gap year in israel

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

Dear parents

The week is about to end but before it does I would like to tell you all about it!

Last Shabbat we took 30 students away for a Shabbat experience on Kibbutz Hanaton. Selah, our Jewish identity track, goes away once a month for Shabbat but this time they opened their doors to the wider program. Hanaton was founded as a Kibbutz affiliated with the conservative movement but in recent years it has attracted a wide range of Jews from different backgrounds. Our theme for the weekend was ‘Pluralism’ and we met with speakers and facilitators from many different denominations. We held candle lighting with a post-denominational female Rabbi and then prayed in an egalitarian Minyan. After a traditional meal and Birkat HaMazon we met with a humanitarian rabbinical student who shared his take on Shabbat. Our beloved Rabbi Marc ran an outrageously fun Oneg Shabbat games session. In the morning we had a Kidush-Breakfast together with a session hosted by a panel of Kibbutz members (Conservative, Orthodox, and Secular) who argued about their vision for communal life. After lunch, we had a long session with a scholar of Hassidut as well as a ‘Theology for Dummies’ masterclass with Rabbi Marc’s wife, an accomplished philosopher and lecturer. We finished off Shabbat with a third meal (Seuda Shlishit) and a musical Havdalla led by Eliya Gelb and Sarah Pomerantz, accompanied on guitar by Tamir Cohen and Ilay the counselor. All in all, it was a stimulating and proactive Shabbat experience for all involved.

On Sunday the Entrepreneurship group had an amazing virtual reality experience. First, they had a lecture on the business side of virtual reality and the way it is affecting the industry. Then, they had the chance to experience a virtual reality device, it is similar to a video game but you really feel like you are inside the game. Later that week they had another entrepreneurship session with Rabbi Mark with the collaboration of “Beit Habbad” about Entrepreneurship in the bible. In the weekly apartment meeting the madrichim decided to address an important topic in Israeli society, sexual harassment.

This week the students on the Sea Sports program had a blast. On Wednesday they went rappelling alongside IDF soldiers near the city of Modi’in. They not only got the experience of rappelling, but they were also able to see active IDF soldiers train along the cliff. On Sunday the students went surfing for the last time as winter approaches. As we are entering winter, the students look forward to activities like 4-wheeling and other extreme sports. “I’m mostly look forward to 4-wheeling because it is something I’ve wanted to do my whole life,” said Nathan Solkowitz. Overall, our Sea Sports and Entrepreneurship programs have been very successful and the students are more than enjoying the activities.

On Monday we had our community talk. We went through the schedule and discussed different issues regarding the program. We also talked about the difficulties that sometimes start to appear at this time of the year. We discussed the meaning of the phrase “Waiting for the storm to pass? Maybe it’s time to learn how to dance in the rain.” The discussion helped us to find ways to deal with difficulties that may arise.

On the same day we attended an army ceremony at the Western Wall with our Marva student Benjamin Lefkowitz. He received, for the first time, his army dog tag with his name and army number. We are so proud and we can’t wait to be there for his next ceremony.

On Tuesday, we all fought through the rain and loaded the bus to go to Haifa. The rain stopped when we arrived and we all gratefully stepped off the bus and entered the Bahai Gardens, Haifa’s best known destination. We heard a brief history of the significance of the Gardens as a holy place for the Bahai religion, which is known for its inclusivity, we were given the opportunity to overlook the beautiful garden and the ocean under the blue skies. After the gardens, we went to the Stella Maris Church, where we saw the intricate art and place of prayer. Continuing the theme of experiencing other cultures, we then went to a nearby mosque, where we spoke to a representative of the “Amadia”, an Islamic movement, who explained Islam’s unique prayer rituals and traditions and then invited us to ask questions. Before leaving Haifa, we walked around a small Arabic neighborhood/shuk called “Wadi Nisnas”, where our guides pointed out notable art, foods, and aspects of the culture.

On Wednesday evening, we had a mandatory activity at the Tel Aviv Pride Center. There, we had a speaker who shared her personal story about what it is like to be both religious and a lesbian. She also spoke about her involvement with the Israeli government and how she is fighting to legalize gay marriage in Israel. It was a very interesting and informative activity, and the students asked many questions. Maya Eingel said, “Her story was very interesting, and I thought it was a great experience.”

On Thursday our culture committee planned a Thanksgiving dinner for the evening, and everyone who signed up is bringing a different dish. The dishes include turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, salad, and more.

Next Week we are having a two-day trip to the north. We are planning on hiking in the Galil area and in the city of Acco. It is going to be great!

The Madrich on call for the weekend is Sahar.

Have a great weekend and Shabbat Shalom!


Gap year in israel - aardvarkisrael