gap year in israel

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

Dear Parents,

The days are getting colder here, and we finally had some rain on Aardvark Tel Aviv.

We had a great week full of activities and I would like to tell you about some of what we have been doing.

On Sunday, the sea sport took part in a volleyball game on the beach with some locals. Later that day, the Madrichim met with the students in their apartments for their weekly meeting. Daniel’s group had a tasty fondue and a discussion about their educational progress so far this semester. Idan’s group had a fun activity about group dynamics.

Jordan Green said, “During our apartment meeting, my Madrich Idan led us in a fun activity. He gave each of my roommates, and me, a tree with different numbers; each number corresponded to a person on the tree acting a certain way. Then, we went around and picked a number and person that corresponded to different topics Idan posed to us, from our internships to the food we cooked. I loved this activity because it gave me the chance to reflect on my feelings towards Aardvark and Israel in a unique and fun way. Additionally, it was cool to see how my roommate’s opinions differed or were similar to mine. Throughout this past week, my roommates and I have used what we learned from this activity to further our relationship with each other and understand how to can make the last few months of Aardvark unforgettable.”

On Monday evening, we had a tour centering on coexistence in the neighboring port city of Yaffo. We walked with a tour guide and saw local businesses, sculptures and the way two groups, the Jews and the Arabs, live in one city. In the second part of the evening, we met Ihab, a religious Muslim, who told us his story about growing up and how his perspective changed from one of hatred to one of inclusion and peace. His changed perspective led him to marry a Jewish girl and today they operate five multi-cultural kindergartens that enroll Jewish, Muslims, and Christian children, regardless of religion. Later, Ihab invited us into the mosque to listen to the Imam reading from the Koran. We sat on the carpet and heard the Imam, and although it raised some mixed feelings, it was an important experience and a valuable glance at a different culture and religion that is also part of Israeli society.

Noa Shagan said, “This tour was unique because we not only got to know the history of Jaffa but the tour guide explained it’s rich cultural history and we learned about its roots and just how multicultural it is. For many, the highlight of the tour was the mosque, we got to hear the life story of an active member of the Islamic community and hear about how his passion of connecting Muslims and Jews. Overall the experience was educational and interesting”

On Tuesday morning, the students gathered for a community meeting. We reviewed what we have done and presented next month’s schedule, which is packed with many exciting activities. We also discussed our monthly topic of “Multiculturalism in Israel” and used a famous Israeli song called “The Bumper Sticker Song” as the basis of our discussion.

After the community talk, we went to a museum called Dialog in the Dark. The museum is completely dark and meant to give visitors an authentic experience of what it is like to perform daily tasks with no vision. Within the museum, students followed a blind guide who took them through a forest, a market, a busy street, and even on a boat ride. We could hear the sea and feel the water splashing around us. It was a shocking and intense experience.

Justin Newman said, “The blind museum was an amazing experience, getting a chance to see life from a different perspective. Walking through the complete darkness and only being able to listen and feel my way around the rooms was something very new for me. I’m glad I had the opportunity to see someone else’s way of life and their day to day challenges.”

This week in Parsha and Pizza we explored the Torah portion of Vayetze. We heard of Jacob’s escape from his twin brother Esau and the famous dream he had on the way. We read about when Jacob met Rachel and how Laban deceived him, and tricked him into marrying Leah in her place. Rabbi Marc showed the group a few paintings by the great Russian-French Jewish painter Marc Chagall who completed a number of paintings around the theme of Jacob’s ladder. We learnt some of the symbolic interpretations and commentaries that have been offered over the centuries. One of the group’s favorites was an old legend from the Midrash that Jacob was being invited by God to climb the ladder but he was afraid to do so. Jacob represents the whole of the Jewish people (he is soon to have his name changed to Israel) and the angels represent the different nations of the world (Greeks, Persian, Babylonians and Romans). According to this idea, Jacob did not wish for the Jewish people to ascend to power and become an empire. One other more modern Hassidic idea is that the ladder represents the link between heaven and earth. Jacob was given a message about how to find balance between spiritual-purity and the physical-material world.

On Wednesday, we climbed on the bus and traveled to the north of Tel Aviv to go ice-skating. The students put on their skates and had fun slipping and sliding on the ice. It was fabulous to see them having such a great time. It was a fun and entertaining evening for us all.

Noah Spivak said, “We went ice skating on Wednesday night for the optional activity. At first, I was surprised to see ice skating being offered in Israel. The rink was in the amusement park and once we got there, there were a few people of eastern European descent who were very good. I was intimidated at first since my knowledge of ice skating is lacking, but once I strapped up my skates I already felt like a pro. It took a few rounds to get better and keep my balance but once I got the hang of it, I had a lot of fun. I even got to breakdance on the ice with one of the people who worked at the rink.”

On Thursday after volunteering and internships, the students came to class and had their first Hebrew test! We hope the students did well, especially after being in Israel for three months already.

Our students also had the pleasure of hearing from the Jerusalem Internship and Volunteering Coordinator about the incredible opportunities that await them in Jerusalem. There are a number of internships on offer including at The Jerusalem Aquarium, The Museum of Islamic Art, an internship at a Virtual Reality Technology Center located within the Tower of David, and many more!

This Friday, many of our students will be joining the Selah group from Jerusalem for a Shabbaton at Kibbutz Hanaton. We look forward to hearing from them about this amazing weekend.

Internship on the spot: Jordi Sachs – Peak State Performance

“Working with an expert in sports science, personal training, neuro-linguistics and post-army training in the Special Forces is an opportunity I am extremely grateful for. My internship has allowed me to further my knowledge of online sports training programmers, branding, and other areas. In fact, I’ve built an entire website from scratch that includes fitness, nutrition, sleep, stress, recovery and self-perception guides to help people when trying to achieve general health – a program that will be sold online.”

Next week we will have an amazing tour, right in our backyard – the south of Tel Aviv. We will explore the story of the refugees, which is one of the biggest social challenges facing Israel today.
Shabbat Shalom and until next week,


Gap year in israel - aardvarkisrael