gap year in israel

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January 13, 2018

Jerusalem Weekly Updates 

Dear parents,

It has been an amazing week here on Aardvark Jerusalem. We had a great time meeting your children. Here are the highlights from the week:

As you know, the students arrived throughout Monday and they started getting to know each other and meeting the staff. We had lunch across the road to the local falafel shop and later on that day we had an activity. Each madrich with their apartment group to get to know the students and spoke about what each one wanted to get out of the program. We ended the day with a nice dinner all together and a talk with Natali(me), the Jerusalem coordinator about the upcoming semester.

On Tuesday, we started the day with breakfast together and then split up into apartments to have an activity on how to budget as an apartment followed by a tour of the neighborhood, showing the students all the essential places around the apartment building. The last stop was the local supermarket where we had our first shopping trip. Later that day we when into the middle of town to get bus passes and to have a tour of Mahaneh Yehudah Shuk using a very cool app called “bitemojo”. The application lists a variety of shops at the shuk and gives information about the place, who is the store owner and what’s so special about it. It provides an excellent opportunity to learn to communicate with local merchants as well as to eat very tasty food.and to have a taste of the Israeli culture. When we got back, each apartment had a cooking session with their madrich, we taught them how to make a shakshukah, an Israeli dish, and then we ate together, for some it was their first time tasting the dish.

Wednesday -Thursday was our first over- night trip with the Tel Aviv group. We drove south to the Judean Desert and the Dead Sea. The first day we had a hike through Nahal Og through desert wadis overlooking the Dead Sea. We climbed through challenging crevices and listened to the sounds of the desert. When we finished the hike, we drove to Kalia beach for lunch and a natural spa. For some of the students it was their first time floating in the salt and trying the Dead Sea mud.

The next day we had another hike in Matzada/Upper Ein Gedi. The students were given a choice of two hikes. Both hikes included steep hills and amazing views and our guides pointed out the historical connections we have to these areas.

Friday we had a session on the importance of volunteering and then we had time to prepare for Shabbat.

On Friday night, we all went to the Kotel (Western Wall) and for some of us it was our first time seeing the holy site. We danced and sang in front of the famous Wall, and even went down and placed notes inside and had a chance to pray.

After an amazing dinner filled with song and laughter, we came back to the apartment on foot and had a lovely walk with the Jerusalem breeze cooling us down, as we all got to know each other even better.

Shabbat morning we joined our lovely community at the local old age home for services and a Kiddush (food after services). Our amazing Rabbi Marc introduced our students to the community and even helped us to find families to host us over the course of the year for Shabbat meals.

After a delicious potluck lunch that the students cooked themselves (!!!!!), we had three sessions they were able to choose from including meditation and a basketball game.

Following that we had a seudat shlishit (third Shabbat meal) and a musical Havdalah.

One last note – Please be in touch directly with your child’s madrich/a. Please do not call the inquiry line. The recruiting staff is not up to date with the day-to-day welfare of your child, but their madrich/a is and are therefore better equipped to answer your questions.

What an INCREDIBLE week!! Next week is looking even better!!!

Shavoa Tov