gap year in israel

Check out our social media to see what our students have been up to this past week!

Staff members traveled to prague in the czech republic

Shalom Parents and Students!

We waited for nearly 3 years and it’s finally here — our first international trip since the start of the pandemic! This week, 14 students and staff members traveled to Prague in the Czech Republic. Scroll down to see all of our students’ adventures from this week >>

Jordan and jacob touring the city of prague
Jordan and Jacob touring the city of Prague
The former site of the theresienstadt ghetto
The former site of the Theresienstadt Ghetto

The students who travleled to Prague visited a variety of places, related, and unrelated to the Jewish community there. On the first day, after checking in, they took a bike tour in the city, had lunch at the Vltava River, and went to a Medieval Tavern for dinner and a show.

On the second day, our students visited the towns Kunta Hora and Kolin, where they the learned about the Golem from Prague, an ancient tale from the 17th century. They also saw churches and an old synagogue from World War II, that today serves as a Holocaust Memorial. They returned to Prague for a communism and bunker tour and had some free time to walk around and take advantage of the not-yet cold weather.

The trip continued with a visit to Terezin, where the Theresienstadt Ghetto was once located. They learned how the Jews in the Ghetto tried to maintain a “normal” life in the abnormality that surrounded them; they initiated their own art and drawing competitions, in recognition of the fact that Theresienstadt Ghetto was famous for its art, poems, and drawing pieces published years after. Moreover, the Ghetto was where Red Cross representatives used to visit, and Nazi soldiers falsely used it as an example of the “perfect” Ghetto, where Jews lived peacefully and happily.

Army. Oz at the ceremony last wednesday
Oz at the ceremony last Wednesday
They grow up so fast! Army
They grow up so fast!
One of our add-ons, Marva, includes a rigorous eight-week IDF Army Bootcamp. This Wednesday, our students Sebastian, Ariel, Bayla, Zachary, Oz, and Maya finished the first part of their army training, follwed by an emotional ceremony, similar to a Hashba’a ceremony in real IDF Bootcamp training. Our students get to experience the real deal; they are not allowed to carry their phones most of the day, they go through physical training, they wake up really early in the morning, and they learn about the IDF’s purposes and values.
Florentin boys at the city of haifa!
Florentin boys at the city of Haifa!
Levontin community at kol rina
Levontin community at Kol Rina

Our students who stayed in Israel (most of them, actually) traveled to three different places; the Rothschild community traveled to the Gaza border (they stayed on the safe side, don’t worry!) and learned about life in Sderot and Nativ Ha’asara, two of the closest towns to the border with Gaza. They learned about what it’s like to live under fire sometimes, about resilience and the desire of the local residents for peace.

Levontin community traveled to Lod and toured Ramat Eshkol, a mixed neighborhood with Jews and Muslims. They also volunteered at Kol Rina, where they selected and organized clothes for donation.

Jerusaelm community travled to Gush Etzion. They visited Gilo neighborhood, Alon Shvut, Kfar Etzion, and they met a Palestinian man who lives in the area. They talked to him about the complexities of living in this area, where the tension between Jews and Muslims is so high.

Last but definitely not least, Florentin community traveled to Haifa, to the Bahá’í Gardens, which represent the Bahá’í message of beauty, freedom, and balance through its aesthetics, design, and young history. They also toured the Wadi Nisnas neighborhood and Stella Maris church, up on Mount Carmel.

Our Selah students visited the Biblical Museum of Natural History. They learned about animals that are named in the Bible, which was quite timely as we are in the portion of Noah and the animals in the ark. The museum teaches about the animals native to the region, how non-native animals were brought to Israel, animals in Halacha and Jewish life, as well as the overall connection of Judaism to science. The students got to hold bunnies, hamsters, snakes (not poisonous, of course), tortoises and more.
Richie found himself a new friend!
Richie found himself a new friend!
Could you guess who's behind the hat? And snake?
Could you guess who's behind the hat? And snake?

We leave you with sone thoughts on this week’s Parashat Ha’Shavua:

“After restarting the Torah from the beginning last week, we now enter the Torah portion of Noah and the flood. The Torah states, “Noah was a righteous man; he was perfect in his generation.” If Noah was so righteous, why was he not chosen by G-d to be the first Jew? Why did G-d choose Abraham instead?

After G-d told Noah that the world had become too corrupt and that He planned to destroy the world, Noah obediently followed instructions and got to work building an ark that would ultimately save his family and all the animals. Contrast this reaction to that of Abraham with the city of Sodom.

Abraham is told by G-d that due to their corruption he intended on destroying the entire city. Unlike the obedience shown by Noah in immediately accepting the decree of destruction and working on a way to save his own family, Abraham puts himself on the line as he shows disobedience and argues with G-d in an attempt to save the people from the decree of destruction.

This provides us with an answer to a question posed in the last portion. After slaughtering his brother Abel, G-d asks Cain about his brother’s whereabouts. He responds, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” It becomes clear from the contrast between Noah and Abraham that the answer to the Torah is an astounding “Yes!” It is easy to cut oneself off from his fellow man and to disappear into an ark of self-preservation. What G-d desires is the far more difficult path, to be ready and willing to fight – even with G-d Himself – in order to save even a single life. We are indeed our brothers’ keepers.”

Have a great weekend,