gap year in israel

Weekly Letter TLV - Feb 11, 2021

Weekly letter tlv - feb 11, 2021
Dear Parents & Students, With more people coming out of quarantine, this week we continued with our programing inside, outside, face-to-face, and online.

This week, a group of Aardvark students began their EMS training with Magen David Adom, Israel’s Ambulance Service. Through this experience, the students will gain many skills in the medical field, while being immersed in one of the most unique Israeli experiences. They will be dedicating time during their semester to helping people and even saving lives. We are so proud & look forward to seeing the amazing things they accomplish!
Weekly letter tlv - feb 11, 2021
Practicing CPR at the Mada course
Weekly letter tlv - feb 11, 2021
Enjoying some coffee after receiving the vaccine!
Weekly letter tlv - feb 11, 2021
We asked Danya Belkin to write about her expereince of getting and recovering from COVID:

“When I decided to come on a gap year to Israel I always knew that getting COVID was a possibility. COVID is known for its range of symptoms and contagiousness, which is what makes it such a dangerous virus. When I tested positive, this fear became a reality for me. Although I did experience many unpleasant symptoms, they were on the less severe side. I spent my time in quarantine cooking, watching lots of movies, doing art, and bonding with my fellow COVID-positive roommates. With the support of the Aardvark staff, my friends, and my quarantine roommates, I was able to get through this difficult time. I am thankful to have had a healthy recovery and I look forward to the rest of my semester in Israel.”
Weekly letter tlv - feb 11, 2021
With COVID and quarantine, taking our temperatures has become a common occurance. This week in Selah, we delved more deeply into exploring the history of the development of the various denominations of Judaism. We learned about the differences in beliefs and shared our experiences in the movements we grew up in. We also explored the “Pittsburgh Platform” of the Reform movement from 1885 and compared it to the new statement of 1999. This was all in preparation for meeting with Reform rabbis here in Tel Aviv to understand, compare, and contrast the liberal movement in Israel to the US. We met as almost a whole group in person outside in the park by the beach!

In (th)INK! this week, we explored questions of law and social justice as envisioned by the Torah, while contrasting it with some of our ideas in light of the current political climate. We also related these ideas to some of the questions that came up in Faces of Israel about the asylum seekers in Tel Aviv.

Another activity this week was Enter The Matrix. Dani Starr wrote about it:

“This week, we participated in a Matrix-themed activity. There were four different stations, and at each one we did a different exercise meant to teach us about ourselves and get us thinking about various things. There was an activity learning about eco awareness, one where we had to choose sides of political arguments as if they were completely black and white, an exercise in which only two of us could survive the end of humanity, and one about our opinions of Zionism and Israel. It was really interesting to see how all of my friends, as well as I, reacted to these different activities, and I feel like I learned a lot about everyone, but especially myself. Overall, I really enjoyed the activity, but look forward to going on a real tiyul sometime soon.”
Weekly letter tlv - feb 11, 2021
Gefen Finn wrote about our Faces Of Israel activity “For Faces of Israel this week, we took a closer look into one of the most underlooked and voiceless communities in the country: refugees. Split into groups by apartment, we were shown a 25-minute video in which five young refugees from different countries in Africa were given cue cards with different questions taken from public surveys. There were very serious questions asked, such as “Are Israelis Racist?” and also inquiries that made the participants laugh, like “Why do you steal our bikes?” a common accusation towards refugees in Israel. The video covered individual journeys to Israel, the mistreatment of these individiuals in public settings, such as insults and racist slurs, and the idea of immigration in general, and how it can divide a country. After the video was over, we spent the rest of the activity analyzing the responses of the partipants, which sparked a conversation of comparisons. It was not at all difficult to find similarities between these individuals and those who immigrate to America. We also touched on the fact that people of our generation who have been born in Israel are very similar to those who have left Africa to come here. Many ancestors of Israeli Jews were displaced persons after World War 2, in need of shelter and a fresh start in life. The refugees in the video we saw are now seeking all the same things, but are suffering from mistreatment, in the very place that they had hoped to find asylum. I am glad this activity was included in our schedule for the week, as it gave me the opportunity to discuss these types of issues with my rooomates and counselor, issues that are not unique to Israel, but cannot be overlooked.”
Weekly letter tlv - feb 11, 2021
Students enjoying their apartment meeting overlooking the beach with their counselor Shai
Weekly letter tlv - feb 11, 2021
Quarantine Baking
Weekly letter tlv - feb 11, 2021
This week, our Big Idea students completed Impact Month & their coding course! Here is what some of the students had to say: Big Idea has allowed me to sharpen my coding skills and use them for something meaningful.
-Harper Green

Before the Big Idea program, I had a small amount of programming knowledge limited to Python. Big Idea introduced me to JavaScript, and enhanced my HTML knowledge. Impact month has taught me what it is to work in a team of coders to complete a challenge, and use my knowledge to a practical end.
-Eli Prais

Big Idea has taught me about coding and teamwork, while applying our knowledge to worldwide issues. It has been really fun!
-Jaclyn Josephson

From the course last semester, I was able to understand how to use HTML, CSS, and the very basics of JavaScript
-Jamie Pila

Big Idea and Impact Month have taught me the basics of coding and how to apply them with a team to make something together
-Melissa Bell

Big Idea simultaneously taught me essential coding skills while giving me the opportunity to apply them to an important cause
-Jacob Karlovsky

Below is next week’s schedule:
Weekly letter tlv - feb 11, 2021
Next week, we will continue with classes and internships, a game of hide and seek to get to know Florentin better, a visit to Local Testimony – a social-political exhibition, and a lecture with one of the candidates for Prime Minister, Gideon Saar. Israel’s government elections are coming up on March 23rd, and we are trying to learn as much as we can about Israeli politics!

Our Madrich on call this weekend is Shai T.

Shabbat Shalom,
Etai