gap year in israel

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Shalom Parents!

A lot happened this week and there is so much that is going to happen next week so please make sure that you are comfortable and relaxed and I’ll give you all the highlights!

apartment meetingsOn Sunday, as usual, the students had their apartment meetings. As always most of them passed the inspection and a few apartments were given some tips on how to improve. The staff held another activity from the “My Israeli Journey” collection. The activity was about how we approach conflicts in our lives – with an approach of “I – It”, which is seeing only yourself and treating other people as obstacles in your way, or with an approach of “I – thou,” which is an understanding that the person in front of oneself is a human being with goals, fears and loves.
The discussion was really good. Some of the apartments gave examples from their own lives (which is always good) and confronted and reflected on some of the dynamics that have developed over time.

gap year programOn Monday our students attended a Masa seminar day called “When Values Conflicts in the Family” at the Yehuda Hotel in Jerusalem. We were joined by other Masa programs with many students from Australia and South Africa. The day was divided into several parts starting with speakers who talked about the rift in Israeli society and the Jewish people in general. They also informed us about what BDS is and how the rift among us is feeding it. We broke up into discussion groups to internalize all the information and share our opinions. After a delicious lunch (believe me it was!), we split up once again and everyone chose a field trip. Some went to Gush Etzion to meet with a settler and a Palestinian. Others went to Maale Adumim to see factories where Arabs and Israelis work side by side. The last group stayed in Jerusalem and heard from an inspirational victim of terror. Her name is Kay Willson (click here to read about her story – it is not easy). After we returned the students joined various workshops where we learned how to put our experiences and knowledge to use. Overall it was a very eye-opening and interesting experience and sparked many conversations amongst the students. The students and myself heard a lot of opinions from guides, instructors and mostly other participants.
When you have a moment please talk with your child about the day. Challenge them with questions and even give them your opinions about it. It is important to do this as later on in life they are sure to be challenged by these very issues.

disabled peopleOn Tuesday the students went as a group to take part in what is called the “Good Deeds Day“. Good Deeds Day is an annual day dedicated to good deeds. All over the world hundreds of thousands choose to volunteer and help others putting into practice the simple idea that every single person can do something good, be it large or small, to improve the lives of others and positively change the world (click here for more information).
It is a big thing in Israel; all educational institutes take a day off classes to go together, teachers, madrichim, students, etc. to do a good deed for someone else. Our Good Deed project was led by Sarah Lorant. Her internship is in a center for disabled people where she helps the nurses feed people and takes on whatever other jobs need doing. Sarah suggested that we do our good deed at her center because they need help with arranging and celebrating Purim! Without any hesitation her madricha Or helped organize the event. They all went together to the center and got involved. Some did Purim makeup for the patients and the students, some were making masks (Jonah Dafiliou won the masks competition!) with them and some were just sitting and talking with them. At the end of the day the staff gave the students popsicles (Artikim) – an Israeli way of ending something good.

One of our conclusions from the semester so far was that we needed to take the students to a cultural event such as a theater show. Avi found a nice comedy in English, performed by Anglo-Saxons who have made Aliyah. The wild comedy portrays the explosive fictional meeting between Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein, two young geniuses and the meeting of two minds you always dreamed of witnessing! Throw in some references on the theory of relativity, Picasso’s blue period, a bit of time-traveling, and Steve Martin’s Saturday Night Live humor and you have “Picasso at the Lapin Agile”!

On the Mind & Body Track the students met with an acro yoga instructor (which was me, I was an acro yoga instructor before starting to work with Aardvark). The Mind & Body group were amazing! They cooperated with some intense exercises and had a lot of fun!

On the Entrepreneurship Track the students went to see a play in the Na Lagaat center, a center run by the deaf and blind. The actors in this play were all deaf and blind and the show revolved around their lives and how they finding meaning. It was an extraordinary experience and something that you must see if you are planning on visiting Israel in the near future.

gap year programIn this week’s social psychology Dr. Smith discussed the principles of internal and external justification. External justification indicates that people give a “good” reason or explanation for dissonant personal behavior (telling a “white lie”) that resides outside the individual (such as telling a friend they look great when they don’t): this may be in order to avoid severe punishment, receive reward, not to hurt a person’s feelings or avoid something that might cause more harm than good. However, Internal Justification states that instead of finding an external justification for your behavior you will try to reduce your dissonance (discomfort about a moral issue) by changing something about yourself instead. An extreme form of internal justification is when a person changes their behavior to fit a situation in order for the lie to become the truth. This is called Counterattitudinal Advocacy.

That will be all for this week.
Shabbat Shalom,


Gap year in israel - aardvarkisrael