gap year in israel

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Dear Parents

I want to share with you some of the special moments we have experienced here at Aardvark.

On Monday night we had a Workshop on “Create Your Own Sushi.” We taught the students that sometimes instead of hitting the local sushi restaurant, that instead, with the help of a few simple products from the grocery, that you can create your own amazing sushi roll combinations.

Though we have lived in Jerusalem for almost a month, on Tuesday morning went on a tour of Jerusalem. The students found it amazing that only 60 years ago, the city was so different than today. We started our tour in the Mamilla Mall. What is today a wonderful lifestyle center and outdoor Mall full of shops and parking lots was, as recently as 60 years ago, the border between the Jewish State and the Jordanian Kingdom; that this beautiful place was once the site of many battles between Jordan and Israel. Who would have thought that underneath the mall and in local gardens archeological details have been found about the soldiers of the Ottoman Empire who ruled Israel a hundred years ago? From there we continued on to

Then we went to the Museum of Underground Prisoners, which was once the main prison where the British sent the members of the Etzel and the Lechi who fought on behalf of Jerusalem. The museum we visited the cells that once housed Jewish prisoners. We saw how the tough living conditions affected them the prisoners, but didn’t break their spirit, and how, in spite of it all, they managed to escape many times and continue to fight for the Land of Israel.
We completed our tour with a view of a small model of Jerusalem today which is housed in City Hall in downtown Jerusalem.
It was amazing to see how the city has changed since the days of the Mandate how it has grown.

On Tuesday evening, we welcomed our neighbors-a group of six Norwegians who joined our program. Over the next two months we will tour with them, spend time in the evenings, and to get to know them better. We made up a game of Trivia about Israel and divided the group of Aardvark with the group of Norwegians. It was amazing to see how our students entered the competition with such spirit. I am really please to let you know, dear parents, that after a month in Israel, our students know the date when the Israel of Israel was declared (Yashar Koach!!)

On Wednesday, the entire country was sorry hear of the death of a major figure in the history of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres (z’l), our former president. On Thursday morning we got up early and completed activities geared toward the legacy left by Shimon Peres (z’l) learning some of his famous quotes, such as:

” The most important thing in life is to dare. The most complicated thing in life is to be afraid. The smartest thing in the world is to try to be a moral person. “

” Optimists and pessimists will die the same death, but they will live very different lives! “

” It’s better to be controversial for the right reasons, than to be popular for the wrong reasons. “

” You do not make peace with friends. You make it with very unsavory enemies. “

” You’re as young as your dreams, not as old as your calendar “

We then asked the students which quote they felt most connected to and how they can integrate the idea into their own lives. One of the students was especially moved to see that Peres was more than a politician, but that his influence was widespread into many areas of Israeli life. We all then went to the Knesset to pay our last respects to Israel’s 9th President, Shimon Peres (z’l). It was remarkable to see how many gathered from across the nation and the world to pay their respects and to see the unity of the Jewish people, especially evident during difficult moments.

For the past 2 and a-half weeks, our Military track students have been learning how to navigate, a skill usually only gained by army commanders. We learned the difference between a peak and a valley. Then on Wednesday we went on a hike in Gvaot Goral, where our students navigated through fields. It was beautiful to see how the students understood the contours of the field and the confidence they already gained with this new skill.

Next week we celebrate the Jewish New Year, Rosh HaShana. All of our students will be hosted by Israeli families and will celebrate this year Israeli style!

On this occasion I would like to wish all of you “Gmar V’Hatima Tova”. May the coming year will bring prosperity and health success.

Shana Tova and Warmest Regards,

Gap year in israel - aardvarkisrael