gap year in israel

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

Shalom Dear Parents,

We are at the halfway point of our first semester and I feel like I must tell you about some of the amazing things that have happened.

We had a great week full of fun, meaningful and educational activities. With great excitement, here is the news from this week:

On Sunday – Our Sea Sport team went to Rishon Le’zion for a go-karting experience. The students had a tournament and we discovered that we have some very skilled drivers amongst us! In the evening, our Madrichim met with their students at their apartments for their weekly cleanliness check-up, to give them announcements for next week, and run a short educational activity.

Lilach Sachs said, “The apartment activity on Sunday was extremely interesting. I learned a lot about my roommates as well as my Madrich. We played a game where we had to put our role model’s name on a paper, mixed the papers up and stuck them to our foreheads. We had to ask questions about said people until we guessed which one was stuck to our own forehead. I chose Martin Luther King Jr. and the others chose Obama, The Joker, and Tara Lipinski. We spoke about why we chose those people and what they did that was so impactful to us. I hope to learn about more people that my roommates look up to and why they look up to them throughout the rest of my time here.”

On Monday evening after volunteering and classes, almost all of our students chose to attend a very special activity called “Aardvark Mind & Body” organized by our Madrichim. At the entrance to our Moadon we played soothing and relaxing music and placed a number of scented candles and liquids. From the very beginning, we could tell that all of the students arrived with open minds to learn and understand a new and different world of spirituality.

The activity started with a short explanation and group meditation, after this, the students were split into two groups, each of which had a different workshop. One group had a scent and oil workshop in which they created a natural spray used to assist in healthier sleeping. The other group had a senses workshop that focused on opening our senses and using them more in our day-to-day lives. At the end, all of the students made tea using herbs that were picked from the local community garden, and while drinking their tea, our Madrichim summed up this special and unique activity.

Abby Bronchick said, “The mind and body experience was by far my favorite activity! It was a really good opportunity to de-stress and get in touch with my inner peace. In our day to day lives we build up a lot of stress and this activity really calmed me. I loved the calming atmosphere and amazing smells. It was nice just being in a quiet space where I can focus on a simple thing like breathing. Danielle and Avia gave us the opportunity to take this away as well, by making a beautiful smelling spray and making our own tea. I’m glad I had the opportunity to meditate and find healthy ways to handle stress.”

Ilay Picker said, “This activity on a whole was really fun and interesting, as I have learned about myself and how to better my sleep as well as make herbal tea from scratch”

This week’s trip on Tuesday was to a fascinating place called “Atachlit.” One of the objectives for this month is to get to know different cultures in Israel so that we can give the students a better understanding of the variety and diversity within society. “Atachlit” is a place that offers an Ethiopian experience. It was established to give the elders in the Ethiopian community a place to work the land and deal with agriculture. The idea was to give the elders the opportunity to feel significant and valuable in society. When we arrived there, we were treated to traditional hospitality complete with “buna”, Ethiopian coffee, and “Injara”, Ethiopian bread. We had a lecture about the struggles of the Ethiopian community and the idea of the “Atachlit” village. Later we had two different workshops. One was a personal “Aliya” story told by a woman name Geula. She told us about her fascinating and amazing journey to Israel. The second workshop was a clay art workshop. We had the chance to make dishes and instruments in the Ethiopian traditional way. We also found that many of our students are talented sculptors☺. We finished the tour with a traditional Ethiopian meal, and yes, it was spicy! The students had a great time, and they had the chance to peek at one of the most interesting communities in Israel.

In this week’s Parsha and Pizza, the group learned about the portion of Toldot, which describes the birth of Jacob and Esau and tells the tale of Isaac and Rebecca’s lives. Rabbi Marc presented the idea that in many ways Isaac’s life can be seen as a close repetition of his father’s, Abraham. Abraham dug wells, so did Isaac and both sought refuge with Avimelech, King of Gerar, when the famine broke. We talked about how children so often try to be different from their parents but end up becoming more similar to them as they grow older. Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz in his book Biblical Images teaches that Isaac is the continuation of Abraham. If Abraham was the revolutionary iconoclast that brought ethical monotheism to the world then Isaac was the one who ensured the revolution was not fleeting but could take root and remain. Isaac’s stability was crucial to the success of Judaism. Isaac was the only one of the forefathers to have one wife who he loved. Isaac also never left Israel. He is described (in Bereishit 26:12) planting seeds and growing crops. Perhaps there is a message here that we do not always need to innovate and to seek out the new and different. There is a place in our world for being the continuers – whether that be of technological innovations, our parents’ values or even, the chain of Jewish tradition.

On Wednesday, our Sea Sport team went wall climbing at I climb. The students showed great strength and will power and most of them managed to make it to the top.

In the evening, the moment we were all waiting for finally arrived. Over the last few weeks, several students began their preparation for our TED talks that they delivered this week. Twelve students went outside of their comfort zones to prepare thrilling and interesting lectures and workshops, and then dealt with one of life’s biggest challenges, speaking in front of an audience.

It was very emotional to see our students stand in front of their friends and talk about issues close to their hearts (below is the lecture schedule so you can see for yourselves). When we started planning the activity, the students came to our offices, and chose one lecture from three possibilities, in four separate rotations. The lecture topics included “Talking in front of an audience”, “Nutrition and Health”, “Improv workshop”, “History of Hip-Hop”, “IDF”, etc. One of the most uplifting things was seeing the amount of love and support the other students gave to those who were giving the lectures. The activity was such a success that some of the students who were previously worried about talking in this activity, were inspired by their friends and then came to ask us to organize another TED evening so that they can speak too.

Jaime Meshulam said, “I enjoyed hearing my peers present their passions as well as watching their amazing PowerPoint presentations! It was a unique activity that allowed us to get to know each other better and create a positive environment for sharing one’s interests. This was one of my favorite Wednesday night activities because the speakers were my peers!”

Next week we will travel to Jaffa as part of our “multicultural” month. On the tour, we will discuss coexistence in one of the most fascinating cities in the world. The Madrich on call this week is Idan Levi, our internship coordinator.

Shabbat Shalom,



Gap year in israel - aardvarkisrael