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Weekly Updates


Weekly Updates – Jerusalem February 20, 2020

Shalom Aardvark Jerusalem Families,

This week the weather got warmer, and then got colder, and our students are praying that spring comes soon! However, despite the crazy changes in weather, one thing stayed the same: we had a productive, educational, and fun week! Here are the highlights:

On Sunday evening, the apartments met with their Madrichim to have an activity about being a “Rosh Gadol”, a Hebrew term which means to take initiative and be proactive. The students were presented with different situations that they might be faced with during the program and discussed how to be a Rosh Gadol in said situations. As part of the activity, the students had to pick one of nine famous people and they had to think how they would react in the situations, based on their characteristics, before discussing how they would personally act. They were challenged to think what the best thing is that they could do as well as the absolute worst thing. The situations dealt with issues of work at the internships, self-care, friendships, and apartment dynamics. The students’ eyes were opened to new ways of approaching situations and they are already utilizing the concept of being a Rosh Gadol in their daily life.

Meredith Halperin said, “In this week’s apartment meeting, we were taught about being independent and taking initiative in certain situations. All 6 of the people in my apartment were given a piece of paper with a celebrity on it like Beyoncé, Kate Middleton, Serena Williams, Marge Simpson, Adam Sandler, and a few others. The point of this was too see and think about how each of these people would react in certain situations. One of the scenarios we were given was how they would act if they got to their Internship and the person in charge wasn’t there. The best answer given was that people would call up their manager to see if there is any work for them to do or that had been set aside for them to do. The point of this exercise was to show us that in certain situations there is a way of doing things and that we should be able to rely on ourselves to find the solution rather than having to bother someone else with our problems like a child would.”

On Monday night, we all went to a pottery studio called “Kad Vechomer” for the week’s optional activity. The students chose from a variety of clay dishes to paint and take home. Everyone really showed their artistic sides.

Sylvia Miller said, “Monday evening, we went to pottery painting as our optional night activity. Sometimes the weeks can feel hectic, but with activities offered like these, it creates an outlet to appreciate who you are, who you are with, and where you are in the present without any stress. Sitting and painting with some of my closest friends brought a creative energy onto me that I didn’t even know I had. As one person painted a sun, another a flower, and myself, a bunny, I noticed it was a cute and simple activity, yet powerful enough to bring us even closer together, as we saw which direction each one of our creativities brought us. Painting with my Aardvark family was a perfect thing to do before the rest of a long week. 

As the semester is going by so quickly, I hope to remember and have more moments like these, that make me take a step back and feel gratitude for the opportunities, big and small, that I am given, and especially for the people I am so fortunate enough to experience these moments with.”

On Tuesday, we left Jerusalem to go to the Besor Valley, one of the largest streams in the Negev, the desert southern part of Israel. The Besor Valley is mentioned in the Tanach in the book of Samuel I when David destroys the Amalekites: “David and the six hundred men with him came to the Besor Valley, where some stayed behind. Two hundred of them were too exhausted to cross the valley, but David and the other four hundred continued the pursuit”.

We started the day by going up to a viewpoint overlooking the valley and saw for ourselves why crossing it was so difficult – it is huge! 80 meters separated us and the other side, luckily for us there is an amazing hanging bridge we could cross.

After crossing, we hiked for about 4.5 kilometers and witnessed that the valley is a natural barrier between the sandy shore area and the ground of the Negev. We passed through batches of plants and two gigantic trees that gave us some shade for a break.

After finishing the hike, we drove to the Eshkol National Park where we sat by the springs, had our lunch and made tea on a stove.

On Tuesday Evening, our Habonim Dror UK students ran an activity for all of the Jerusalem students! Addi Evans wrote about the activity:

“On Tuesday evening all of us with Habonim Dror ran a peula (activity) for Aardvark Israel. The peula incorporated the 3 pillars of our movement, Socialism, Zionism and cultural Judaism in order to introduce our youth movement to everyone on Aardvark. We planned a station rotation style activity with 5 stations. Our 3 pillars, environmentalism and Kef (fun)! Everyone took part in different fun games like Jeopardy, on the topic of Zionism, and Split or Steal, on the topic of Socialism, which also allowed time for the students on Aardvark to ask questions about us and our movement while also taking part in hot seat debates on the subject of ‘Should the Orthodox be the centre of Judaism’. In our Kef station we ran a fun game called ‘I am sitting on a chair and calling number …’ and in our final station, environmentalism, everyone had to create a rap or dance in relation to the environment. 

These 5 stations helped show just a few of the things we do in Habonim Dror incorporating the core beliefs of our movement and the fun we bring to it. We hope everyone feels like they know a bit more about us and Habonim Dror and enjoyed our Peula!”

Internship in the Spotlight: Hi, my name is Erela Janks and working in the PICO Kids Maker Space has been one of my favourite experiences while on Aardvark Israel.

Pico is a place of education and empowerment for school children through interactive experiences. The kids learn how to design and print their own creations on a 3D printer as well as cut their designs on laser cutters; they learn social awareness and entrepreneurship and how to work as part of a team.

During my time there, I have sat in on classes and learned along with the students and experienced the interesting lessons and activities created by the mentors.

I have also been given the opportunity to learn how to use the 3D printer, software and the software for the laser cutter. PICO allows me the space to explore topics that I find interesting and to pitch lesson ideas and help put together potential lessons. It is as much of a learning experience for me as it is for the students.

Next week, we will be having a salsa dancing class, an activity about the upcoming Israeli Elections, and hiking Masada and taking a dip in the Dead Sea! Looking forward to telling you all about it in next week’s newsletter!

Shabbat Shalom!

Natali Basel





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Tel Aviv 6610910
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Jerusalem 9462503

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