gap year in israel

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Dear parents,

It has been an amazing week. We have had a great time meeting your kids and I’m excited to share the highlights of the week. Here we go:

As you know, the students arrived throughout the day on Monday and immediately began to meet each other and the staff. For lunch we went across the road to a local falafel shop. Later on that day we had our first activity, each madrich joined his/her apartment to have an intimate apartment meeting which included icebreakers and the opportunity to share information about each other.

After the apartment meetings we went on a tour of the Florentine neighborhood. We showed the students all the essential places around the apartment buildings and office. We ended the day with a nice dinner together at a restaurant and followed it with a community talk led by myself about the upcoming semester: goals, main topics, and expectations.

On Tuesday, we began the day with a tasting tour in the Levinsky market (Shuk). Afterwards, we had breakfast together, followed by an academic session and workshops on how the students can maximize their time in Israel. Later on, we split into apartments for an activity on how to build and handle a budget as an individual and an apartment. We continued the day with an elective session, a bike tour around Tel Aviv and a tour of the street art around the south of Tel Aviv. We finished both tours in the historic train station with a final activity. The students were asked to write a letter to themselves including their expectation, thoughts, and wishes for the upcoming semester. The letters will be returned to them at end of the semester.

Wednesday – Thursday was our first overnight trip with the Jerusalem group. We went to the north of Israel, specifically the north of the Galil and the Kinneret area. On the first day we went on a short hike in Nachal Ha Kibuzzim. The entire hike was inside a river and it was great to escape the hot weather and cool down in the cold water. The students were splashing around and they seemed to love it! We continued from there to Mitzpe Ofir for an opening ceremony. We spent that evening and night near the Kinneret enjoying its beautiful views. We ended the day with an awesome evening activity about Israeli history.

The next day we went on another hike, this time in a place called Gilabun. Despite the length of the hike and the warm weather, the students completed the course like champions! Later that day we went to the Kinneret to eat lunch, relax and swim in the water. For some of the students, it was their first time there, and it was an amazing experience for everyone.

On Friday, before Shabbat prep, we had two activities. The first was a session on the importance of volunteering in the community. We discussed how we are able to contribute as collectives and as individuals. Our second program was a bit different and focused on a very important life skill in Israel – how to negotiate and get the best price when shopping in the market! 😉 . We all went to Shuk Ha Carmel and had a competition. The idea was to buy as many items on the list with the least amount of money possible. The winners received a juicer for their apartment!

Afterwards we had some time to rest and prepare for Shabbat. We met at the office for Kabbalat Shabbat. The students dressed up for the occasion and we sang some Shabbat songs together, there was even a skit performed by the Madrichim. At the end of the Kabbalat Shabbat service, the students gave blessings for the upcoming semester.

Sophia Gaufberg said, “I feel like I’m going to cry, the energy in this room is so electric and everyone looks so beautiful. On Shabbat I try to call and talk with the people I care about and tell them that I love them and also try to keep my heart as open as I can.”

Ryan (Tamir) Cohen told everyone about the meaning of Shabbat in his house. Most of the students shared their thought and feeling with the group. It was a truly emotional moment for the people in the room.
After a touching Kabbalat Shabbat, we walked on the beach all the way to the synagogue to join a Shabbat service and then dinner. On our way we saw an amazing sunset, and once in the synagogue the students had the chance to interact with a local community in Tel Aviv.

Late on Saturday morning, the students split up into groups and had a duet potluck at their apartments. They made omelets, eggs, all different kind of salads and pasta. The Madrichim brought Jahnun, a Yemeni food, and they had a lovely breakfast together.

After some free time to rest, we met at the park, next to the sea, for an activity about Jewish Identity. The students had the opportunity to talk about their individual Jewish identities and what they feel contribute to them. The program went so well that most of the group did not finish on time and just wanted to continue the conversation with their friends and take it to a deeper level. After we were done, we continued with a few elective workshops: Juggling, Yoga, and Arco balance. It was really fun! As the day ended, we finished with Havdalah and blessed each other with blessings for next week

Attached please find the schedule for the upcoming week alongside some great pictures from last week.

One last note – Please be in touch directly with your child’s madrich/a. Please do not call the inquiry line. The recruiting staff is not up to date with the day-to-day welfare of your child, but their madrich/a is and are therefore better equipped to answer your questions.
We all are ready and excited for the upcoming week.

Have a great week,


Gap year in israel - aardvarkisrael