gap year in israel

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

Shalom Shalom!

What a week it’s been! With what feels like half of our students in Ethiopia, Aardvark Tel Aviv has noticeably downsized. But what we lacked in numbers this week we made up for in spirit and activities.

Sunday was a great day of the regular internship program. At this point, all the students are settled into their routines and are doing great work. The Mind and Body elective had their last Chinese Medicine Session and it even included acupuncture and movement relaxation. In the evening the counselors met with the students and together they watched the documentary of the Green Prince – the spectacular story of a high-ranking member and son of a Hamas leader who helped Israel for over 10 years as a Shin Bet agent. They watched and discussed the story Medicine to prepare for Wednesday’s speaker…

Our Monday night activity was a great hit! The students learned about Israeli music from Ilay who is an aficionado of everything musical and Israeli. The students learned about the development of Israeli music and listened to selected tracks dating from the beginning of the State through to modern Israeli artists. They also heard some amazing cover versions of famous songs in Hebrew like the Beatle’s song Yesterday covered by Arik Einstein and Yafa Yarkony. If you want to listen please click here

Heidi David Said, “It was really cool to learn about the origins of Israeli music. I liked learning about the influence of all the others countries that made it what it is today.”

David Mosseri said, “The Israeli music activity with Madrich Ilay was really insightful into the blossoming and evolutions of different kinds of Israeli music, from Zionistic anthems to mainstream hits. We learned how the IDF bands and variety ensembles truly shaped music in this country throughout the decades, even to this day. Singing and guitar playing followed as great closeout to our activity.”

On Tuesday the students toured the Independence Hall and the Yitzchak Rabin Center to learn about the complicated and empowering story of Israel’s Independence and statehood. At the Independence Hall, the students were given a glance of life in Tel Aviv in the days before the declaration of the State of Israel. At the end of the tour, we sat in the Independence Hall where David Ben Gurion announced the declaration of the state and we listened to the recording of the declaration followed by the national anthem “HaTikva”. We all stood up and sang the anthem, it was a powerful experience. Rabbi Marc joined the students for the tour and then met with them for Parsha, Pizza, and shmooze.

This week in Parsha and Pizza we heard all about the mobile Temple that the Children of Israel were told to build in the desert. This Temple (or in Hebrew the Mishkan – משכן) was an amazing structure made with metals and wood and beautiful colors and Rabbi Marc pointed out how interesting it was that the Jews had to donate money and materials to have it built. Perhaps there is a lesson there for all of us about how involved we could all be in our Judaism and our spiritual lives. We used this as an opportunity to talk about philanthropy in general and why so many Jews are involved in giving and charity work. Tzedaka is such a central Jewish value and it was great to read some surveys and statistics about how much money Jews raise and contribute each year. We finished the evening by thinking about the two golden Cherubs that sat on top of the Ark of the Covenant. Why were these winged creatures to have children’s faces? Perhaps there is a purity and innocence in a child and this is what we want to remind God of in our prayers and service. Maybe children remind us of their parents and the relationship, love, and dedication they give and this also can be an inspiration in thinking about God’s relationship with us.

On Wednesday the students headed to their internships. The Mind and Body elective had a meditation session. After the day’s classes, all the students met Gonen Ben Yitzchak – the Shin Bet handler who worked with the Green Prince during his years as an agent. It was a really special opportunity to have him come and speak about his story. If you are also interested in the story, a full-length movie is available on Youtube (The Green Prince) and the story is also available as a book – The Son of Hamas written by Musab (The Green Prince) himself.

Mikey Szabo said, “I found the Green Prince seminar super interesting. Back at home, I was very involved with Israel advocacy groups such as AIPAC and StandWithUs and I was very lucky to hear Mosab speak as well. However, in that speech, I never got the chance to ask questions and speak about the experiences. It was awesome to be able to speak to Gonen and actually get an idea of what it was like from his perspective instead of just reading the book or watching the movie. This was probably my favorite Aardvark activity to date as it wasn’t only fun but also infused the education aspect in a truly awesome way.”

On Thursday the Selah track students met in their learning groups, Two of our Hebrew classes went on a Hebrew tour at Ben Gurion House and we wrapped the week up in anticipation of the Ethiopia students returning.

Selah had a really fun week. We took the train to Bet Shemesh and visited the Biblical Museum of Natural History – an amazing museum dedicated to exploring the animal life in the Tanach and Jewish tradition. We marveled at some incredible and rare exhibits from the collection that included live animals, taxidermy, pictures and objects collected from around the world. We studied the role of lions and cheetahs in the Bible and explored what makes animals kosher or not and how the laws fit in with biological and zoological evidence. The museum also focuses on animals that lived in Israel during the biblical period and the guide taught us so much about names and identification of animals. Best of all though was being able to play with the baby turtles, tarantula, and the python!

Thursday morning’s Learning Space began with a guided meditation about food and appreciation and Rebecca the Madricha brought us some yummy foods to sample. Later that morning we learned about the Morning Blessings and their significance. As it was Rosh Chodesh Adar we increased the happiness levels with an interactive fun session with Rabbi Marc about Jewish identity and began preparations for Purim with a study session on King Achashverosh.

Internship on the spot – I asked Alena Berkman to tell me what she’s been up to at Syte Ai, Alena said, “I’m writing articles for the company’s website, designing a graphic header for the Facebook and Instagram for Syte ai, and preparing excel spreadsheets and information papers for the mobile world congress in Barcelona for the marketing team.”

Next week we are having a Purim party with the Jerusalem group. The culture committee students are working on the decoration and games for the party and every group needs to prepare a video about one of the chapters from the book of Esther. It is going to be an amazing Purim here in Aardvark Tel Aviv.

Until next week,

I wish you all Shabbat Shalom




Gap year in israel - aardvarkisrael