gap year in israel

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

Shalom Parents!

On Sunday the students went all the way to Jerusalem to experience Lag B’omer in the best way possible. Jerusalem is well known for its great atmosphere during the holiday. As you approach the city you can start to smell the bonfires. At first, the students were shocked to see all the bonfires. From little children to adults, everyone was outside celebrating the holiday with a bonfire. Not far from our bonfire, a group of yeshiva boys was building a huge bonfire (3-4 meters high). Everyone was amazed by the size and heat of the fire. (We made sure everyone was far enough away from it – don’t worry!). We then started to light our own bonfire. The students were happy to have a barbecue with marshmallows on sticks, s’mores etc. Lag B’omer is a great time in Israel and I highly suggest everyone tries to experience it (just make sure that your windows are closed no matter where you sleep).

On Tuesday, the students went to Nahal HaShofet [The Judge’s Stream]. It is a green and beautiful location in the Menashe Heights. The area is special for visitors thanks to its clean air, the hills that are sprinkled with dreamy settlements, the seasonal blossoming, the deep pink of Juda’s tree during springtime and the many streams with their foamy flowing waters.

Eliana Cantor wrote the following about the Tiyul:
“We went on a beautiful hike through “Nachal Hashofet” (The Judge Stream). We stopped to play a few rounds of cat and mouse where Ricky (Studetzki) bulldozed his way to Josh Carr. There we walked passed many flowers and we came to a stop at this really cool oasis and got to chill out there with the waterfall, go in the water, and follow a little water trail through the trees. There was a cool group of girls that gave us all candy whistles. We had plenty of time to walk and see the beautiful nature and to hang out together! In the afternoon, before the sun began to set, we headed back home to Tel Aviv. “

Later on that day, Rabbi Josh Gerstein met with some of the students for Parasha and Pizza:

“This week I once again had the honor of being a guest lecturer for Parsha and Pizza in Tel Aviv. Instead of the normal programming, I led a question and answer session with the participating students.

In this wide-ranging conversation we covered such topics as: Conversion to Judaism, The Rabbinate in Israel and separation of “Church and State”, and the various differences between different streams of Judaism.

As with my previous visit, I was struck by the intelligence of the students and how they were deeply interested in taking ownership of their personal Jewish identity during their time in Israel.”
On Wednesday evening we had the opportunity to process, as individuals and as a group, what makes up our Jewish identity, such as actions, values, beliefs, choices and so on. We opened the session with an inspiring video call “The Tribe” which raised important questions such as “What makes us Jewish in the 21st century?” and “What does it mean to be Jewish these days?” Please click here to watch the video.
We continued the discussion and the entire session using Avraham Infeld‘s metaphor of a “Five Legged Table”. The metaphor describes a strong and stable Jewish identity built from five components, or “legs”, that combine to make up a person’s Jewish identity; Memory, Family, Covenant, Israel, and Hebrew. Click here to read more about his theory. It is fascinating!

Liora Katzew said the following about the activity: “A group of students met for an exciting and informative activity about discovering our Jewish identity. It was an incredible experience to be discussing our connection to Judaism in the heart of Tel Aviv with Jewish students from all over the world. It was very interesting to discover that many of us, although from different backgrounds, had very similar understandings and connections to our Judaism. A great sense of unity and pride was felt after the activity as we continued to think of our individual Jewish identities”.

Dr, Josh Helickman wrote about his final class on “History of Zionism: Through Sports” this week:
“To end the semester I took the students to my workplace, the Maccabi Tel Aviv Football Club and the training facility at Kiryat Shalom where they enjoyed participating in an actual soccer training session with our Under-15 Youth Coach Amir Sofer.

Amir who is now 28 years old was once considered a rising star as a youngster in our country but at the age of 18 he decided that he wanted to join the paratroopers in the IDF. By doing this he passed on the opportunity to receive a special dispensation that would have allowed him to just do a regular desk job in the army and continue his soccer playing career. Following his army service as a paratrooper, Amir returned to the soccer fields as a coach and today is one of the country’s rising stars in this field.
The students learned first-hand what it is like to be a professional player doing drills under Amir’s watchful eye while also playing in a unique soccer game with two goals on each side of the field. It was a pleasure teaching the students this past year as we delved into Zionism through Sports where we dealt with all of the personalities that helped make Israel the country that it is today! I can’t wait until next year!”

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

Gap year in israel - aardvarkisrael