gap year in israel

Dear Parents,

We were finally able to spend a full week with the students after the holiday season and it was great fun! Here are some highlights from the week:

On Sunday: The Sea Sport group had another surfing class. This time our Internship Coordinator, Idan Levy, joined them, as he is a professional surfer. It was a great day with good waves and it seems as if everyone is getting the hang of it and beginning to surf like pros.

Joe Poter said, “This week in Sea Sports we went surfing and paddle boarding. This was my first time ever surfing and I had a blast! The water has been getting colder recently and feels better every day. I’m looking forward to improving my surfing skills next week.”

Alex Fogel said, “This past week in Sea Sports we did some surfing and some paddle boarding. Both are amazing, although surfing is my personal favorite. By the end of the lesson on Sunday, we were even catching some waves on our own! I was surprised by how well everyone seemed to take to the sport. We’re having so much fun in sea sports — it’s one of our favorite parts of the week!”

In the early afternoon, the students came to our offices for their committee meetings. The first meeting of every committee dealt with talking about and planning the different activities and projects they want to do this semester. The culture committee brought up some really interesting ideas such as a bonfire on the beach and a Halloween party. The logistics committee thought of different and creative ways to redecorate the patio under one of our apartments so that it can be another cool spot for the students to hang out. The promoters committee thought of different ways to spread information about interesting events in the city, such as a big bulletin board at the entrance to the office.

We expect a very productive semester in which the students can and will affect their day-to-day lives using these committees and in general expand their personal experience on our program.

In the evening, the Madrichim met with their students in their apartments for a quick cleanliness check and an educational activity. This time the Madrichim chose to run an activity that involved making chocolate fondue with lots of fruit and snacks, each student had to answer a personal question that matched the fruit they chose to dip in the fondue. This way the students got to know one another better and had a great and delicious time bonding and creating new memories. Some of the subjects that came up in these conversations were life goals, hopes, and dreams for the future, childhood challenges etc.

On Monday: After internships/volunteering and classes, the students who spent a fun week in Spain returned to us and everyone gathered in our Moadon for a fun and cool activity run by our Madrichim, the activity was called “Cafe Dilemma and Zionism”. The entire Moadon was transformed into a cafe and on each 5-person table stood a menu. You can see the menu and the dilemma in the photos below. Each item the students ordered from the menu came with a Zionism related dilemma, the students were asked to discuss the different dilemmas and try to reach a solution agreed by everyone at the table. At the end of the activity, each team shared their challenges in solving their dilemmas; it was wonderful to see how the students are facing difficult and controversial issues in a mannered discussion and debate.

On Tuesday: We all 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 the national park of Caesarea. The Park contains the ancient Roman ruins of the city. 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 seeing the preserved ruins really helped us gain 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 the aqueduct of Caesarea. It was really cool to walk inside the aqueducts’ water in total darkness.

After lunch, we chose to end the trip at one of the most beautiful beaches in Israel, Hof Hakshatot. The students were amazed by the beauty of the beach and ran straight into the clear blue water, we also had great weather.

Lauren Frankel said, “Being my first time in Israel, Aardvark has given me the opportunity to explore the whole country! Every activity comes with a new opportunity and an exciting experience. This week, we went to Caesarea and explored the ancient ruins, trekked the Alona water tunnels, and swam in the beautiful beaches. I have cherished every moment of this month and a half and Aardvark is truly a trip I will never forget!”

This week in Parsha and Pizza we read the story of Noah and the flood. The Torah portion of Noach also includes some interesting stories about what happened after the flood – including the famous story of the Tower of Babel. One of the themes we spoke about with Rabbi Marc was the crimes of the generation of the flood. We tried to understand what could have made God so angry that His best option was to wipe the slate clean and start humanity again. We explored the roots of violence and its impact on society as one of the opinions of our Rabbis of old was that violent robbery was the immoral behavior that caused God to get angry. A different view was that the flood generation would steal halfpennies from each other – a seemingly irrelevant amount of money and not something one would be put in jail for, yet by accumulating small coins in huge numbers people would profit off the back of others. We also learnt about the symbolism of the rainbow. God gives us the rainbow as a sign that He will never again destroy humanity in a flood. One explanation of the rainbow’s power is that it represents an upturned bow. In ancient times a way of showing the end of hostilities in a conflict was to turn your bow around, thereby showing you have no intent to harm. God shows us his bow and it is pointed away from us, a mark of peace. A final idea about the rainbow is how all of its colors come from the same source of light refracted into reds, yellows and violets. Perhaps God is showing us that we all have a place in the divine light of creation.

On Wednesday: The students headed to their internships. The Sea Sport students had yet another amazing paddleboard session. After the day’s classes, all the students met Gonen Ben Yitzchak, the Shin Bet handler who worked with the Green Prince during his years as an agent. It is a true privilege to have him come and speak about his story. If you are also interested in the story, a full-length movie is on Vimeo (The Green Prince) and the story is also available as a book, The Son of Hamas, written by Musab (The Green Prince) himself.

Rachel Hasson said, “I thoroughly enjoyed our Wednesday night activity. Gonen Ben Itzchak, the handler of ‘The Green Prince’ came to speak to us and allowed us to ask questions about his profession and experiences. I found it very interesting and thought provoking. There were even some questions that couldn’t be answered without disclosing too much information! It was a very exciting activity in the Moadon!”

On Thursday: It was another day of internships and volunteering. Our staff visited some of the different locations where your children are interning/volunteering, and it seems as if everyone was having fun and really enjoying what they are doing, while also learning and experiencing new things. It also seems as if their mentors were very satisfied with their work.

Internship in the Spotlight – Shira Vilvovsky, “My internship has really let me see what kind of planning and business tactics are involved in planning events and advertising. I’m helping a couple to plan a Wedding Fair, which is a big thing in North America but wasn’t here in Tel Aviv. They’re from Canada, so when they made Aliyah they decided to try and bring the wedding fair to Israel. It’s going to be a big event where brides can go and talk to different vendors. I think it’s a great way to make the wedding planning process a bit easier. Part of my job is to advertise this event to brides or people related to the wedding planning process. Right now, I’m finding models for the fashion show that will occur during the event. We also help out with making lists of vendors and such, so we have a lot of different things to work on. The first few weeks, during the holidays, we learned a lot about the business tactics that this couple uses. I think it was really cool to hear about the business side.”

Next week we will head for a multicultural experience in Haifa that I will tell you all about in next week’s email 🙂

The Madrich on Call for this weekend is Daniel.



Gap year in israel - aardvarkisrael