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Weekly Updates


Weekly Updates – Jerusalem December 22, 2019

Shalom Aardvark Jerusalem Families, 

I can’t believe that the Jerusalem experience will soon be over, but we still had plenty to do this week. Here are some of the highlights:

On Sunday evening, the apartments met with their madrichim for their weekly apartment meetings. The Madrichim made fondue with the students just as they did in their second ever apartment meeting at the beginning of the semester! This time however, instead of looking forward at their coming months on Aardvark and the first couple of weeks, they looked back on almost four months of living in Israel and how they have grown. Together with their madrichim, the students talked about how they have grown during the semester, what was challenging, what their favorite memories are, how their internships helped them grow, how they stepped out of their comfort zones, and much more.

On Monday evening, after internships and classes, some of us enjoyed a night at the movies! We went to see the movie “Frozen II”! We don’t want to give away any spoilers, so we won’t tell you about the movie, but we highly recommend that you go and see it!! For many of us, it was our first time in a movie theatre in Israel and that was an experience within itself. One of the highlights was seeing the Hebrew subtitles on the movie and actually being able to read them and understand! 

Max Rudick said, “I have learned so much in Ulpan that I was able to follow along for parts of the Hebrew subtitles! It’s amazing for me to see how much Hebrew I’ve picked up in only four months here! And my favourite part of the movie was Olaf.”

On Tuesday’s Tiyul, we went to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum. We split into two groups. One group consisted of students who had been to Yad Vashem before and the other group was students who had never been. We walked through the museum learning about the Holocaust and saw the atrocities of what happened. We were shocked by what we saw and moved by what we were experiencing. 

In the afternoon, we went to Mount Herzl – the home of Israel’s national cemetery and other memorial and educational facilities, found on the west side of Jerusalem. We asked some students to write a few words about the people that are buried on Mount Herzl – soldiers and important figures from Israel’s history. 

At Har Herzl, Jono Levit said the following: 

“Michael Levin was the gold standard for what a lone soldier should be. He represented the qualities and values that lone soldiers strive to embody. In 2006, Michael Levin was home visiting family for a wedding when he heard that his Tsevet was being deployed into Lebanon. Immediately Michael requested that he could return to his Tsevet and meet them in Lebanon. After long hours of begging his commander to allow him to rejoin his team, his commander adhered to his request. Unfortunately, Michael and his team took heavy fire in a town in Lebanon by Hezbollah fighters and Michael was killed. 

Whether you are a soldier or not, we can all learn something from Michael Levin’s story; sacrifice. At some point in all of our lives, we will receive our calling card. This will be a hard decision to make, but ultimately it’s up to us to step up and do the right thing like Michael did. The only person that can stop you from doing the right thing in life is you. We all are born with the capacity to make good decisions, but more importantly, we are all born with the ability to do something for the greater good. When you are faced with a hard decision later in life (and there will be many) step up, accept the challenge and do what’s right. 

Because of Michael and his dream, today we have the Lone Soldier Center and Tsevet Mikey. Both places serve as teaching grounds that help all current and future lone soldiers adopt the mind-set that Michael Levin set the standard for. Today he lives on through both the center and Tsevet Mikey where adults who have already been through the army instil the knowledge of their service and lend a helping hand to those in, and planning to join the IDF. I’m happy to be a part of both these amazing organizations and am proud to say that Michael Levin’s life story inspires me each and every day. His legacy helps to provide lone Soldiers with inspiration and strength to defend the state of Israel. 

From all current lone soldiers, and future lone soldiers, we say thank you to Michael and his heroics.”

On Tuesday evening, we gathered in the Moadon of the building to meet Madrich Rafi for an activity about the IDF code of ethics. The students walked into the room to find cards spread out on the floor, each with one of the 10 values that every soldier in the IDF lives by. One at a time, the students read out the values for everyone to hear, before splitting up into smaller groups to discuss some question regarding the code. The groups talked about how Judaism can be seen in the ethics code, what they would change if they could, what values might be harder to implement and whether or not that changes during a time of war. As we regrouped, the students had the chance to customize their own dog-tags with the value that they connect with the most, as well as the value that they would like to adopt. We finished with a Q&A panel with some of the staff where the students asked questions they had about the IDF and National Service.

Ella Newell said, “For army night we got to learn about the values the IDF soldiers uphold. Then, we discussed these values and got to ask our madrachim about their experience in the army or national service. It is crazy to think that people my age are currently defending their country and bettering their country through community service. To have that much responsibility on their shoulders at such a young age sounds scary, but they still have such a positive attitude and it gave me perspective on life in Israel.”

On Thursday, Amit Harir finished the Marva Military program! We are so proud of him for finishing the course! We are so excited to have him back with us now!

This week on Selah: This week in Selah we focused on “Who Wrote the Torah?” and “What makes a text holy?”

On Monday, we visited the Israel Museum, with a particular focus on The Dead Sea scrolls. We learned about the ancient tribe in the desert and the discovery of the scrolls in the mountains of Judean Desert in the 19th century. After the museum, we visited Israel’s National Library, where they store collections of ancient Jewish texts from all over the world. We got a private tour of one of the Kabbalist collections from the Gershom Scholem. 

On Thursday, we covered the subject from a more theological perspective with a documentary called “The Exodus Decoded”, which explains scientifically how the exodus from Egypt would have occurred.

To end the day, we got a special class from Pardes faculty, Howard Markose, who is an expert on the subject of “Who Wrote the Bible?” He enlightened us and taught us about various documentary theories, which were interesting to learn about.

We look forward to our last Shabbaton of the semester, in Efrat!  

Internship in the Spotlight: Hi! My name is Ellior Horowitz and for the first semester of Aardvark 2019, I have been interning at the Argos Veterinary Clinic. I have wanted to be a veterinarian for my entire life and Aardvark has given me the amazing opportunity to gain work experience in the career of my dreams. In America, I would not be given this chance but in Israel, on Aardvarks program, I am able to learn on the job about what it takes to be a veterinarian. My employers are very helpful and explain what goes on in the workplace. They have shown me x-rays and taught me how to give vaccinations to cats, as well as allowing me to observe surgeries on animals. I have even participated in a surgical procedure, watching a dog’s breathe while it was under anaesthesia. This internship has really made an impact on me and made my time in Israel exceptional. Aardvark has allowed me to live like a local, and work the way I want.

Next week, we will be having our final days of classes and internships, a two-day trip to Akko, and a Chanukiah tour in Nachlaot!

Shabbat Shalom!

Natali Basel



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Tel Aviv 6610910
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Jerusalem 9462503

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