gap year in israel

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Shalom Parents!

family reunionYesterday was a special day in Israel. It was Seder Night. Almost everything was closed (such as shops, restaurants, cinemas…) and everyone gathered together for a family reunion! Each family has its own traditions which often depend on where they originate from, some will hit each other with spring onions, some have a special food that they make for Passover (like my mother’s leek patties) and so on. If you are here in Israel during Passover you need to make sure that you have an Israeli family to be with!

The students, with the assistance of the staff, spread around the country and joined families in their homes for Passover – some with their own families, some with friends and some were hosted by the staff!

As you can imagine we planned for the final week before “Spring Break” to be intense and here are some of the highlights:

On Sunday, before inspection, Jonah Dafilou, Jared Mayer and their counselor Avi Aharoni went to play basketball – this was made special as after about 20 minutes of play a group of local kids asked to join the game. The students agreed and they all started playing together. On the way back they were so thrilled by the experience that they didn’t stop talking about it all the way home.

On Monday we joined the Jerusalem group for a two day trip to the Gilboa and Golan Heights. Before I share the group experiences from the tiyul with you I want to share one of my own.

special day in IsraelNoah Katz is interning at the Weizmann Institute helping one of the professors there. He is actually running some experiments which I can’t really tell you about, mainly because they are too complicated for a commoner like me to understand (but don’t worry, Noah will explain them himself in next week’s email after they are finished). Noah asked if it would be possible for him to join the tiyul later in the morning after he was done with his experiment and of course we agreed! If there is something we can do in order to help science we’ll be sure to do it! As a result Noah and I had a long drive to the north together in my small car.
To be honest there is no better companion than Noah (at least so far). We were driving and singing a mix of Israeli and American songs. We discovered that I know far more American songs than him but he knows a huge number of songs in different languages (Portuguese, Spanish, Russian, Polish, etc.)!
After the long drive the two of us did a short hike in Nahal Elal (נחל אלעל) which ended at a beautiful waterfall where we ate our packed lunch (burned Tuna, schnitzel, and rice). After lunch we went to Han El Al where we met the rest of the group.
Thank you, Noah, for an amazing time that day!

In the evening, after a satisfying dinner, the staff organized the traditional talent show which we do every year during the final tiyul. The students were pretty amazing! Some of them showed some actual talents while others prepared a show or a dance. Kerrigan Esses and Lior Bezakein prepared a beautiful hip hop dance, Shaine and Miranda won the prize for best pair in the program, Staci Pinkowitz read a poem that gave us all goosebumps, Adam Poisner read his second poem on Aardvark, Ian Kornfeld, Gil Cohen and Jonah Dafilou amazed everyone with their special talent of switching fingers from hand to hand and jumping under their own hands etc. There were many more talents which you can see in the pictures (due to the lighting our pictures are not that great but I wanted to upload them anyway so that you can see your children performing).

The prize for the best “talent” went to Ian Kornfeld’s and Jordan Stanton for their movie which was made with the help of Jonah Dafilou and Alan Knaani. There is nothing I can say that will help you understand better than seeing it.

Wednesday was dedicated to cleaning the apartments for Passover – it is a huge thing in Israel with everyone cleaning their places weeks in advance. The municipality adds extra days of cleaning services and additional trash trucks in order to collect all of the garbage that gathers in the streets.
In keeping with tradition the students did a lot of cleaning with the assistance of their Madrichim – I wish I could show you their enthusiasm for cleaning (well most of them anyway).

On the Mind & Body Track the students went to a lecture about “Positive Psychology”. They learned about the changes psychologists can make over time. The idea of Positive Psychology is to get the individual back to the “norm” in order for them to be happy.

On Wednesday the Entrepreneurship Track along with Mind & Body students met for a goal setting workshop. They were setting both long term goals and short term goals.

That will be all for now.

Shavua Tov and Chag Sameah,