gap year in israel

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

Dear Parents,

This week was lots of fun and I have so much to tell you. So let’s get started.

On Sunday we said goodbye to the students who departed for a week-long trip in China. We have been receiving photos and they are having the most amazing time!

Our sea sport group had a wonderful surfing session thanks to the perfect weather this week.

Alex Fogel said, “We had a great week in Sea Sports! On Sunday we went surfing and the waves were perfect. We’re definitely seeing some improvements in our skills, and now we’re starting to be able to catch waves on our own! On Wednesday, we learned how to windsurf. It was new for all of us but I think we all took to it pretty well. The gentle wind was very helpful for us beginners and everyone had a great time!”

For Sunday night’s apartment meeting, the Madrichim chose to do something a bit different and all the students came to the Moadon for a movie night complete with snacks and popcorn.

On Monday, we had an evening activity called Cafe Ivrit. The students met in a coffee shop in the neighborhood for a nice relaxing evening during which they could ONLY converse in Hebrew (challenging, right? That’s the point! ) The students ordered hot drinks and each one received a menu with some Hebrew vocabulary. The Madrichim walked between the tables and helped the students to start the conversation. It was a great experience to practice some simple Hebrew words including slang and various funny terms that are used on a daily basis. The activity was a great supplement to the Ulpan classes and the students had a wonderful night together.

Jordi Sachs said, “Cafe Ivrit was an awesome night activity arranged by the Madrichot. It gave us the opportunity to broaden our Hebrew slang and even use it in real life scenarios. It was a great night shared over hot chocolate, apple pie and lots of laughter!”

On Tuesday morning we headed to Tal Afek and the Yarkon. The Ottoman Fortress, Binar Bashi, was built in 1571 atop the ancient mound of Tel Afek. The Yarkon (Rosh Ha‘ayin) springs are clearly visible at the foot of the fortress. On the eastern slope of the mound is the British Mandate pumping station, from which Yarkon spring water was once channeled to Jerusalem.

The ancient city of Afek controlled one of the most important passes on the Via Maris (the Way of the Sea). The Israelites settled in Afek in the beginning of the 10th century BCE following King David’s victory over the Philistines. In the Roman era, Herod the Great built the city he called Antipatris there; the Roman main street and the city’s commercial district were discovered south of the Ottoman fortress.

A trail along the upper Yarkon Stream begins near the mound and leads to the Yarkon sources.
Although the springs are capped and mixed with water from the National Water Carrier, a large enough volume flows to support aquatic plants, especially the beautiful yellow water lily, which blooms in summer.

After hiking, exploring and learning the history, we cooked an amazing lunch, played Frisbee, listened to music and even played Shesh Besh (backgammon). It really was an AMAZING day!

This week in Parsha and Pizza we learnt about the Torah portion of Vayeshev. We learned about Joseph’s dreams, his multi-colored coat, and his brothers’ plot to kill him, which arose from their jealousy. Joseph was sold into slavery and found himself in Egypt in Potiphar’s house. Mrs. Potiphar tried to seduce Joseph and despite his resistance, he ends up being framed and sent to prison. There in prison he encountered Pharaoh’s baker and winemaker. He successfully interpreted their dreams and as a result came to Pharaoh’s attention. The group discussed the significance of Joseph’s dreams and the motivations of the different characters. Some of our old commentaries portray these events as revealing God’s master plan to eventually get the Jewish people to go down to Egypt. We were also introduced to a modern psychoanalytical reading of the dreams. Rabbi Marc ended by focusing on Potiphar’s wife and her attempt to seduce Joseph. In the mystical tradition, this moment represents a cosmic struggle of humanity with the Yetzer Hara (the evil inclination) a force so powerful that only a spiritual giant like Joseph the Righteous could defeat it.

On Wednesday the sea sport group went to the beach for a windsurfing session. The wind was great and it didn’t take long for the students to get the hang of it and surf like pros.

On Wednesday evening we had a terrific program about the Israeli map. At first glance, it might seem like an easy discussion to have, but as we dived into the details, it became apparent that it is actually very complex. For many people, both tourists and citizens, understanding the history of the land and the borders, from biblical times through to the establishment of the Jewish state, can be difficult and confusing. During the evening, using an interactive method and an actual floor map that was created during the program, we explored Jewish history, the history of Israel and the region, and the various sides in the contemporary conflict in the Middle East. During the program, we discussed critical events of Jewish and Zionist history and examined them from a variety of perspectives.

Gabe Tolson said, “We learned the gritty, honest history of Israel from an American who was both Pro-Jewish State and Pro-Palestine. It was the forward-thinking perspective that I wanted to hear after being surrounded by extreme opinions on both sides. Through the interactive structure of the program and the genuine approach of the lecturer, I was able to expand my own opinion on the complexities of a Jewish State in Israel.”

Internship in the spotlight, Lilach Sachs: “Mikanmor is a leather store located in the heart of Neve Tzedek. I have been lucky enough to intern there this semester. I get to create leather jewelry from scratch and learn how the business works. My bosses make sure that I understand how they came up with the concept of each design, how to speak to customers and how I can add my own creativity to each piece. I’m so happy that I am able to work here because I have learned a lot about how to treat customers and how to start and run a business successfully, even if there may be obstacles on the way.”

Next week is Chanukah and we have so much planned! Candle lighting ceremonies, Sufganiyot, a Chanukah tour in Jerusalem, and so much more!

The Madrich on call for the weekend is Tali.

All the best and Shabbat Shalom,



Gap year in israel - aardvarkisrael