gap year in israel

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Dear parents and students,

The last week in Jerusalem has been very exciting. Here are some of the highlights:
On Sunday night we had a closing activity with the madrichim and all of the students. The idea was to look back at different moments from the semester and we used a number of statements to facilitate this. They were:

  • “Someone who made you laugh”
  • “Someone who made you feel special”
  • “A memory from the Sabbath”
  • “Something that made you think in a positive way”
  • “Someone that taught you something new”

We then asked the students to anonymously pick people in the room who fell under these categories, and then we all shared our memories and those special moments. Akiva Goldsmith told us how Shlomi Efergan really helped him this semester by always being so positive and bringing so much energy to the group and to every activity. It was a nice night to laugh, joke and remember the good times we had together over the past four months.

On Monday night the boys went for a guys’ night and played Billiards with Ofek and the girls went on an adventure that ended with ice cream in mammilla mall. The boys spoke about the future and what they want to do next semester. The girls spoke about the dilemmas that they face in their personal lives and how they grew from these experiences.

On Tuesday we split into apartment groups with our madrichim and had a fun day. Each group did an activity with its madrich and then some of us went to the zoo and some of us went and learned Krav Maga. At the zoo we met one of Ofek’s friends who is in charge of feeding the bears and showed us how it is done, it was a really cool experience. At Krav Maga we did a quick warm up, and then the instructor Danielle taught us what to do in different scenarios. We practiced boxing, kicking, and attack methods. We came out sore but feeling good and wanting to do more. We then met up and went to eat at an amazing restaurant in Nachlaot called Hummus and Tehina. It was an incredible last meal together as a Jerusalem family. During the day each Madrich took his apartment for some time to reflect on their experiences over the past semester.

Did you meet your own expectations?

Are you satisfied with the program?

Did you enjoy the activities?

Were you happy with the experience you had?

The relationship formed between the madrichim and the students is an important link to the program and the experience. Not only do the madrichim learn a lot from the students, but the students learn from the madrichim and create bonds that were not only for this semester, but that will last a lifetime.

For our academic programs this week, in Holocaust Literature class we have spent the semester reading about children who escaped into the forest during the war and tried to survive there. We read about it in Aaron Appelfeld’s most recent book The Man Who Never Stopped Sleeping, in Appelfeld’s memoir The Story of a Life, in the poetry of Paul Celan and in Jerzy Kosinsky’s The Painted Bird. The end of the year project was to depict “The lost child” in a work of art. Yaeli mixed collage and poetry to depict the harrowing nature of not only the child, but also the essence and devastating effects of prejudice. I am so proud of this work of art.

In conclusion:

In the last Hebrew lesson, we learned the song “עוף גוזל” that talks about releasing children from the nest, I think it is very symbolic and describes the feelings that my team and I have had over the last week. We want to wish everyone an incredible winter break, and want to thank you all for making this semester truly amazing. It was our pleasure to be your staff and we will miss you. We hope you have the best time in Tel Aviv next semester, making new friends and new memories, but don’t forget to come visit us in Jerusalem!

All the best,

Natali, Charlee, Dorin, and Ofek