gap year in israel

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Dear Parents,

Here are the highlights from this week.

On Sunday we started the week with Purim vibes throughout the building! Everyone is getting ready for the festival working on their costumes and preparing for the fun week ahead. In our apartment meetings with our madrichim we continued to work on our Purim videos for the competition on Wednesday night. We can’t wait to see what each group has prepared!!!

On Monday night, after a day of internships and classes, some of us went down to the ulam where a woman named Ayelet came and taught us how to work with clay and create Seder plates for Passover. Even though Purim is a few days away, we are also starting to think about Passover and Spring Break. Many of our students created beautiful plates and we are excited to show them to you when they are ready!

Afterwards Nadiv Gold Edelstein said, “It was plain as clay that this was going to be a fun activity!”

On Tuesday we had went on one of the most important tours we do on Aardvark. We drove to the area of Otef Aza to learn about the geopolitical narrative of the area. We met with locals and our knowledgeable guide pointed out physical landscapes that have shaped our existence as the state of Israel.

We started the day at a watch point from Israel into the Gaza Strip, we were able to see the houses there including some used as Hamas headquarters. We continued to Kibbutz Gevulot for lunch and a discussion about living under a constant threat. We proceeded to Netiv Hahasara a community well known as one of the closest settlements to the border with Gaza. There we had an opportunity to hear a speaker name Roni, a woman who has lived most of her life in Netiv HaHasara. It was fascinating to hear that despite the fear and the difficulties that arise from living there, she and the citizens of Netiv HaHasar are still very optimistic and hopeful regarding making peace with the Palestinians.

On Wednesday, I held the monthly community talk with the group. We played ‘Kahoot!’ to see how much we remembered from all of the month’s activities. We then watched a TedTalk about how to try the things that scare us. The theme for March is ‘Breakout March’. This month the students are being encouraged to try something they have been scared to do in the past, or accomplish something that has been a dream of theirs. We look forward to seeing what the students come up with.

The students then spent the afternoon doing last minute preparations for the Aardvark Purim party!

On Wednesday evening, we got on a bus to Tel Aviv and arrived at a crazy party on a beautiful rooftop that was decked out with decorations. There were hotdogs, popcorn, cotton candy, fondue, and so much more. We heard the megillah and loved making noise every time we heard Haman’s name. We then watched the videos we made about the Purim story. First place went to Dorin’s apartment!!! We then moved on to the costume competition. Everyone was very creative and original. Some students dressed up as the madrichim (counselors), a dragon, and even Anastasia the Russian princess. From both cities, Jerusalem’s very own Jodi Shapiro came in first place!!! We are so proud of the time and effort she put into her costume. It was quite spectacular.

Afterwards Nate Solkowitz said, “It was the funnest Purim party I’ve ever been to, on the coolest roof. Wow. Just wow.”

Rabbi Marc said, “It was fantastic seeing all of our students, dressed in costume and holding their Purim Greggers huddled together on the roof listening to the Megillah being read to them from the scroll. We also collected hundreds of Shekels in charitable donations from the students for some worthy causes, and, and fulfilled the Mitzvah of Matanot LaEvyonim – Gifts to the Poor.”

On Thursday morning we made Hamentaschen, Ofek the madrich taught us how to make them and then we went to deliver them to the local old age home. We listened to Purim music, and for some of us it was the first time that we had ever made this delicious Purim treat.

One last thing, Mada courses finished this week, I would like to congratulate Noa Kurz for completing the Mada course. We are all very proud of you.

I wish you all Happy Purim and a Shabbat Shalom,

Natali Basel