Weekly Updates – Jerusalem September 20, 2019
Dear Aardvark Jerusalem Families,
Another busy week has come to an end here at Aardvark Jerusalem and our students are slowly settling into our program’s daily routine. Now I will be happy to tell you about the best moments from this week’s activities.
On Sunday, we began the week with a new learning program. It is “Chugim” such as yoga, Arabic, Art, etc. What better way to start the week than yoga on the rooftop of our building, learning spoken Arabic, art class where you an express yourself, or learning the geography of Israel!
After class, our students went to their internship and volunteering places.
On Sunday evening, the Madrichim met with the students for their apartment meetings. The Madrichim made fondue with the students and the students shared their successes and challenges from the program so far.
On Monday evening, we offered bowling as an optional evening activity and it was so much fun that the students already want to go bowling together again.
Tuesday was Election Day in Israel. Therefore, our students were free that day and had the opportunity to explore the city and the country on their own. The results of the elections are very close between the two lead parties and we are going to have to stay tuned to see “aces” our politicians can pull out of their sleeves. Of course, this situation is also an amazing opportunity for many debates and conversations with our students. We discussed the elections in most of the academic classes and during our daily interaction with the students. This is an historical time to be in Israel and I welcome you as parents to encourage your children to explore this political tension, which will continue into the near future.
On Wednesday evening, we heard a fascinating lecture from Yiscah Smith, a transgender woman who previously lived an ultra-orthodox lifestyle and fathered six children while living in the Old City of Jerusalem. Now 65 years old, she is a teacher of Jewish spirituality and lives as any religious woman in Jerusalem. Yiscah shared with us that her desire to be “honest with God” compelled her to give up her old life as a man, but her struggle to accept herself took five decades. In addition to sharing her story with us and answering questions, she also read to us highlights from her book “Forty Years in the Wilderness: My Journey to Authentic Living.” It was fascinating to hear the sensitive and thoughtful questions asked by our students at the end of the lecture.
If you would like to hear Yiscah yourselves, check out her TEDx talk online by clicking here.
On Thursday, we met in the morning for class followed by internships and volunteering. In the afternoon, the students met with their Madrichim for a short apartment meeting to end the week and go through next week’s schedule.
Next week for our tour, we will be visiting Gush Etzion, having a Rosh Hashanah Seder, and going rock climbing!
One last thing:
On September 29th until October 1st we are celebrating Rosh Hashanah in Israel. We want the student to take advantage of the special holiday opportunity and spend this time with families. Especially the “Erev Chag” meal, (September 29th).
On Sunday, we will check with the students to make sure that they have friends or families to go to. In addition, we will help find host families for the holidays for those students who don’t have anywhere to go to.
I would like to ask for your support in this process. If your child has a place to go to for the holiday, please encourage him/her to invite one or two friends from the program. That way, our student will gain a meaningful experience from the holiday and also quality time with their friends.