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Weekly Updates


Weekly Updates – Jerusalem March 12, 2020

Shalom Aardvark Jerusalem Families,

IT WAS PURIM!!! Purim is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the saving of the Jewish people from Haman, who was planning to kill all the Jews. This took place in the ancient Achaemenid Persian Empire. Purim is one of the most widely celebrated festivals in Israel, it is embraced by the entire country, from religious Jews in Jerusalem to secular Tel Avivians, and it is a time of festivity and celebration far beyond its original religious roots. Purim parties take place across the country, with street parties with carnival atmospheres taking place in almost every city, town, and village.

On Sunday evening, all the apartments met in the Moadon of the Ushiskin building for a special Purim activity run by our very own student Culture Committee!!

The Moadon was beautifully decorated by our culture committee to celebrate Purim and it definitely did the job of raising all of our spirits for this holiday!  A lot of our students arrived in full costume, and some of the apartments came wearing a group costume!

Devorah Branshaw led the activity explaining that all the apartments will be competing in a hamantaschen baking competition. They were each given a table with all the ingredients that they would need to bake a batch of hamantaschen, along with a recipe. The students went right to work mixing their ingredients, kneading and rolling the dough, cutting them into circles, filling it with one of the fillings they received, and finally folding them into the iconic triangle shapes that they are known for. Once they were all baked (or so we hoped), we gathered back in the Moadon for the tasting, which was done by our brave Madrichim. Even though not everyone followed the recipe to a tee, some may have undercooked their hamantaschen, and some may have added a bit too much butter, it was obvious how much work was put in and how creative some of the students were with their batches. We finished the flour, butter, and chocolate-filled (excuse the pun) evening with a costume contest to see whose costume was the most popular amongst the rest of the students.

Thank you to our wonderful Culture Committee for planning such a fun activity to kick off our Purim week with such positive energy!

On Monday night,  Purim began outside of Jerusalem! Many of our students travelled to Tel Aviv to celebrate Purim night there!

Jonah Katsenelson said, “This was the best Purim ever! It was my first Purim in Israel, and definitely not my last! The atmosphere, the costumes, the feeling of community – Purim makes Halloween look like a joke!”

On Tuesday morning, Purim Eve, we started the day with a mask-making workshop in which each one of us had the opportunity to create a mask for Purim. In addition to the creative process, we also discussed what it means to “wear a mask” in our real lives. What are the masks that we wear, when do we wear them and why do we think we have to put them on?

Purim is also the day when we give Mishloach Manot to each other. After mask making we sat together and swapped Mishloach Manot.  Earlier we had been given the name of another individual in the program or a staff member and had to get them a present!  It was similar to a Secret Santa, but Jewish and during Purim.  It was so much fun thinking about what another person would like and putting thought into our gifts for one another.  During the exchange, it was really cute seeing everyone’s smiles when they received their gift.

This activity definitely elevated the sense of community within Aardvark.  Experiencing Purim in Israel was another experience I’ll never forget, which strengthened my sense of community within the state of Israel.

Sylvia Miller summarised the morning, “On Tuesday Aardvark met up for a midday mask making and mishloach manot exchange session to celebrate Purim.  We all arrived and blank masks and decorating supplies were provided.  Activities like these, where we are given time to be creative and just relax, are so refreshing.  It was a wonderful way to kick-start Purim in Jerusalem after most of us celebrated the night prior in Tel Aviv.  I decorated my mask with half day half night vibes.  My friends sitting right next to me decided to swap masks and decorate the other person’s to fit their characteristics and personality, it was cute.”

This week in Purim & Hamantaschen, we learned the Purim story in depth and learned the 4 Mitzvot (commandments) of Purim: reading the Megillah, also known as the Book of Esther, sending mishloach manot, or gift baskets, the Seudah, or festive meal, and Matanot La’evyonim, giving to the poor.

On Tuesday evening, our students joined different synagogues around the neighborhood to hear Megillat Esther. Our students dressed in costume and really enjoyed making noise every time that we heard Haman’s name.

Isaac Schapiro said, “Purim was so much fun, all of us in cool costumes and everyone got into the Purim spirit, dancing, eating and listening to the “Megillah”. Purim in Israel was one of my highlights of Aardvark Israel so far.” 

Wednesday, was Purim in Jerusalem!!! The Hebrew date of Purim is the 14th of the month of Adar, starting the evening before. However, in Jerusalem and other “walled” cities, the holiday is celebrated one day later than everywhere else. Our students heard the Megillah, joined neighborhood families for the festive Purim Feast, and went out into the streets and danced with all the locals!

Gaby Sugarman said, “JERUSALEM PURIM IS AMAZING!!!”

Internship in the Spotlight: Hi, my name is Meredith Halperin and I work at Mayanot Birthright right here in the center of Nachlaot. My job as an intern is social media and blog posting for them but it’s so much more than that. As someone who can’t ever go on Birthright, it’s really interesting to see the other side of the company and learn what it takes to put on something as amazing as Birthright. I look forward to going to work every day because I know I’ll get something amazing out of it like writing fun articles for the new website or learning how to use different social media platforms in a business setting. Everyone that works in the office is so friendly and welcoming!

Next week is jam packed with paint balling, ODT, a BBQ, a lightshow at the Tower of David, a trip to Chevron, and more! We can’t wait!!!

Shabbat Shalom!

Natali Basel




Aardvark Israel Tel Aviv:
39 Levinsky Street, 2nd Floor
Tel Aviv 6610910
Aardvark Israel Jerusalem:
3 Ezrat Yisrael Street
Jerusalem 9462503

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