gap year in israel

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Dear parents,

Here are our weekly highlights from Jerusalem:

On Sunday afternoon we held the first culture committee meeting. The culture committee consists of students with ideas and the desire to help their peers make the most of their time in Jerusalem. They help plan activities on weekends and throughout the semester. We are excited to see what they come up with!

On Sunday evening, at the apartment meetings, we prepared for a political debate. We went over the pertinent information, worked on our video presentations and made our posters.

On Monday night, after a regular day of internship and academics, we visited the amazing Tower of David Light Show and saw the history of Jerusalem played out in front of our eyes on the walls of the Old City. It was an exciting and new way to see the history that we have learned about all our lives. Afterwards Ellie Shivoitz said, “Seeing the history of Israel, and especially Jerusalem, played out in lights on the walls of the Old City was so incredible and breathtaking.”

On Tuesday we went on a tour of the Menachem Begin Museum. It began with a presentation of the ancient burial caves just behind the museum, which date back to the First Temple period. The juxtaposition of ancient and modern history is everywhere in Jerusalem. We continued the tour inside the museum. Some of the exhibits we enjoyed the most were the collection of old videos and the model of Begin’s old safe house and apartment. The tour was led by a terrific guide who walked us through the different exhibitions. We learned about Begin’s life and the events that shaped his ideas and thoughts. We were shown his fascinating journey from Russia, to Poland, and finally to Israel where he lead the underground organization, the Irgun (also known as the Etzel), prior to the establishment of the State of Israel, and finally his work as the sixth Prime Minister of Israel. It was fascinating to learn about both the man and his legacy. Afterwards Jodi Shapiro said, “I always walk past the Begin Museum and it was so interesting to finally go inside and learn the history of Menachem Begin.”

On Tuesday night we had elections! To conclude our Politics Month the students spent the day preparing for the elections and in the evening, the students held a debate between their apartments’ selected Knesset parties. Everyone came to the debate full of information and dressed as what their parties represent. Each party presented their video and their poster and everyone was incredibly creative. We learned so much from the students and we were so proud of the research, effort and time they put into the debate. In the end Yisrael Beiteinu won with Beit HaYehudi coming in a close second!!! Brandon Troy said, “This was the best activity we have had so far! I learned a lot and had a really fun time. I Never thought I would find politics to be fun!”

Internship in the Spotlight: I volunteer at Reuveni’s Nursery. I was walking by and discovered the nursery by chance, and I felt that I was meant to be there every day. Reuveni is the sweetest little old man who has lived in the same property his entire life. His family walked to Israel from Iran. I have tea with him every morning and he gave me a bike that I use every day to get there. I assist with sales, ensure that the plants stay healthy and the property is maintained. I’ve also been working on becoming a better photographer, the garden’s beauty inspires me so much and offers so many opportunities. Being in nature every day is so relaxing and it feels good to be planting every day in Israel and really helping ‘settle the land’ and giving back to this country that I have come to love.” Dani Garnel

This week in Parsha and Pizza we learnt about the clothes worn by the priests in the Temple. Rabbi Marc gave a masterclass in fashion as we commented on the textiles, colors and shapes of the outfit worn by the Kohen Gadol – the High Priest. We even compared his clothes to some of the fashion worn at recent award ceremonies (like the Golden Globes or the Grammys) and talked a lot about branding and celebrities. Interestingly, our Jewish priests were also interested in marketing and promotion but in their case, the brand was God and spirituality. We also learnt about the 12 stones and gemstones that made up the breastplate of the High Priest (called the Hoshen – חושן) and we explored some old commentaries on the cosmic powers of sapphire, ruby, amethyst and emerald.

Next week: we are going to celebrate Purim together with all the people of Israel.

Have a pleasant weekend and Shabbat Shalom,



Gap year in israel - aardvarkisrael