gap year in israel

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Shalom parents,

I hope that this email finds you well. Here are some of the highlights from the past week.

Sunday was a relaxing day. The Madrichim met with the students in their apartment meetings and they reflected on the Shabbaton by playing some games and making use of various other methods to help the reflection process.

On Monday we had a karaoke night. It was really fun to just sing and dance with each other. We started with some modern hits in English, continued to some Hebrew hits and the next thing we knew, everyone had stood up and were dancing together. It was great to see them having so much fun as a group.

Kate Nasan said, “The karaoke on Monday evening was filled with lots of fun, food, and songs. I enjoyed every moment of it.”

On Tuesday we went to a museum called Dialog in the Dark. The museum is completely dark and meant to give the participants an authentic experience of what it is like to go through daily tasks with no vision. In the museum the students followed a blind guide who took them through a forest, a market, a busy street and even on a boat ride. We could hear the sea and feel the water splashing around us while walking around the market touching fruit and vegetables. It was a shocking and intense experience.

Juliana Mallis said, “Dialog in the dark was a really cool and unique experience. As someone with sight, I rely on it to do basically everything, so not having it while making my way through different rooms for an hour was very difficult. Having a blind guide take us through the rooms and speak to us highlighted how capable visually-impaired people are and how harmful the misconceptions seeing people have about them are. Blind people can do basically everything that seeing people can do, except see.”

This week in Parsha and Pizza we learnt about the Torah portion Emor. Rabbi Marc gave a summary of the laws that arise in the portion including an overview of the Shabbat and holiday laws. Most of the portion is concerned with the Kohanim, the priests who were to serve the Jewish people by administering the Temple service. We are told that they need to be in peak physical condition with no visible defects or flaws. This led us to have a meaningful conversation about Judaism and disabilities, inclusion and integration. We also learnt about the prohibition on blasphemy, and after watching a funny clip from the movie Life of Brian we explored the power of God’s name and its totemic power. Taking God’s name in vain and cursing God is the ultimate form of lacking appreciation. Blasphemy may also have such serious consequences as it revolves around a speech act. If speech is one of the things that makes us human and is seen as being a gift from God, then how can we use that very same gift to turn on the being who gave us the gift to begin with?

On Wednesday the Mind and Body group had a presentation from a leading yoga expert about the philosophy of yoga. They learned not just how, but also the why, when, and where of yoga.

In the evening the students met for a community meeting. We reviewed the schedule and presented the last month’s schedule, which is packed with many exciting activities.

On Thursday we wrapped things up with classes and internships. Mind and Body had an amazing experience at an animal therapy farm. They met an animal therapist who explained how creating a bond with animals can affect us and our ability to communicate and express ourselves. The students then got a tour of the diverse farm and even got to feed and play with the animals.

Selah this week had a really stimulating morning seminar about Judaism and Sexuality. We were lucky to have two guest speakers who provided very different viewpoints. Our first speaker, Rav Natan Alexander, brought us some Jewish sources from the Torah and rabbinical writings about commitment, love, and consent. Gila Manolson, an author of many books offering a Jewish take on romance, then joined us for a session about dating, intimacy and the laws of Shomer Negia. The students had a supportive environment to reflect on their own romantic relationships and could dream aloud about marriage and the future.

Next week we are going on a two day trip to Mizpe Ramon, there we are going to hike, learn about the importance of the Negev to Israeli society, and have some fun with the whole program.

Quick reminder: the second parents webinar in our series, on “Israel at 70: Achievements to Celebrate and Challenges to Face” will be on May 6, 2018, run by our Director of Education, Dr. Daniel Rose.

The session will last for 45 minutes. A link to the session will be sent in the days preceding the webinar. To sign up please go to this link:

Shabbat Shalom,




Gap year in israel - aardvarkisrael