gap year in israel

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Gap year in israel - aardvarkisrael

Shalom Parents and Students!

This week was our students’ last week of internships and volunteering, and next week they will be packing and getting everything ready for winter break. Some of our students are going back home, some are staying with us for another semester (yay!), but most of them are focused on creating last memories with their madrichim and new best friends. What did their almost-last week look like? Scroll down to read it all

Jerusalem students at yad la'shiryon!
Jerusalem students at Yad La'shiryon!
Levontin community on tuesday tiyul in nachlaot
Levontin community on Tuesday Tiyul in Nachlaot

This week, our Jerusalem students traveled to Yad La-Shiryon and Latrun, near Jerusalem. Yad La-Shiryon is Israel’s official memorial site for fallen soldiers from the armored corps, as well as one of the most diverse tank museums in the world. It was built in 1982, by veteran officers of the armored corps. Our students got to see the tanks which served the IDF soldiers during the wars in Israel.

Our Rothschild and Levontin communities traveled to the Nachlaot neighborhood in Jerusalem. They started their tour by lighting the candles and eating sufganiyot (Because did you really celebrate Hanukkah if you didn’t have a sufganiyah? We don’t think so!). They walked through the streets of Nachlaot to see some of Jerusalem’s most special Hanukkiot. They had some free time at Shuk Machane Yehuda to absorb some of the holiday spirits.

Florentin community traveled to Sderot, where they learned about life in the city closest to the border with Gaza. They visited a playground that is actually a shelter. Considering that the residents of Sderot have less than a minute to enter a shelter when a missile is launched from Gaza, local artists thought about a creative way to make this uncertain, scary situation less frightening for children. So they decorated the entire playground and painted colorful drawings on the slides and shelters.
They continued to the Moshav (village) Netiv Ha’asara, which is right on the border with Gaza (don’t worry, our students stayed on the safe side), and listened to one of the Moshav’s residents, who told them about her special ceramic project, and what it’s like to live in such a place. Then, each one of them took a ceramic decorated piece and placed it on the wall, separating both sides, called ‘Path to Peace’.

Did we mention it’s Hanukkah yet? Well, sometimes enough just isn’t enough when you get the chance to celebrate it in Israel! Our students spent the entire week lighting the candles, making latkes, and decorating sufganiyot (yum!).

On another note, look who got a special reward for being top of his Hebrew class – Matt Siegel from the Levontin community! Matt put in so much hard work and took his Hebrew classes to the next level. He is, without a doubt, our Ulpan Mensch! We are so proud of you, Matt!

It's latke time in florentin!
It's latke time in Florentin!
Nethaniel, david and elijah light the candles in jerusalem
Nethaniel, David and Elijah light the candles in Jerusalem
Matt seigel, our ulpan mensch!
Matt Seigel, our Ulpan Mensch!

We know you’ve been waiting for it – our spotlight section on internships and volunteering!
Joel Nessim, our student from Venezuela, is doing his internship with an artist called Sol, where he gets to express his talent as an artist. He recently got the opportunity to display his own series of paintings, at the Tiny Tiny Gallery, along with artist Murielle Cohen. Wow, what an amazing opportunity! We are so proud of you, Joel!

Here are just a few of Joel’s art pieces

Gap year in israel - aardvarkisrael
Gap year in israel - aardvarkisrael
Gap year in israel - aardvarkisrael

This week Rabbi Liad wrote us something special, just for Hanukkah:

“We are in the middle of the eight-day festival of Hanukkah which commemorates the awesome victory of the small, rebel Maccabees over the far more numerous, Syrian-Greek army. Immediately upon reigning victorious, the Jews got to work cleansing the Temple which the Greeks had defiled. They found a single jar of oil sanctified with the seal of the High Priest. Amazingly, the small quantity of oil burned in the Menorah for eight days; was just enough time to make a new batch of oil.

To celebrate the miraculous events of those days, we light our Hanukkiot at the entryways of our homes. Interestingly, the Menorah of the Temple was lit specifically on the inside of the Temple. Why then does Jewish law stipulate that we light our Hanukkiot towards the outside of our homes?

This practice emphasizes a core principle of the Jewish faith. It is not enough for the Temple or our homes to be filled with light. We are called upon to be a light unto the nations. We must concern ourselves with not just our own well-being but the well-being of all mankind. As such, we must go out of our private domains and transform specifically the darkness outside into the light. As we light our Hanukkiot, we are reminded to reach beyond ourselves and our communities, until the whole world is transformed and illuminated with the light of higher moral standards. May we merit to succeed in this lofty mission and speedily see a new Hanukkah, or inauguration, of the Third Temple in Jerusalem.”

Have a great weekend,