gap year in israel

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Hello parents,

This week in Jerusalem we enjoyed some phenomenal activities…

The week began on Sunday with the Sports Club and early on Monday morning some of us stayed up to watch the Super Bowl between the Falcons and the Patriots.

Alex Kaufman was very disappointed by the Falcons’ collapse while Julia Heineman was excited because of the win. The event certainly provoked a number of intense arguments over who should have won.

On Monday morning we all slept in as the game was so late. After classes we went to the night festival called “Shaon Horef“. During the winter the festival takes place every Monday on different streets in Jerusalem with different musical acts.

We went to some interesting parties and heard some great music.

For our weekly siyour we went on a graffiti tour in the neighborhood of Nahlaot in Jerusalem and learned all about the fabulous street art of the city. Through the art we learnt more about the political situation in the country and the different opinions of people in this diverse city. One of the students said that it helped him feel more connected to the people of the city. We also got to know one of the most interesting neighborhoods in the city.

We saw many beautiful art pieces and our guide, who was a graffiti artist, explained the motives behind each piece. While the streets were old and falling apart the graffiti was new and made the streets more vibrant.

Aitan Haviv said, “I never knew that graffiti could be so beautiful”.

On Tuesday night Aardvark was transformed into a café with the madrichim serving as waiters. Students from the Hebrew Union College sat in small groups with our students and discussed current Israeli, Jewish, and ethical dilemmas. For example, the question of whether a halachically Jewish man who became a Christian priest should be allowed to make Aliyah? (This is an actual occurrence from Israeli history.) While the room was filled with the voices of vigorous debate, our lovely staff served coffee and refreshments to each table. The relaxed atmosphere was extremely conducive to stimulating conversation.

We had a wide assortment of beverages and snacks including hot cocoa and chai masala but the main dish was meeting the students from the Hebrew Union College who gave us some dilemmas about the Jewish Community to ponder and discuss. Nikki Shultz said, “I had a great time discussing the dilemmas while drinking peach tea that Sapir made for me”.

On Wednesday morning we went to our various internships and college classes and in the evening we had our weekly Parsha and Pizza with Rabbi Marc.

This week at Parsha and Pizza the group explored the Torah portion of Beshalach. The weekly reading is packed with drama. The Egyptians pursue the Jewish people and God splits the Red Sea in two. The Jewish people are saved and sing out in faith and joy to God. However, this spiritual high lasted a very short time and the people begin to complain and moan almost straightaway. The portion ends with Amalek attacking the people. Rabbi Marc spoke about the importance of faith and the fact that when the Jews reached the Red Sea, they literally had to take the plunge into the waters before God would split the sea for them. We watched a clip from an Indiana Jones film as inspiration to think about faith. The group also discussed the role of Amalek as the ultimate sceptics and cynics. Their attack on the Children of Israel was as much spiritual as physical. Making the Jews doubt their own relationship with God was their goal and they represent a complete contrast to the Jews’ outpouring of music and song by the sea.

Best regards

Gap year in israel - aardvarkisrael