gap year in israel

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Dear parents,

It’s been an amazing week. We have had a great time meeting your kids.

As you know, the students arrived throughout Monday and they started meeting each other and meeting the staff. For lunch, we went across the road to the local falafel shop, later on that day we had an activity, each madrich with their apartments to get to know roommates and talking about what each student wanted to get out of the program and we closed of the day with a nice dinner all together and a talk with Natali, the Jerusalem coordinator about the upcoming semester.

On Tuesday, we started off the day with breakfast all 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 where they had a taste of the Israeli culture and food. When we got back each apartment had a cooking session with their madrich, we taught them how to make a shakshukah, which is an Israeli dish and then we ate all together, for some it was their first time tasting the dish.

Wednesday -Thursday was our first over- night trip with the Tel Aviv group. This time we went to Midbar Yehudah (the Judean Desert) area. The first day we went on a short hike near Metzoki Dragot where at the end we rappelled down a cliff. Eitan Haviv says “The only thing you have to fear is fear itself or.. rappelling upside down and therefore I am currently fearless.” Even though it was a bit scary for some of the students, they really enjoyed it and had a lot of fun. That evening we went to a youth hostel in Arad where we spent the night. The students had an evening activity where they split up into groups according to where they came from and battled against each other to decide the best continent – the Europe group won by far.

The next day there was a choice of either the Masada hike or the Nachal Tamar hike. Ira Weiss said about Nachal Tamar “having done Masada in the past, that hike was different but totally worth it.

We closed off the trip with a float in the Dead Sea. When we got back to Jerusalem we went to Babette by Ben Yehudah street for some tasty waffles. Daniel Bard said that they were “magically delicious.”

Friday we had a session on the importance of volunteering and then they had time to prepare for Shabbat. Before Shabbat came in we went to the kotel for kabbalat shabbat. For Sean Kramer and Peter Wallace, amongst other students it was their first time. Peter says “when I looked at the kotel I felt that we are all just visitors in this world and the kotel will be there long after we are gone looking after humanity.” That night, we had Shabbat dinner in the Old City and walked back to the apartments.

On Shabbat day, the students split up into small groups and went to host families for lunch. Sean Kramer says, “I really enjoyed the food and hospitality shown to me by my host family, who were Olim (immigrants) from America for Shabbat lunch and I look forward to future gatherings with them.” We closed off Shabbat with a seudah shlishit all together and a festive havdallah.

Now we are starting the normal schedule, with most of the students starting volunteering today

Until next week…….

Gap year in israel - aardvarkisrael