gap year in israel

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

Shalom Parents,

This week we decided to make some changes. Six students were chosen to replace the madrichim for the entire week. Tali Webber was one of them and she has written a summary of this week’s schedule:

“This week started with ‘Changing Hats’ where Noam (Ganz), Uri (Zerejeman), Tess (Bernstein), Noah (Kessler), Sem (Kotek) and myself were selected to act as Madrichim for the week. After being briefed each of us lead the apartment meetings for the students we were allocated to look after. The most fun part was that we got to choose the snacks and run the meetings.

Our biggest challenge was organizing the compulsory Monday evening activity as the new madrichim. We brainstormed what the students needed most and decided a fun break would be best. So we held a giant ‘Cards Against Humanity’ game with the whole group and brought everyone chips (french fries) and dips. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves and it was good to have a laugh together.

On Tuesday we had a very interesting tour of the TLV central bus station. Splitting into two groups we explored the secret treasures inside this unusual building. With a long history of thriving communities, the arts and even migrant workings flourishing from within; we grew an unexpected appreciation for the place. Due to only 40% of the space being occupied, artists (and certain wildlife) have created secret studios, theaters, performance spaces and graffiti exhibitions inside. We also learnt about the process of its construction and the social and economic effect it has on the neighborhood surrounding it.

Continuing with our Madrichim duties we also lead Wednesday’s evening activity, ‘Students Presents’. This consisted of two students (one being myself) leading two separate activities as part of our breakout. Alex led a Photoshop workshop and I hosted a debate about religion, identity and politics. I felt it was important to have a platform for a constructive debate about these topics as Aardvark has such a range of students from so many different places and backgrounds. Both activities were a success with the students and madrichim finding that they gained new insight and skills.”

Thank you very much Tali!

This week in Parsha and Pizza the group studied the Torah portion of Vayakhel-Pekudei. This double portion concludes a five-week study of the Mishkan – the mobile temple or sanctuary built by the Jewish people in the desert. This week we watched a short movie clip that helped us visualize the Mishkan and Rabbi Marc led a discussion about holy space in Judaism. The group learned a Midrash (Jewish legend) about how the Mishkan was actually built and this led to a conversation about the balance we all look for between the godly and the human. Finally, we explored the character of Betzalel – the man chosen by God to design the Mishkan. He was clearly a talented individual and a master craftsman adept at metalwork, precious stone cutting and fine embroidery. The Torah describes “Ruach HaKodesh” – divine inspiration and this led us to explore the notion of creativity and genius in human beings. The evening ended with the screening of Elizabeth Gilbert’s powerful TED talk on the creative process (Click here to watch)

In the Introduction to Psychology course, the students are learning personality theory from the psychodynamic approach. The psychodynamic approach includes all the theories in psychology that see human functioning based upon the interaction of drives and forces within the person, particularly the unconscious, and between the different structures of the personality. The different structures of personality are: the id, ego and superego. The id is the unconscious portion of personality {that contains basic impulses and urges} in which two kinds of “instincts” reside. The ego makes compromises between the id’s unreasoning demands for immediate satisfaction and the practical limits imposed by the social world, also known as the reality principle. The superego is the component of personality that tells people what they should and should not do. It is the process of internalizing parental and cultural values.

Last Shabbat Selah had its third monthly Shabbaton of the semester, this time in Tiberius. We were hosted by the Maimonides Heritage Center (Maimonides, or the Rambam as he is known, is buried in the city) and stayed at the Eden Hotel. Along with huge amounts of food and the traditional three meals, the group had its own Minyan for Kabbalat Shabbat. We sang songs and played games at an Oneg Shabbat and had a walking tour of Tiberius in the afternoon where we got to see the Kinneret. Rabbi Marc’s wife Miriam, a lecturer in Jewish Philosophy, ran a session on belief and faith before we had a group Havdalla. On Tuesday night at our Bet Midrash, Rabbi Eli taught us about the secret of Matzo and its connection to the Yetzer Hara (evil inclination). Thursday we went to visit Kfar Chabad where we had a guided tour of a replica of 770, the Lubavitch headquarters in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Selah also got to see a Matzo factory in action, hand making around 10,000 Matzos everyday for Jewish communities in Israel and around the world.

Before I say Shabbat Shalom, it is important to update you about two incidents from the past week that resulted in students being dismissed from the program. One student was asked to leave due to alcohol abuse. Another student was asked to leave for taking amphetamines (ADHD medication) without a prescription. In both of these situations the students jeopardized their health and safety and violated our Drug and Alcohol Policy. In addition to the disciplinary action which was taken, we also gathered the group for an open and honest discussion about alcohol. Together we spoke about ways the students can support and watch out for one another, the dangers of binge drinking, peer pressure, understanding boundaries, and what it means to be responsible with alcohol. The students were engaged in the discussion and took the topic very seriously, suggesting a number of ways that they can work with us to ensure students’ safety. Ultimately, the message was clear to the students that the staff is here to work with them, but there is no tolerance for students who endanger themselves or those around them. We highly recommend that you also speak with your child this weekend to reinforce these messages.

Last note
Tonight we are moving the clocks back an hour in Israel – meaning we earned another hour today 🙂

That will be all for now,
Until next time,
Shabbat shalom,


Gap year in israel - aardvarkisrael