gap year in israel

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Dear Parents,

Gmar Chatima Tova

Another special week has passed here on Aardvark Tel Aviv.

As you know, we paused our week for Yom Kippur which was last Tuesday and Wednesday, and then returned for one day of our normal routine before the holiday of Sukkot begins.

We use this special holiday season as an opportunity to allow the students to become acclimated to their new internships while also learning about and celebrating the Jewish holidays and their traditions.

Here is a little about what we did this week:

On Sunday, the students went to their internships and volunteer groups. We also went with a small group of students to an animal shelter where we looked after and treated some injured and/or homeless cats and dogs.

The Sea Sport group went to a paddleboard session where they learned how to balance, paddle, surf wave and use their lower and upper body strength to surf the sea. It is a very athletic activity and the students definitely got their work out that day.

The Entrepreneurship group had a great session with an entrepreneur name Assaf Luxembourg. Assaf’s area of expertise is promoting Israel through business. He works with companies from all over the world to help them grow and expand in order to make the most out of what they have. Assaf also meets with students, such as the Aardvark group, and he spoke to us about making the most of internships and going above and beyond what is expected. He will be talking to us in the future about how to start a business and market it successfully in a city such as Tel Aviv, which is known for its abundance of startups.

Eli Kreisberger said, “I really enjoyed his talk because I one day hope to start my own business and I am grateful that Aardvark provided me the opportunity to speak with such an interesting person.”

In the evening, the students had an apartment meeting with the Madrichim. The Madrichim choose a different topic for each meeting and guide the group through an activity based upon it. This Sunday the activity was about Yom Kippur and the process of making amends and accepting apologies.

On Monday morning, some of the students gathered in the Moadon for a group activity making sukkah decorations while the rest of the students went to their internships and volunteering activities.

In the evening, we had an amazing optional activity called Master Chef. I’m proud to say that most of the students chose to attend the activity and it was great to see our Moadon packed with students cooking together trying to win the title of “Aardvark Israel Master Chef”

The students were divided into groups and each group had to prepare a special ethnic dish within a given budget. After the cooking was completed, we sat around the table for a delicious meal!

Josh Lousky said, “The master chef activity has thought me camaraderie in the kitchen. I can implement these skills all year long in my cooking endeavors whether it be a relatively easy dish to prepare or a full three-course meal. This activity taught me that I can perform and craft exemplary dishes!!!”

Tuesday was Erev Yom Kippur and our Madrichim prepared a special pre-fast meal at our Moadon for any student that wished to come. We also helped the students who wanted to have a more meaningful experience by giving them information about synagogues in our neighborhood including orthodox, reform, conservative, Ashkenazy and Sephardi. Each student was able to choose the synagogue that they feel most comfortable attending.

Jordi Sachs said, “Yom Kippur was so beautiful! The streets were packed with kids on bikes as well as families and friends walking in the streets of Raanana. Everyone was wearing white and I have never seen anything like it before! My fast was so easy and the day passed by very quickly – What an experience!”

On Thursday, after a whole day of internships and academic classes, the Madrichim had a short group meeting in the apartments. In the meetings, the Madrichim discussed goals for the semester and how to increase motivation for the educational aspects of the program, which will become more intense after the holiday season.

Later that evening some of the students came to the patio area outside one of our apartments to help build and decorate the Sukkah. Next week, during the holiday, our Madrich on call will be organizing an activity in the Sukkah and we are also going to have a few more activities there when we return from the holiday break.

Next week we are going to a kibbutz next to Rechovot for a “Leket” (picking oranges) activity. In addition, due to the holidays, some of the volunteering places will not be open on Wednesday and Thursday. Therefore, every morning we will have a different Sukkot related activity for the group.

Internship on the Spot, Dana Bredeson:

My name is Dana and I am from Brooklyn NY. I have a passion for music and teaching and I was lucky enough to find a daycare that let me do both. I work at Tiny Toes Day Care in the heart of Tel Aviv. The environment is just the best, it is all females so yay women empowerment. I get to help feed, put to sleep, and play with the children. They are ages 1-2. And best of all is getting to do music with them. I love that I am still making an impact on actual human lives, and that’s what I feel we all strive for, to make a genuine human connection. I can’t think of any other way to make a more meaningful impact than on a developing child’s life. I love that children want to learn and explore the world around them. A typical day at TTDC looks like this. When I come in there are the ones and twos playing with toys, walking toys (Bimba), and the best one off all, the mighty ball pit. From about 8:30-9:00 they eat breakfast and then we put them to sleep, its nothing but tears and loud wales of little-tired puddles. After that, we clean up the mess and play two-year-olds. The twos go to a local park, in the meantime, we all clean up the mess they left. Then we wake them up, they play from 11:00-12:00 and then we feed them lunch. After lunch, they go down for another nap. Then we have to leave. However, in the morning they are smiling, playing, and having the best time. The best things are the little moments. One of the girls took her first steps right in front of me. It was amazing, one moment I was walking around with her, and the next she let go and walked on her own. I was so impressed. It’s that moment and countless more that make me love my internship. I’m so appreciative of Aardvark for giving me this wonderful opportunity”.

The Madrich on call for this weekend is Avia and the Madrich on call for Sukkot is Daniel.

Chag Sukkot Sameach,



Gap year in israel - aardvarkisrael