gap year in israel

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

Dear Parents,

What a great week we had here in Tel-Aviv, despite the clock changing to wintertime, we are still enjoying, and taking advantage of, the warm “summery” weather.

Here are some of this week’s highlights:

On Sunday – Our sea sport group went for another exciting paddle boarding session; it seems that they’re becoming real pros.

In the evening, our Madrichim met with the students in their apartments to talk about the devastating Pittsburgh synagogue attack that happened last Shabbat. The students talked about hate crimes and anti-Semitism and the way it affects their lives and communities, they also shared their thoughts and personal stories about being Jewish, racism etc. After the activity ended, most students chose to go with some of the Madrichim to “Rabin Square” where there was a memorial ceremony for everyone that was murdered and injured in Pittsburgh. During the rally, the students showed great courage and initiative and spoke in front of large crowds of people about their thoughts and feelings following this horrific event. We, as a team, were extremely proud to see how they handled the entire situation and the way they spoke so bravely and maturely.

Anne Berg said, “This Sunday me and a group of others from Aardvark went to a vigil for the people who lost their lives in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. I went to the vigil to show that in times of darkness and sadness we all come together and united we send a strong message that no such crimes will be tolerated by anyone.”

On Monday – after volunteering and classes, the culture committee organized a crazy Halloween party at our Moadon. Even though the party was an optional event, almost all of the students chose to come and show support for the time and effort that the committee put into making this great party. Our decorations committee came early to decorate with spider webs, witches, pumpkins etc.

At the party, our very own student Josh Lousky was the DJ, he did an amazing job getting everyone happy and dancing for the entire evening. The students came dressed up and in a great mood; they were dancing, laughing and playing fun games such as ping-pong and foosball. On top of all of this, the committee arranged some fun competitions such as bobbing for apples. The party was amazing and everyone had such a great time, including our staff.

Jess Mandel said, “We had a lot of fun organizing the Halloween party and I think it went even better than we expected. It was really cool to see almost everybody there having fun, and I loved sharing our Halloween traditions with the staff and Madrachim. Overall a successful first event for the culture committee!”

Luca Perr said, “DJ Josh Luosky’s dominant musical prowess ensured that the Aardvark student body enjoyed a vivacious, raucous, if not downright wild Halloween party. The well-organized bureaucracy of the student-led Culture Committee ensured that all logistical aspects of the festivities went to plan. In conclusion, the Aardvark Halloween party was a stunning success, not just for Aardvark as an entity, but as a triumph of spirit for the conglomerate that is the student faction.”

On Tuesday – we went on a trip to a place called “The Olympic Experience”, in northern Tel-Aviv. The tour took the students on an interactive adventure around the 5 Olympic rings and led to some of the best moments from the Olympic games while teaching them about the Olympic spirit encompassing excellence, willpower, ambition, and the aspiration to arrive faster, higher and stronger.

This week in Parsha and Pizza we learned the portion of Hayei Sarah. The weekly reading tells us of the death of the matriarch Sarah and Abraham’s effort to purchase a burial plot for her. After paying respects to his dead wife, the narrative shifts to focus on Abraham’s son, Isaac and the need to find him a wife. Abraham appoints his servant Eliezer to devise a test to find him a match and with God’s help, he finds Rebecca at a drinking station by a well. The portion ends with the final years of Abraham’s life, with a new wife and additional children before he passes away. Rabbi Marc spoke about the theme of Hesed (חסד) – kindness. Kindness is the defining character trait of Abraham in our ancient Jewish sources and both of the stories of the Parsha support this. Firstly, Abraham goes to great lengths to honor his wife’s memory and insists on buying a burial plot instead of receiving it as a gift. In Judaism, the highest level of kindness is called Hesed Shel Emet (חסד של אמת) – the kindness of truth – and it concerns the kindness we do for a dead person. Indeed this is the only kindness we can perform that has no self-interest. A dead person cannot thank you for the kindness you have done. Abraham’s desire to negotiate, argue and pay for the Cave of Machpela as a burial plot is a symbol of this uber-Hesed. The story of Rebecca at the well is also about kindness. Eliezer invents a test to see if he could find a woman worthy of marrying in to the Abrahamic dynasty. He looked for a woman who would not only give him water to drink after his long journey but someone who would also care for his ten camels. The Torah describes Rebecca’s running back and forth from the well to the water trough. For Eliezer this was his sign that Rebecca would go over and above the call of duty and would expand her energy in performing acts of Hesed.

In the evening, we said goodbye to some of the students who flew to Prague with our assistant director, Shay-El, and the lovely madricha Tali. We hope they have an amazing time and come back with great memories to cherish.

On Wednesday night, we had the privilege to hear from one of the founders of the organization BKind.

BKind is a social enterprise that uses technology, education and unique tools to increase positive actions and interactions between people. They work with organizations, schools, campuses and families from around the world that want to increase kindness in their communities.

Each student received a BKind Card, which helps increase kindness in the world. They get passed from one person to another each time an act of kindness takes place. People pass them on as a token of gratitude or with an act of kindness they performed. After passing the card on, the student can keep track of where it goes and which good deed the people that passed it forward did.

Thursday was another day of classes and volunteering. In classes, some of the students are already beginning to take their midterms and we wish them the best of luck! In addition, tonight we have a painting class organized by Daniel, one of our counselors, after the students requested it!

Internship on the spot – Jonathan Nulman

My internship at Duco has been very interesting so far. I am in charge of communicating with potential business partners in Costa Rica because of my fluent Spanish. Because of this, my next project will involve market research in Spain and Latin America. I am currently working on a project in conjunction with the Israeli Ministry of Transportation; my role is to find and report on interesting and innovative startups in the public and private transportation sectors. It has been really cool so far to see that my work has a real impact on my company and on its future activities.

Next week we will continue learning about the different cultures within Israel and how they make up our pluralistic society. We will go on a tour of “Kiryat Ata”, a village where the Ethiopian community lives, and learn about their culture and challenges.

One more thing:

Our recruiting team will be spending the next month in the USA, recruiting for next year, so if you have any friends/family with 12th graders who might be interested in meeting them, please have them contact us at [email protected].

They will be visiting New York, New Jersey, Boston, Philadelphia, DC, Southern Florida, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Bay Area, Chicago, Dallas, Cleveland and Detroit.

The Madrich on call for this weekend is Daniel.

Thank you and Shabbat Shalom,


Gap year in israel - aardvarkisrael