gap year in israel

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Dear Parents.

We have had a very special and exciting week full of great activities that were enjoyed by all the students.

On Sunday the Sea Sports group had a work out session on the beach. The group decided to focus on the “Sports” part of Sea Sports. The Entrepreneurship group had a workshop with an organization called ITC – Israel Tech Challenge. The session was titled “How big ideas come to the world” and it focused on creative thinking and developing ventures

On Monday, straight after Hebrew class, we headed to Jerusalem for the opening event of “MASA”, which means “journey” in Hebrew. We arrived at the ICC in Jerusalem along with plenty of other gap year groups for an amazing and interesting event. After a quick meal, we gathered for a welcoming party with all of the other programs. The DJ played some music and everyone danced. The room was full of good energy and it was amazing to see how many young students decided to come and spend their gap years in Israel. Our students were amazed by the sense of community and they all felt like a part of something bigger!

Later we entered the big hall for the main event. After a few speeches, Masa presented a project that they had been working on with some of the gap year participants, including one student from Aardvark Jerusalem. In order to celebrate 13 years of existence, MASA has started a project to give bar/bat mitzvahs to a few chosen participants. If you want to watch the movie about the project please click here.

After the formal part of the event, we watched two amazing performances by two very famous Israeli bands. One was a trio called “Café Shahor Hazak”, and the second was a reggae style band called “HaTikva 6”. It was great seeing everyone dance and sing to the music, and the students had the opportunity to connect to some true Israeli music!

On Tuesday we went to Caesarea, which is located in the northern part of Israel. It was an awesome tour of one of the most beautiful and historic cities in Israel. Our first stop was at the national park of Caesarea. The park is home to the city’s Roman ruins. We walked around the ruins with our tour guide and managed to gain a real understanding of the different buildings in the ancient Roman city. We saw the amphitheater, the Taverna, the bathhouse and horse racing fields. It was interesting to learn about the history of the city and to see the preserved ruins. They really gave us a sense of how the city was built and how people lived their lives.

Later on, we went to Alona Park to take a hike in Caesarea’s aqueduct. It was really cool to walk inside the water in a total darkness.

Emma Segal described Caesarea as “One of the most beautiful and interesting places I’ve been to in Israel so far”.

On Tuesday night some of the students took part in the Tel Aviv night run. Despite the day’s long tour, they all went to run the 10 kilometer course. The entire city transformed into a big running track with DJs and water stops on every corner. It was an amazing experience for them!

This week in Parsha and Pizza we learned about the birth of Isaac and the destruction of Sodom and Gemorah. The Torah portion of Vayeira ends with the climactic story of the binding of Isaac. Rabbi Marc showed us a few comedy movie clips about the Akeida and after studying the section describing Abraham’s willingness to comply with God’s command, we listened to a few contemporary songs that play with themes from the story (Leonard Cohen and Israeli music legend Naomi Shemer were two examples). We spoke about different aspects of the story: Isaac’s role, what happened to Sarah in the story, and if Abraham was really prepared to kill his son. We ended by thinking about the important place the story has in Jewish tradition as a story about God’s mercy for his people and Abraham’s overriding love for God.

On Wednesday we gathered in the Moadon for one of the most interesting lectures of the semester. The man that came to give the lecture, named Gonen Ben Yitzhak, was a former agent in the “Shabac”, the Israeli secret service. Gonen told us the story of his relationship with the “Green Prince” a code name for Mosab Hassan Yousef (the son of one of Hamas’ leaders). The Green Prince collaborated with Israel during the first and second uprisings “Intifada”. If you want to read more about this story please click here.

The students were fascinated by the story and asked numerous questions about the Green Prince, the “Shabak” and the Hamas.

The Madrich on call for this weekend is Tal.

Next Week we are going to a place called Atachlit located in Kiryat Gat, for a meeting with the Ethiopian community in Israel.

I wish you all Shabbat Shalom!
Eyal Haim
Tel Aviv community Manager
Aardvark Israel

Gap year in israel - aardvarkisrael