gap year in israel

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

Dear Parents,

We are approaching the end of yet another short but fun and eventful week.

In a few days, when the holiday season is over, we will finally settle into our regular routine complete with new challenges and opportunities for our students.

We are pleased to announce that we will be launching our new committee platform next week, as at Aardvark we believe that the students should learn, affect and be an active part of the program.

Some of the committees that will open for everyone to take part in are:

  • Culture Committee – Creating activities and events for fellow students
  • Logistics Committee – The students will do woodwork and construct new things
  • Media Committee – The students will document their experiences on social media and create weekly or monthly vlogs
  • Promotion Committee – The students will advertise and promote the different events that are happening in the neighborhood and within the Florentin community so that all students can fully take advantage of their free time I would really appreciate it if you could speak to your children and encourage them to take part and volunteer in these committees so that we can make the most of them.

Now I would like to tell you a little bit about the highlights from this week:

During the weekend we had an alternative Shabbat ceremony that was initiated by one of our students, Dana Bederson. The students met on the rooftop of our Marculet building for an inspiring ceremony that included Shabbat songs and spending quality time together. Usually, it is our Madrichim’s job to create these activities, but it seems as if this semester’s students have a lot of initiative, creativeness and are more than happy to contribute to our activity schedule. It is such a wonderful thing to experience and see as staff, and we will do our best to continue to encourage our students to initiate more activities.

On Tuesday, we returned from the Sukkot vacation and went straight on an interesting Tiyul to Rehovot.

We began the day at a special place, the Ayalon Institute, which was a bullet factory during the British Mandate and actually provided most of the ammunition for the soldiers during the Independence War after the founding of Israel. The museum is special because it has been conserved exactly the way that it was when it was an active factory. We also walked around the museum’s different houses that were once a kibbutz and we got a better feel and understanding of how the kibbutz was built and operated while keeping the ammunition factory a secret from the British. Our tour guide told about how all the members of the kibbutz worked day and night to keep the factory a secret. For example, we saw the secret entrance to the factory through the kibbutz’s main laundry room and we saw the bakery that was built on top of the factory in order to hide the smell and noise coming from underground. This story of the kibbutz is an example of young people, around your children’s age, devoting their life to working under and over ground in tough conditions just for the dream of one day establishing the State of Israel.

From the museum, we continued to Leket Israel, near Rehovot, to take part in “Katif” – the collection of fruits from their trees and bushes. Leket Israel is a non-profit organization that collects food for those in need. The Katif we took part in is one of the organization’s projects and it delivers the fruits we collected to families in need. After a brief talk about the organization, we collected buckets and got to work. The students walked around the field and collected tangerines; it was not only an important mitzvah but also a really fun experience.

This week’s Parsha and Pizza had a holiday theme. We went to visit the local Chabad center to sit in their stunning rooftop sukkah. We had the chance to shake the Lulav and Etrog and learn all about their symbolism as well as the secret meaning behind why we sit in the Succah. Rabbi Marc made a playlist of songs that contain the words ‘happy’ or ‘happiness’, and he then played a number of them. We even sang a few Jewish songs about happiness. Being happy is one of the central themes of the Succot holiday and everyone who attended got involved in a powerful discussion about the nature of happiness, what makes us happy as people and whether our society is a happy place. We also heard the story of the biblical book Kohelet (Ecclesiastes), which is attributed to King Solomon. It is a short work that makes us think about how to find the key to true happiness and meaning in this world. Finally, we ended with Rabbi Marc telling a Hassidic story and linking it to a famous song ”Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin
Since this week is part of the holiday (Chol Ha’moad), some of the internship/volunteer places were closed. Because of this, the students that couldn’t go to their usual internships/volunteering went on one of our organized activities:

On Wednesday, in the morning, we went to the Tel-Aviv Port to take part in the new program at “Beit Tefila Israeli”. The program has built a huge sukkah in the middle of the port where they held all sorts of different enjoyable activities for the public. We had a yoga class in the sukkah and afterwards, we went down to the beach for a delicious picnic complete with guitar playing and singing.

On our entrepreneurship track, the students learned about and practiced their body language, an important tool in the business world. Our Sea Sports track had another amazing session of paddles boarding.

In the evening, after classes, the students gathered in our Moadon to hear a lecture from a local caricaturist about the connection between humor and Israeli culture. The lecture was funny and interesting as it gave us an idea of the techniques used by artists to express criticism by thinking outside of the box and using humor. At the end of the lecture, we could even try it ourselves, we were given various caricatures and came up with different and funny captions for them.

On Thursday, in the morning, we went on a tour called “Bein Kodesh le Chol”. The students walked around Tel-Aviv, with a guide, and learned about the history of Judaism in Tel-Aviv and the interesting yet complicated relationship between religion and culture in Tel-Aviv.

In the evening, after classes, the students who are going to Spain next week met with Debbie for a quick lecture where they received all of the information necessary to be fully prepared for this trip. We wish them a happy and safe journey and hope that they have lots of fun!

Next week the students will have an ODT seminar where they will learn about group dynamics and building mutual trust amongst themselves. Afterwards, we will have a community meeting where the students will be able to bring up issues important to them and they will receive some vital information about the educational process on the program. We will also use this opportunity to present them with the committees mentioned above.

The Madrich on call for the weekend is Idan and the Madrich on call for the holiday is Avia.

Have a great weekend and Chag Sameach,



Gap year in israel - aardvarkisrael