gap year in israel

Shalom Parents! Happy Adar!

The Jewish sages teach that from the first moment of Adar we increase our measure of happiness. Here at Aardvark, we are definitely lifting our spirits as we prepare for the crazy and joyous holiday of Purim.
After a long weekend during which the Ethiopia trip students relaxed and got over the jetlag, we jumped straight into Sunday with a laughing meditation workshop for the Mind and Body track that was open to all the Aardvark students.

On Monday we had a great day of classes and trips. In the evening, the students went bowling and were joined by Shay El for a wonderful competition. The students had a blast! It was great to just hang out and play together.

On Tuesday the students split into two groups and headed to the Palmach museum where they learned about the heroes who played major roles in the creation of this state. In each of the museum’s rooms the students could watch another part of a movie that tells the story of a Palmach platoon. The design of the rooms and the powerful story in the videos helped the students to connect and understand the whole idea behind the Palmach. It was a great experience.

Afterwards Remy Carr said, “While the Palmach museum gave me another piece of Jewish history, my enjoyment came from the audio/visual experience which highlighted the struggles of individuals not much older than ourselves during a time of war.”

The culture committee met to prepare the Purim party coming up next week. We are going to have an amazing party on a big rooftop in Tel Aviv complete with costumes, Megila reading, special videos that the students are making and more! I can’t wait to tell you all about it next week!

This week in Parsha and Pizza we learned about the clothes worn by the priests in the Temple. Rabbi Marc gave a masterclass in fashion as we commented on the textiles, colors and shapes of the outfit worn by the Kohen Gadol – the High Priest. We even compared his clothes to some of the fashion worn at recent award ceremonies (like the Golden Globes or the Grammys) and talked a lot about branding and celebrities. Interestingly, our Jewish priests were also interested in marketing and promotion but in their case, the brand was God and spirituality. We also learnt about the 12 stones and gemstones that made up the breastplate of the High Priest (called the Hoshen – חושן) and we explored some old commentaries on the cosmic powers of sapphire, ruby, amethyst and emerald.

Wednesday was a beautiful spring day. The students went to their internships and classes and in the evening, as a part of our Zionism month, we watched a movie called Beneath the Helmet that follows the story of five Israeli soldiers who leave their homes to serve in the Israeli army. The movie documents the training period and gives us a glimpse into the journey that every Israeli teenager embarks on when joining the army. Afterwards, we heard from a wonderful speaker, Avi Buckman, who told us his story about growing up in America, moving to Israel and serving in an elite unit. He told us some stories about being a Lone Soldier, his connection to Israel and his experience during Operation Protective Edge. The students then had the opportunity to ask questions and discuss, and indeed they asked some deep questions which lead to some inner thinking about the army, the country, and ideology.

Afterwards Julia Stenz said, “Being a soldier is more than courage. It’s sacrificing yourself for something greater than yourself. This quote accurately sums up what we learned and engaged with at our activity last night. We watched the movie ‘Beneath the Helmet,’ which follows the journeys of several paratroopers in the IDF – from high school students and citizens to soldiers. After the film, we were privileged enough to be addressed by Avi, a former member of the Maglan special unit. He shared with us his story and experiences throughout his training and service. This activity gave me new insight and a different perspective on what it means to be a paratrooper in the IDF. Definitely, an amazing tochnit leaving us all with food for thought.”

On Thursday we wrapped up the week with the Selah Learning Space, internships and classes. We’re becoming very excited for Purim with students baking hamentaschen, creating costumes and getting into the spirit! The Selah group will be spending Shabbat in Mitzpe Ramon, a beautiful desert oasis in the south of Israel. Have a fabulous Shabbat!

This week on Selah we went to visit Beit Tzvi – Israel’s largest drama school – based in Ramat Gan. There we met Oleg, a drama teacher who schooled us in the Commedia dell’Arte and the history of theater and mask wearing. We then tried on masks, developed characters and had a go at performing on stage. It was a lot of fun. After we finished Rabbi Marc held a Limmud session about dressing up and costume in the Jewish tradition, and connected it all to Purim and the Megilla. During Thursday’s Learning Space we took part in a questions workshop where we explored fifty different questions about Judaism. Each person chose their most important questions and we processed them together as a group. This Shabbat we have our second Shabbaton of the semester and we are excited to be staying in a very nice Youth Hostel in Mitspe Ramon. We are going to an Alpaca farm before Shabbat and will be praying Kabbalat Shabbat under the stars overlooking a crater. It promises to be a wonderfully intimate time for our Selah family.

Internships in focus by Indigo Penn:

“I’m interning at Duco, an innovative strategic consultant firm. Recently Duco ran the annual Global Innovators Conference, which was in Tel Aviv this year. I was in charge of handling the social media for the event. I had to interview various attendees, VIP members, and speakers at the event to gain perspective on their opinions of the conference, what corporate innovation meant to them, etc. I really enjoy networking and socializing in that particular work environment and look forward to working on future assignments within the company.”

The Madrich on call for the weekend is David.

I wish you all Shabbat Shalom and Happy Adar

Eyal Haim


Gap year in israel - aardvarkisrael