gap year in israel

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

Shalom again from a rainy Tel Aviv!

This week, after a long season of droughts in Israel, Tel Aviv received over 50 mm of rain (enough to flood all of the streets and hopefully, help all of Israel’s farmers)!

We have been working hard here in our Tel Aviv headquarters.

On Sunday we hit the road with volunteering and apartment cleaning. The Mind And Body add-on spent the afternoon learning about Chinese Medicine techniques. In the evening we had a community meeting regarding the alcohol policy on the program. I would like to remind you that the policy of Aardvark is that students may not drink alcohol in the apartments and that even while drinking students must stay safe. Please encourage your child to stick to these rules – they are in place for everyone’s safety.

On Monday after internships, the students had Ulpan and their first academic classes of the semester. We are now fully in the semester’s daily routine with students engaged in academic lessons, ulpan, and internships. In the evening we had a “Master Chef” activity during which the students were divided into 4 groups and each group had to prepare a dish according to a nation: Italian, Mexican, American, and middle eastern food. At the end of the activity, the students sat together to eat wonderful dishes.

On Tuesday we braved the rain to explore the Rothschild Gardens in Zichron Ya’akov. We learned about the story of the Baron Rothschild and the way in which he funded and supported many settlements in early Israel, including Zichron Yaakov. We also visited the house and museum of the Aharonson family, one of the early settlers in Israel who fought to their death for what eventually became the State of Israel. In the afternoon we visited Ein Hod, a beautiful artist village founded in 1953. We saw some unique artwork that has been passed down through generations of artists living in the village and heard about this special place.

One artist performed a musical show for us with instruments that he had built himself. Our last activity of the day was a joint art production. As a group we created a mosaic of tiles – each person drew a bit on each tile thus creating a truly group art piece. We examined how different each tile came out and explored how dynamic our expression can be.

Wednesday was another day of internships and classes. The Mind and Body students did a yoga session at the nearby Naim studio. In the evening the counselors hosted Cafe Dilemma in the Moadon – students held round-table discussions on issues in Israeli society over tea, cookies, and shoko (hot chocolate).

This evening (Thursday), the counselors are having apartment meetings in which they are running activities to help to create deeper bonds between the roommates .

This week on Selah we had a Culinary Tour around the Carmel market. Food plays such a central part of Jewish culture and tradition and ‘eating Jewishly’ is one of our themes for the semester. Our guide began by asking the group to share ‘food memories’ and many spoke about home-cooked dinners on Shabbat. We noticed how many Jewish holidays are connected with food:

Hamentaschen, apple and honey, Matza and donuts are just a few examples. We then wandered around hearing about different Jewish communities from across the world and got to sample a great variety of different tastes. We ate Turkish borekas, Italian fried-rice, Iraqi zatar and Greek hummus. Some of us were even brave enough to try the Swedish herring! On Thursday we had our first Learning Space. Each week this semester we will be gathering for some great conversations and text study. We have 4 sessions in 4 hours on themes as broad as character traits, prayer, bible, happiness and food. It was wonderful to see the group studying and engaging with each other and their teachers and the semester promises to truly enrich the students’ Jewish life. Coming up over the weekend is our first Shabbaton. Once a month we celebrate Shabbat together as a group in a different place around the country. We eat, pray and play while experiencing the ways Israelis celebrate the day of rest. This week we are going to Moshav Shuva in the south – a community of neo-Hassidic, ecology-loving influencers and visionaries trying to make a difference as pioneers in the country’s periphery. It promises to be a special time for the whole group.

It has been a wonderfully rainy week, just in time for Tu B Shvat (the birthday of the trees) that will take place next week,

All the best,
Eyal Haim