Weekly Updates – Tel Aviv May 24, 2019
The Aardvark Tel Aviv spring semester has come to an end. Of the course of yesterday and today most of the students flew home, some of them went to visit their families, some went for a short vacation before making Aliya to Israel and some went to Jerusalem to prepare for the plus program as Madrichim in summer camps in the USA. It’s been an exciting and emotional week, please allow me to tell you all about it for the last time.
On Sunday evening, after volunteering and internships, our students met with their Madrichim for their one last activity/celebration together. Each group chose to enjoy their evening in a different way. Daniel’s group had a BBQ on Marcolet’s rooftop and enjoyed cooking and eating together. Idan and Avia’s groups chose to spend their last night together in different restaurants in the city and Tali’s group went to Shoham to have dinner at Tali’s family home.
Monday morning was the last day of the internships/volunteering, the students woke up in the morning and went to work for the very last time this semester. Many of them came back extremely satisfied and also equipped with an amazing recommendation letter from their employers. During the week we received many emails full of complements and praise for all of the students’ hard work and the amazing job they did during this semester.
Monday evening we met for our closing activity in the Moadon – “Aardvark Oscar Night!”. A few days ago, the students had to fill in a Google form and nominate their friends for different categories of award, such as the most punctual, the best cook, the messiest and so on… The culture committee took their nominations and used an online voting site that allowed the students to vote on the spot for one student out of four leading nominees. The students dressed up for the evening and two of our own students (Barri and Solly) hosted the event complete with an amazing script that they wrote that really summarized our semester.
It was an exciting, funny evening with a great atmosphere. The students’ reactions to the different categories and all the different inside jokes made it apparent just how well they know each other.
To end the event we asked the students to say a few words about the experience they have had. One by one they stood up for short speeches full of kind words for one another and expressing their feeling at the end of the program. It was a beautiful night and a great closing event for a great semester.
On Tuesday, we started the packing and cleaning process. We noticed that some of the students found the packing process to be very hard as it symbolized the end of the program. We did our best to support the students and after they had finished in the apartments, we met at the beach for a fun time together. We sat together and enjoyed some snacks and fruits, we played guitar and sang together, took some pictures and spent time with our friends. After some relaxing time, each Madrich gathered his group for a short activity at the end of which each student received a present. It was wonderful to see the students cherishing the time they have left with each other. Hugging, talking, and making plans to meet again in the nearest future. It was a nice break after cleaning and packing all morning.
On Tuesday evening, we had our final Parsha and Pizza of the year. Rabbi Marc taught us a little from the Torah portion of Bechukotai. This portion is famous for including what is known as the ‘Tochecha’ ( תוכחה ) which means ‘curses’ or ‘harsh rebuke’. These verses contain disturbing and frightening images of the destruction, devastation and ruin we face physically and spiritually if we do not follow God’s commands. Many communities throughout history have even adopted the custom of whispering these words when reading the Torah portion in Synagogue on Shabbat. We explored the important idea of reward and punishment and God’s providence and had a conversation about how much we need to sugarcoat our Judaism when we encounter things that seem strange to us, irrelevant or immoral. We then ended the evening, and our year, with a question and answer session that was no holds barred!
On Wednesday morning, we woke up early and continued the process of cleaning the apartments. The students put on some great music and got to work…
In the evening, we gathered for Aardvark’s final ceremony. As you can imagine, it was truly meaningful. Hannah Dannheisser and Yoni Ben Naim chose to tell everyone about their experiences through the year/semester, Dana Bederson from Jerusalem played the guitar and sang for us and Miquelle Taubman also from Jerusalem sang, and there was also a wonderful slideshow of the whole year.
To conclude, one student said,
“As everyone moves on to the next chapter in their lives, I want us to take a moment to appreciate everyone around you. Think about who has done something or said something that you still remember. Think about those who have inspired you and those who you have inspired. Think about the people who smiled at you when you were having a bad day. Think of those who you spent all night out with and all day in with. Think about the times that the madrichim gave their personal time to do something for you or your apartment. Think about the sacrifices that your parents had to make to send you to Israel. Now that you have thought of those things, appreciate them.”
I would like to say that it has been an amazing ride here with your children. Seeing them grow and take part in the daily activities, succeeding in their internships and volunteering, learning Hebrew and taking classes for university credit, touring around Israel and learning so much about our beautiful country from the trips and the lectures. And the best thing was, seeing them having so much good time together while dealing with all kinds of challenges in the program. Creating a great bond and becoming an amazing group, which eventually became a family.
Thank you all for your caring and involvement in your child’s gap year it has been a pleasure to be a part of their educational staff.