gap year in israel

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Dear Parents, Shalom from Tel Aviv!

It has been an amazing week. We have had a great time meeting your children and I’m excited to tell you the highlights of the week. Here we go:

As you know, the students arrived on Monday and started to get to know each other and the staff. It was a long day of settling in and unpacking. For lunch, the students got their first taste of local Israeli falafel from the shop next door. When everyone had settled in, the madrichim played icebreaker games and met their “family groups” in their apartments. We had a fancy welcome dinner at Florentina and on the way there the madrichim showed the students around the neighborhood and pointed out the laundromat, supermarket, and gym.

On Tuesday, we started the day with a tasting tour in the Levinsky shuk. We tried burekas, marzipan, halva, tziziki and other local goods that trace their roots to Greece, Syriah, Morocco and the rest of the world.

When we returned to the office, the students had two sessions – one on education and one on ‘Tel Aviv How-Tos’. Later the students met in their apartments with their Madrich/Madricha for a workshop on budgeting and apartment responsibilities. At the end of the workshop the students went grocery shopping together and cooked their first lunch.

We continued the day with an elective session: a bike tour around Tel Aviv and a street art tour around the south of Tel Aviv. We ended the tours near the beach where the students were asked to write a letter for themselves, which included their expectations, thoughts, and wishes for the upcoming semester, and place it in a time capsule. At the end of the semester, we will open the time capsule and students will be able to look back at their past selves.

Wednesday -Thursday was our first overnight trip with the Jerusalem group. We drove South to the Judean Desert and the Dead Sea. The first day we had a hike through Nahal Og through desert wadis overlooking the Dead Sea. We climbed through challenging crevices and listened to the sounds of the desert. When we finished the hike we drove to Kalia beach for lunch and a natural spa. For some of the students, it was their first time floating in the salt and trying the Dead Sea mud.

The next day we had another hike in Matzada/Upper Ein Gedi. Students chose which hike they wanted to do. Both hikes included steep hills and amazing views and our guides pointed out the historical connections we have to these areas.

On Friday, before Shabbat prep, we had two activities: the first was a session on the importance of volunteering in the community. We discussed how we can contribute as collectives and as individuals. Our second program was a bit different and focused on a very important life skill in Israel – how to negotiate and get the best price when we want to buy something! 😉 . We all went to Shuk Ha Carmel and had a competition – the students raced to buy as many items as they could with only 30 shekels. The winners received a prize for their apartments!

Afterwards we had some time to rest and prepare for Shabbat. We met at the office for Kabbalat Shabbat. The student dressed up and we sang Shabbat songs and watched a reenaction of an Israeli classic “Hannahle and the Shabbat Dress” led by our Madrichim. As the sun set we walked along the beach to beautiful Shabbat services followed by a delicious dinner at the synagogue.

Shabbat was a relaxed day. There was an optional breakfast with Rabbi Marc, a potluck lunch in the apartments and a tour by Shay El and Rabbi Marc. Shay El led a tour in the historical neighborhood of Neve Tzedek and Rabbi Marc led a tour on the Israeli writer Chaim Nachman Bialik. Afterwards, the students chose from juggling, acrobalance, a discussion on the weekly Torah portion and yoga sessions for an afternoon session. We ended the day with communal Havdala in the Moadon and wishes for the coming week.

Attached please find the schedule for the upcoming week alongside with some great pictures from last week.

One last note – Please be in touch directly with your child’s madrich/a. They will be happy to chat with you and assist with any issue.

Shavua Tov!