gap year in israel

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Dear parents,

The final week has come to an end! While we are excited that the students will be continuing on their individual paths, it is still hard to say goodbye. We had an amazing final week filled with reflective activities and last-times. Some of the students are in the process of moving to Jerusalem for the next semester while others are on their flights back home for the winter break and their next adventure.

So, for the last time this semester, allow me to tell you about the week we had:

On Sunday the students began the arduous process of cleaning their apartments, returning borrowed items and packing their bags. The Entrepreneurship add-on had a closing session with Robert who has been their mentor throughout the semester. The Sea Sports group had a goodbye luncheon with their Madricha.

Monday was the last day of internships. Students said goodbye to their mentors and wrote letters to the people they worked with and received reference letters from their bosses. We received many calls from the different workplaces complementing and praising our students for their work. For example, one of the calls was from the Ironi Z School, a multi-cultural middle school, they called to say that Jordan, Spencer, and Brandon had made a very meaningful contribution to the students, to the school activities and the English tutoring.

In the evening we held the Oscars night where students presented each other with awards for achievements this semester. Earlier in the month the students received a list of categories prepared by the Culture Committee and they had to nominate each other for different awards. On the Oscars night itself, we used the internet game to choose between the top competitors for each category in real time. There is much to be applauded in completing a semester abroad and the students came a long way in achieving independence in their personal lives and in developing their inter-personal connections.

On Tuesday we had our final tour in Yaffo. The students had a scavenger hunt throughout the city that took them from the ancient ruins of the Ottoman castle to the old Armenian monastery, to Andromeda’s rock, and to the Abu Nabt fountain. We passed by the hanging orange tree which symbolizes Jaffa’s prosperity thanks to the export of oranges around the world. Wandering through the old city the students got a taste of what life looked like before skyscrapers took over the view. Standing by the sea they could see the old port of Jaffa to their left and modern Tel Aviv to their right. The tour wrapped up a semester of history and exploring in Jaffa, Tel Aviv and Israel.

In the evening Rabbi Marc presented the last Parsha and Pizza of this semester and taught students a famous Idan Raichel song (רק מנעי קולך מבכי) which draws its roots from the story of Rachel. We completed the book of Bereishit with the weekly Torah portion of Vayigash. It was a fitting end to the semester as it describes the blessings Jacob gave to his children and his hopes for the future of the Jewish people in the Jewish homeland.

On Wednesday the students awoke straight to cleaning, dusting, and packing. The apartments had to be returned in top-notch condition for next semester’s students. In the evening each Madrich took his/her students for their last activity together. Daniella and her students ate dinner together and reflected on the past semester. Tal took his students to an escape room built by an ex-Mossad official. Sahar and her students went to a trampoline park before ascending to the rooftop and watching the Tel Aviv lights through heart-glasses (holographic sunglasses that turn all the lights into hearts). Ilay held a barbecue with his apartment and reflected with them on the past semester.

On Thursday morning all the students vacated their apartments. They had breakfast in the Moadon and we sent each student off to his/her destination – Jerusalem, America, Italy, France, Switzerland, and more.

It has been an intensely wonderful semester. We are lucky to have had the privilege to be a part of the students’ journey here in Israel. Thank you for your cooperation, your support, and for sending us your kids! We are always happy to see past students again and if you are ever in Israel drop by to say hello.

Wishing you an amazing winter break and holiday season,

Aardvark Tel Aviv