gap year in israel

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

Dear Parents,

We have had a great week that was full of activities and I would like to now tell you about some of what we’ve been doing.

On Sunday, in the apartments meeting, our madrichim met with their students and after a brief cleanliness check, they began their educational activity. Daniel’s group had an activity involving mindfulness. After a short exercise, the students discussed the importance of paying attention to their environment, of being present in the moment and avoiding distractions so as not to miss out on important things in their day-to-day lives. In the end, Daniel spread out different pictures on the table that contributed to the emotional processing of the experiences the students have been through to date.

On Monday evening we had an amazing workshop with Simon, a physiotherapist, who explained to us how to enjoy eating and making healthy and delicious meals, how to sit correctly while studying/working, and in general how and when we should exercise to stay in great shape. Thank you to “Physyoutlv” Physiotherapy Clinic for sending us Simon for this enriching workshop!

On Tuesday we had a tour about co-existence in the neighbouring port city of Jaffa. The students walked with a tour guide and saw local businesses, sculptures and the way two nations, the Jews and the Arabs, live in one city. In the second part of the day the group met with Ihab, a religious Muslim, who told them his story about growing up and how he changed his perspective from one of hatred to one of inclusion and peace. His changed perspective led him to marry a Jewish girl and today they are operating five multi-cultural kindergartens that enrol Jewish, Muslims, and Christian children. Later, Ihab invited us into the mosque to listen to the Imam reading from the Koran. We sat on the carpet and heard the Imam, and although it raised some mixed feelings, it was an important experience and a valuable glance at a different culture and religion that is also a part of Israeli society.

Daliya Wald said, “On Tuesday we went to Jaffa to learn about co-existence in Israel. We were told a little background information before being taken to a historical ritual bath and a Mosque. Both were eye-opening experiences, but the Mosque in particular; the Imam spoke to us about the Mosque’s architecture and significance in its design, as well as the conversion process for people looking to adhere to Islam. We were also lucky enough to hear a small portion of a traditional Islamic text. Once we left the Mosque the Imam explained how he came to respect Jews and encourage co-existence after living part of his life with an anti-Semitic attitude. He now runs a kindergarten for Jewish, Christian, and Muslim children! We ate delicacies at the Abulafia bakery before touring the rest of Jaffa. We went to amazing lookout points and got plenty of photos before being dismissed to enjoy the rest of what Tel Aviv has to offer. On this trip, we learned the importance of acknowledging that despite Israel being the Jewish homeland, it is important for us to respect other religions and their beliefs and to encourage harmony in a world of baseless hatred.

This week in Parsha and Pizza, we spoke about the Torah portion of Teruma. The portion describes the design and planning of the mobile temple that the Jewish people took with them on their travels across the desert. It was called the Mishkan. The Torah describes all the materials needed to build the Menorah, the Ark of the Covenant and other utensils to be placed in the Mishkan as well as their dimensions. All the gold, wood, fur, cloth, silver and curtains were donated by the people. We spoke about the importance of spirit in donating and giving. The Torah describes the Jews as contributing to the building with “generosity of heart” and this led us to reflect on the billions of dollars raised by Jewish philanthropists across the world each year. Perhaps giving and donating is part of our Jewish DNA. Finally, we learned about the Ark of the Covenant and how it was covered with gold both outside and in. Some commentaries took inspiration from the Ark in that it teaches us to be consistent and make sure our insides match our outsides. It really can be quite a challenge to be authentic!  

On Wednesday the students headed to their internships. After the day’s classes, 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 truly special opportunity to have him come to speak about his story. If you are also interested in the story, a full-length movie is available on Vimeo (The Green Prince) and the story is also available as a book, The Son of Hamas, written by Musab (The Green Prince) himself.

Eden Shreier said, “On Wednesday night, we had an extremely insightful activity based on the documentary called The Green Prince. Prior to the activity, a few decided to watch the documentary, which told the story of a soldier for the Israeli secret service (שב) whose father happened to be a founder of Hamas. Afterward, we had the privilege of hearing from Gonen, who was an agent in the שב and handler of the son of the leader of Hamas.

This week on Selah, the group travelled to Bet Shemesh where they met the Jerusalem crew and had a guided tour around the Biblical Natural History Museum. This gem of a museum combines a passion for animals with exceptional insights into Jewish life and traditions. Through the wildlife on display (stuffed animals as well as live animals that we were able to handle), we learned about Kashrut laws and the Prophets who used animals as metaphors in their prophecies. We also had a chance to think about ecology, creation, evolution, science and the land of Israel. It was an amazing morning. On Thursday morning we had our Learning Space. Some of the group had a masterclass on relationships through the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. We also had a prayer session with a Jerusalem-based Jewish musician. The group continued its study of the 613 commandments and had an art activity highlighting their favourite Mitzvot.

On Saturday, our Ethiopia group will depart for the trip; we wish them a safe and amazing journey!

Internship under the spotlight – Taya Kalman

My name is Taya Kalman, I am from Melbourne Australia and I currently intern at the Bauhaus Centre. The Bauhaus Centre is an architecture powerhouse that focusses on the redevelopment and preservation of the Tel Aviv’s unique Bauhaus style buildings. I help by organizing audio guides, running to the post office and handling new shipments of stock. I also arranged a gallery that celebrated 100 years since the Bauhaus school opened in Germany. The Bauhaus Centre allows me to explore my future prospects of working in the architecture industry. In addition to a great CV, I am still amazed that I am on such a wonderful program where I am not only making friends from all over the world and enhancing my Jewish identity but also working in my dream field, which most 18-year-olds could only dream of.

Next week we will travel to Gedera to be hosted by the Ethiopian community, as part of our overarching theme of the “Multi-cultural society of Israel”  

The Madrich on call for the weekend is Daniel

All the best,



Gap year in israel - aardvarkisrael