gap year in israel

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Gap year in israel - aardvarkisrael

Shalom Parents and Students!

We are already starting the second week of the semester, and our students are feeling more like locals and becoming more familiar with their neighborhoods and their weekly schedule. This week, our students experienced their first Tuesday Tiyul (exciting!) and participated in bonding activities to help them to get to know their group members better. What did their rest or their week look like? Scroll down to find out >>

Levontin community developing teamwork
Levontin community developing teamwork
Jerusalem community in the negev
Jerusalem community in the Negev

On their first Tuesday Tiyul, our Tel Aviv communities went all the way to… well, maybe not so far – The Old City of Jaffa! The tour started at Kikar Ha’Shaon, the famous Clock Tower, where they learned why Jaffa is such an important, essential part of Tel Aviv, symbolizing coexistence between Jews, Muslims, and Christians. They learned about Jaffa’s history, then went for lunch at the beautiful, chic Flea Market (no real fleas, don’t worry). They continued to Neve Tzedek, the first Jewish neighborhood outside of Jaffa. As you can see in the picture, the weather wasn’t too bad for January!

Our Jerusalem community traveled all the way to the Negev (now that’s far!), where they enjoyed the peaceful silence of the desert. Their trip theme was ‘New Beginnings,’ as each student recently had their own new beginning in a new city. They visited Ben Gurion’s grave in Kibbutz Sde Boker, and learned about Israel’s first prime minister, one of the most important figures in the revival of the Jewish people in the land of Israel. After that, they traveled to Be’er Sheva, and visited Abraham’s Well.

Florentin community having their tu b'shevat seder
Florentin community having their Tu B'Shevat Seder
Ofir's group from rothschild at their first group meeting
Ofir's group from Rothschild at their first group meeting
This week, we also celebrated Tu B’Shevat, also known as Rosh Ha’Shana La’Ilanot (New Year of the Trees). On this holiday, we celebrate nature and Earth by planting trees, cleaning local parks, and eating dried fruits, which is meant to symbolize the loyalty of the diaspora’s allegiance, to the land of Israel. Our Tu B’Shvat seder was led by Paul, our Jewish Life Coordinator, who talked about the blessings of the seder, and then the feast began. We love dried fruits!
Big idea students enjoyed the opening event of impact month
Big Idea students enjoyed the opening event of Impact Month
Selah students on tu b'shevat
Selah students on Tu B'Shevat

Our Big Idea tech track students dived into Impact Month, in collaboration with Nefesh B’Nefesh. The students are working on an app that will help new Olim (immigrants to Israel) find events in the city, and later on – maybe even in the entire country! This meaningful, important collaboration will not only help new Olim assimilate into Israeli society, but will also give our students hands-on experience working with a real client while coding, designing, and finally – presenting a real product to the management of Big Idea and the Nefesh B’Nefesh staff. This week, the students went to Nefesh B’Nefesh’s offices on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv, where they will be spending most of their days during Impact Month. Elliot Kupchik wrote about his impressions from the first day: “To start off our Impact Month, myself and the other students were introduced to the office of Nefesh B’Nefesh, located in the heart of Tel Aviv. We met several experienced workers in high tech, who talked to us about our upcoming work and helped us get acquainted with the office. After these initial seminars, we set off to work, assigning roles to start the construction of the mobile app. In all, our opening day at Nefesh B’Nefesh was a nice introduction into the world of high tech, and has us very excited for the upcoming experiences we will have in Tel Aviv!”

On Selah, our Jewish Enrichment Track, our students learned about Tu B’Shevat! Led by Paul, our Jewish Life Coordinator, they discussed environmentalism, Judaism, and Israel. They started off with a Jewish debate over whether they are consumers or caretakers of the Earth. Then they planted some herbs and vegetables in small planters while learning about Shmittah (land sabbatical laws). They finished the day with a sustainability tour at Dizengoff shopping mall on Dizengoff Street.

Gap year in israel - aardvarkisrael
To wrap up this week, here’s a photo of Aiden, Danielle, and Hannah on the first day of their internship at Mochikva, founded by one of our alumnae! Have a great weekend 🙂