right across the border. Our next stop was in Beerot Yitzchak, a kibbutz that was abandoned after the war in ‘48. Michael told us about the chaotic battle that was fought there and how its inhabitants relocated near Tel Aviv after the war. After a quick lunch break in the city of Sderot, we looked at examples of fallen “Kasam” missiles at the police station there. Next, we headed to a playground where one of the play structures is actually a shelter. We discussed with our tour guide how the falling missiles affect Israelis psychologically as well as physically. Our last stop was in Netiv HaAsarah, a small moshav right on the border. We met Tsameret Zamir, an artist who lives there who created a project called “נתיב לשלום” (path to peace). After a quick video explaining what life is like near Gaza, she told us about her project, decorating part of the border wall with ceramic pieces to make something ugly prettier. Tsameret explained how there are many people in Gaza who want peace just like us. She urged us to not give up on the idea of peace in this region. We then walked to the wall and added to the gigantic mosaic. This trip was a great end to the semester; it was interesting to hear about what life is like in this complex area.”
The other half of our community visited Beit She’an and Tel Israel.

This is from Micah Derringer: “For the final Tiyul Tuesday of of the semester, we had the opportunity to go to Beit She’an, a beautiful biblical town once occupied by the Romans. Before arriving, we stopped to take a hike in Tel Israel, where we enjoyed the beautiful nature, learning about the plants and animals surrounding us. At the end of the hike, we built a fire and made some delicious pita. From there, it was off to Beit She’an, where we walked exactly where the Romans had resided many years ago. From their bath houses, to their theater, and even their toilets, we were able to get a glimpse into their daily life. Overall, it was a very engaging and relaxing way to spend our last Tuesday of the semester.”
Gap year in israel - aardvarkisrael
“It is crazy to think I have already been living in Israel for four months. Time really does fly when you are having fun! Before coming to Israel, everyone on Aardvark was a stranger to me. Little did I know that I would soon be considering the nine other people living in the Chalutzim building some of my closest friends. We have been given the chance to have so many fun and unique experiences together. Whether it is going on camping trips, spending the weekend in Eilat, or riding paddle boats at the park, we are always creating new memories that I know will last forever. It is a bittersweet ending as this semester starts to wrap up. I am sad to see some of my friends go home and to have to say goodbye to Tel Aviv, but I am eager to begin my second semester in Jerusalem, where I will continue to make new friends and memories.”

– Jojo Bedrava
Gap year in israel - aardvarkisrael
Internship In The Spotlight – CHEQ By Tobie Bertisch

“My name is Tobie Bertisch and I’ve spent the past three months working as a marketing intern at CHEQ in Tel Aviv. CHEQ provides cybersecurity software that ensures businesses only pay for ads clicked on by authentic, human users. Ad fraud is a major issue in the digital marketing world as approximately $35 billion was lost due to ad fraud in 2020 alone. Bots, web crawlers, click farms, and competing businesses all use ad fraud to drain companies’ advertising budgets and CHEQ is one of the only companies providing protective solutions.

I had no marketing experience before I came to Aardvark, but I have a passion for science and technology and I was eager to gain experience in a new field. My internship responsibilities included researching social media marketing trends, small business associations, competitors of CHEQ, and writing blog posts for the CHEQ website.

Interning at CHEQ this semester was my first experience with a “real office job” and it gave me skills I never had the opportunity to develop at home. I learned how to present myself in a professional manner, communicate effectively with my boss and other members of the team, and I enjoyed the many perks of working for a big company (most notably the monthly Wolt budget and holiday gift baskets.) I am very grateful for this experience and I know the skills I gained from it will help me tremendously in the future.”
“From the time I was little I have always known what a special place Israel was. My trips here as a child mostly revolved around family and friends. This year’s journey on Aardvark Israel has provided me an opportunity to experience the country in a deeper, more meaningful light. When corona came around and I was left with very few options for fall 2020, Aardvark seemed like the best possible choice. My decision to spend a semester in Israel on Aardvark was rather impulsive, but I am so glad that I made the right decision to take that leap. My time here has been incredible with just a few bumps.

One of my favorite experiences this semester was visiting Kibbutz Ketura. Those few days away from reality were so serene. The nature we were surrounded in made us all feel at peace with ourselves and each other. I have made the best friends on this program. We have formed bonds that will last a lifetime. Living in Markolet Tel Aviv can definitely be a little chaotic, but I know I am always welcome to just hang, chat, or contemplate life in any of the apartments. It really feels like we have built a true, safe, solid community in such a short time.

Food is another big favorite. Whether it is trying out a new vegan restaurant or just getting falafel, the cuisine here is heavenly. The most important thing that I am taking away from my last four months is how much I have grown here. I am grateful to have been part of a program that has supported my personal growth and has helped me flourish and create new beginnings.”

– Noa Agatsein
Gap year in israel - aardvarkisrael
As I prepare to leave Tel Aviv and reflect on the last four months, my head is filled with so many memories of good times and new experiences. Living and working in Tel Aviv has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to have joined Aardvark. I’ve enjoyed everything – from the great people, to my internship, to the fun and interesting Tuesday trips, to my Sea Sports elective. After the initial quarantine, I quickly connected with my fellow Aardvarkians. I really enjoyed hanging out in our apartments, exploring Tel Aviv, and playing basketball with my friends. Over the past four months, I have cultivated and strengthened friendships that I know will outlast my time in Israel. I also really enjoyed the relationships I formed with the madrichim (especially Maya), who I not only looked to for guidance but who I’ve grown to consider real friends.

This past semester, I interned at CHEQ, a cybersecurity company that protects from online ad fraud. This was my first “real” job and I couldn’t be happier with my choice. I learned a lot from professionals who welcomed me with open arms and appreciated my contributions.

Without a doubt, Sea Sports was a highlight of my Aardvark experience. I thoroughly enjoyed each weekly activity, including surfing, paddle boarding, the ropes course, and paintball. Sea Sports culminated with an action-packed three-day trip to Eilat which was filled with an extraordinary mix of activities (shout out Shayun)!

As the semester comes to a close, I want to thank everyone who made the last four months so incredible. I am really looking forward to creating more memories in Jerusalem next semester.

– Josh Cooper
Our fall semster has come to an end, and we are starting our break, until the the beginning of the next semester in Jerusalem. To the students who are continuing with us to Jerusalem – the Jerusalem staff is waiting for you and can’t wait to meet you. To the students who are starting a new chapter back home or anywhere else – make sure to come back and visit anytime you’re in Tel Aviv. Thank you for a great semester!

Our Madricha on call this weekend is Shayun.

Shabbat Shalom,