gap year in israel

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Gap year in israel - aardvarkisrael

Shalom Parents and Students!

This week was a very emotional, though fun week for our students, as they got to go together to their last overnight tiyul for this semester! Our three communities (More than 150 students!) traveled to the north of Israel, to Beit She’an Valley. We started our trip early in the morning (waking up early is the best!) and rode all the way to Nachal Kelach, at Mount Carmel. The weather was perfect – not too hot and yet not cold (yup, that’s December in Israel). We continued to ancient Beit Shearim, also called the House of the Gates. This special place was declared as a National Heritage Site by UNESCO and symbolizes Jewish renewal. The students went all the way down to Beit Shearim’s beautiful, warmly lit caves where they learned about the ancient days through finding different engravings and symbols on the walls. The winner even got a prize!

Levontin girls in beit she'an national park
Levontin girls in Beit She'an National Park
Jerusalem students in the beautiful beit shearim
Jerusalem students in the beautiful Beit Shearim

Later, after settling down at the hostel and taking some time to rest, we celebrated the end of the semester with a festive dinner, along with speeches by our students Eliza and Gabi, who shared their experiences from the semester, how they’ve grown, and all they’ve learned during their time with us. We then watched our End-of-Semester video and went back to the hostel.

On the second day of the tiyul, we traveled to Beit She’an National Park, where the ancient Roman and Byzantine city of Beit She’an once was. The students took part in activities, such as racing, pantomime, and even a talent show (that station was our favorite…the students got really creative!) We then rode to Beit Alfa Synagogue in Kibbutz Hefziba, on the slopes of the Gilboa Mountains. This fascinating place, founded at the end of the fifth century CE, features an Aramaic mosaic, kept authentic and untouched until today. The mosaic depicts important symbols and stories from Judaism, such as the binding of Isaac, but also – the 12 signs of the zodiac written in Hebrew. Our last stop was at the city of Nazareth, which was already decorated and ready for Christmas. The students visited the beautiful Church of the Annunciation, with its beautiful architecture and stained glass. After trying out the finest Baklawa and Knafeh the city has to offer, we hopped on the buses and rode all the way home, to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Our Big Idea students are preparing for Impact Month, where they will use the tools they gained in the coding course to create apps and new websites, etc. The students will form relations with a non-profit organization and will work together on a product, creating the biggest impact possible. The students will get the right balance between working independently while being given assistance when they need it. The purpose of Impact Month is to give the students a unique experience of working with a real company, in collaboration with their peers, and with actual customers (and that’s before even going to college!)

Today, Selah started their special three-day Shabbaton in the mystical city of Tzfat, with a stop along the way as they travelled north. In the ancient city of Tzipori they saw beautiful and intricate mosaics, representative of a wealthy city. They experienced the tension of mixed ancient Jewish and Roman cultures. The Selah students had some Talmudic debates in the Beit Midrash before catching a show in the Roman theater. The perfect transition between the overnight trip yesterday and the Shabbaton this weekend, Tzfat should be the peak of an incredible week!

Big idea students preparing for impact month
Big Idea students preparing for Impact Month
Selah students on their shabbaton in tzfat
Selah students on their Shabbaton in Tzfat
Samuel Nimberg from New York, interning at the Steinhart Natural History Museum, told us a little bit of how his days there look: “I work at the Steinhart Natural History Museum where I work closely with the bird collections. I help organize the collections so they can be easily accessible to researchers. In addition to that, I help collect birds that may be added to the collections. I’m really enjoying my time at the collections where I’m exposed to a vast amount of learning opportunities and an overall immersion in the process of improving and adding to our bird collections.”
Gap year in israel - aardvarkisrael
From the somewhat rainy Israel (yay!) we would like to wish you all a fantastic weekend.