gap year in israel

Shalom Parents!

Another great week is over and the holidays are just around the corner. If you’ll walk outside, you’ll see that the fall is starting to take his place here. It starting to get cold in the evening, each day is shorter than his previous one, winds dropping leaves on the ground etc. The fall in Israel holds some unique qualities in which allows us do some important work about ourselves, some of the highlights I’ll be sharing with you in a moment will demonstrate it.

On Sunday evening, the apartment meetings were led by a group of students called “Spark Team”. The spark team gathered two weeks ago in order to do some important inner work – developing our skill of question finding. The team and I discussed how we, humans of the 21th century are great with “problem solving” but having a difficult time with finding the right questions for ourselves. The spark sessions are built into a simple curriculum – 5 steps of finding the right question and then, a discussion with my group about it.
The students were totally into it! Some really important questions brought up like – I’m frustrated by thinking of what will I do after Aardvark, how will this semester help me understand myself better?” OR “I want to be more independent, what should I focus on this semester?”. By the end of each session, the students who presented their questions were sent with at least 3 tasks and by the next session, they will need to report what they have done so far.
– I’m really curious to find out how will your children continue after their sessions.

On Monday, the students gathered in the moadon for a Nutrition Workshop. We tried to schedule this session in the beginning of the semester so the students will have more knowledge of how to cook healthy and shop cheaply! The best tip (on my opinion) is to buy groceries with the least amount of ingredients as possible. Less than 5 is good. Another cool thing to know is that the ingredients are put in order by the amounts. It means that if the first ingredient on the list is sugar it means that most of the product made of sugar.
The nutritionist also gave some recipes for tasty snacks! (and some samples of course..)

Our Tuesday, the tour was to Dialogue in the Dark, a unique museum which allows people to experience what it means to be visually impaired by simulating complete blindness. The group started the exhibit with a trained guide who is visually impaired. Since we were in the dark, the students were only able to see the guide at the very end of the tour. During the tour, the group experienced simulations of going on a boat, picking fruits at the marketplace, crossing the road and many other everyday activities in complete darkness. Being led through the different simulations by someone that can’t see teaches us a lot about perceiving challenges and overcoming difficulties.
There is no way of taking pictures though this tour so you’ll have to imagine the experience.

In Parsha and Pizza this week the group spoke about the importance of choosing in the Parsha of Nitzavim. In one of Rabbi Marc’s favourite verses from the whole Torah, Moses tells the Jewish people that God has given them the choice of how to live their lives – just as we all to this day have that choice. Will we be moral? Will we be kind? Shall we live a life of meaning? “I call upon heaven and earth as witnesses; I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse.” But interestingly the verse continues with the words “And you shall choose life” – We questioned whether this is a command, a prediction or an invitation. Without going to deep into our conversation about free will and destiny (yes the students are real philosophers!) the group grappled with what it means to choose life and live life to the full. A great message at any time of the year, but especially with Rosh Hashana coming up so soon.

On Wednesday, a great man had left our world, yehi zichro baruch, and we decided to make some changes to the schedule to address it. We gathered all the students at the office right after their volunteering, to talk about the death of one of our great leaders of Israel, Shimon Peres. The academic teachers, instead of their regular classes, came with materials and classes about Shimon Peres. I didn’t participate in all of those classes but by talking with the students afterwards it seems like that the teachers succeeded by giving the students a picture of what kind of a leader was Shimon Peres.

Joshua Halickman, one of our teachers, wrote about his class:
“We discussed the Life & Times of Shimon Peres, one of Israel’s Founding Fathers, former Prime Minister and the 9th President who had passed away earlier in the day. In order to get maximum participation, the interactive activity was able to give the students a true sense of the importance of Mr. Peres to not only the country but to the Jewish people throughout the world. The students offered words and adjectives that described the statesman from courageous and brave, from visionary to fearlessness and to the country of Poland where he was born and the Labor party, the political movement that he was associated with. We then weaved these words through the modern day state of Israel highlighting his illustrious career and accomplishments. At the end of the session, an article written by Rachel Sharansky Danziger (daughter of Natan Sharansky, former prisoner of Zion in the Soviet Union) was read entitled, “The man who dared to dream big” to sum up the true inspiration and the power of dreaming that Shimon Peres had done to help mold the country of Israel where we all have the privilege to be in for a year of study, education and reflection.”

Later on that day, we continueId as planed with our Annual Rosh Hashana Seder. The evening was led by Culture committee. They did everything you can think of! Naama, the madricha is leading the committee told me that she was so happy with the group. They thought of everything! Decoration, dishes (which they made by themselves!), budget, PR, etc. The tables were set with beautiful red mops on them, disco apples were hanging from the celing and gave the seder the young vibes he was made of. The Seder was some kind of a celebration which opens the educational process of the fall – Tishrei Holidays. The process begins in Rosh Hashana, with the question – Who do I want to be this year?. Everyone went through this question by crafting their own personal mission statements. This was a great way of saying Shana Tova (Happy new year). the staff and the participants were all very impressed with the wonderful Seder the comittee had orginized! Kol Hakavod!

As of Thursday, due to the death of Shimon Peres, we had cancelled volunteering and the students all went on a bus to the Knesset Hall in Jerusalem with the madrichim, to share one last respect to Shimon Peres. Some of our students will go to the funeral today as well. According to the news, it will be one of the most biggest event ever took place in Israel. Leaders from all around the world are on their way, (Including president Obama). Hundreds of thousands of people will be there. Your children are now being part of the history of the state of Israel.

Some notes for the holidays:
– As of tomorrow the students are on a holiday break until Wednesday morning for the weekend and Rosh Hashana. There is a madrich on call for each day of the weekend and the holiday – you can see it on the schedule.

– I will be out for the holidays until October 25th. For any matter please email Rotem – [email protected].

That will be all for now,
I wish you Shana Tova, Chag Samech
and Shabbat Shalom.

Gap year in israel - aardvarkisrael