gap year in israel

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This week on Aardvark Jerusalem:

We have now been living in Jerusalem for over a month and it is starting to feel like home.

Martha Stewart themed apartment meetingOn Sunday we decided to have a Martha Stewart themed apartment meeting. Hagai cooked pancakes with his students and Tally made brownies (in the microwave) with hers. Who said that having a home cooked meal is difficult? It was nice to see the students enjoying the homely feeling of Jerusalem.
Later on that day both the Jerusalem and Tel Aviv groups attended the Masa Israel “Back to Campus Event.” Dinner was provided for the students and they were given the opportunity to mingle with participants from other programs. Simultaneously there was an activity fair happening in the adjacent room with booths set up by about 15 Jewish and pro-Israel organizations. We all walked around, talked to the representatives, and even got some free swag! The next portion of the evening was table discussions. Everyone split up and went to have more comprehensive conversations with an organization that interested them. After a short intermission during which we were entertained by some beat boxers we split up again and this time the students regrouped based upon the university they will be attending next year.

On Monday we had a normal day where the students volunteered. The volunteer organizations are beginning to really get to know our students and give them more responsibilities and the students are really starting to appreciate the ways in which they are helping the community. Anna Kalik said, “I work in a horse farm and this week, despite bad weather, I learned how to saddle a horse and got to walk the ponies to the stable, establishing a connection as it muzzled its head into me like a giant dog. Now we are best friends.”

In preparation for next month’s Jerusalem marathon, Hagai took a group of us on a run. We started in our neighborhood and ended at an outdoor mall called the First Station, located at Jerusalem’s old first train station. We ran along the train tracks which, over the last two years, have been converted to a corridor park with a bike path and boardwalk. We zig-zagged through bikers and dog-walkers and took selfies that didn’t turn out very well. Aardvark treated us afterwards to some well-deserved smoothies. Mine was the best… just ask Miranda!

Sderot together with the Tel Aviv groupOn our weekly siyur we toured the city of Sderot together with the Tel Aviv group. Sderot is located less than a mile from Gaza. This town has suffered thousands of rocket hits over the years. During the tour the group visited the local police station and saw the different missiles that have hit the town in the past known as Kassam rockets. Toward the end of the tour the group visited Sderot’s sheltered playground which gave the group an insight into the absurd reality that children in Sderot live with. This whole tour was led and organized by the Sderot Media Center, a non-profit organization of citizen journalists that also serves as a news agency dedicated to bringing the voices of Sderot residents to the forefront of world news.

families who were affected by terrorist attacksOn Wednesday we got to know each other a bit better. “One Family” is an organization that deals with families who were affected by terrorist attacks. We did that by helping them pack “Mishloach Manot” (Gift Baskets( for Purim. While working we realized that each one of us had a hidden talent. For example Skylar can pack “Mishloach Manot “(Gift Baskets( in less than a minute and Kobi can tie a bow very beautifully. We managed to beat the record of Mishloach Manot by making 275 packages. Now thanks to our students 275 families nationwide will enjoy a nice Purim holiday.

Next week -Next week, we are going to the Abu Ghosh village just outside of Jerusalem to eat some of the best hummus in Israel.

Gap year in israel - aardvarkisrael