gap year in israel

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Dear parents,

It has been an amazing week. We have had a great time traveling and running fun activities with your children and now I’m excited to tell you about the week’s highlights. Here we go:

On Sunday, the students had interesting lectures and workshops on internships, volunteering, and Israeli culture, later in the day they had some time off to clean their apartments, buy groceries, do their laundry and run any errands that they had. In the evening, they had apartment meetings in which we ran an activity called “something sweet and something bitter/challenging”. In this activity we gave each of the students a piece of chocolate and a nut and they told each other one “sweet” memory they had this week and one “challenging” experience that they had.

On Monday, the students had their first day of internships/volunteering! Some of your children had an amazing learning experience interning with some of the best startups, schools, local businesses, NGOs, and so on, while the rest volunteered as a group and worked cleaning beaches while learning about the value of good deeds and keeping our environment clean and healthy for our generation and the next. Later that day, after finishing their internships/volunteering, the students had their first classes such as Hebrew, Middle Eastern Politics, an Introduction to Business, Social Psychology, and more. In the evening, we took them paintballing in Holon, about a 20-minute bus ride from their apartments. They had loads of fun bonding and chasing after each other around the obstacle course, overall it was a great but busy day.

Eli Zadik said, “I enjoyed the exhilarating feeling of playing paintball, and bonding with my friends during the activity. We all got geared up, and frankly, it felt like something straight out of American sniper.”

On Tuesday, we all went on a Tiyul to the Zichron Ya’akov area. We began the day at the Nadiv Gardens, which are amazing botanical gardens planted in honor of Baron Rothschild and his family. There we walked around the beautiful rose garden, water fountains, herbs garden, watched a short movie about the history of the place and the story of one of Israel’s very first settlements. Later we continued into the town of Zichron Ya’akov where our tour guide walked us through the old roads and secret paths of the old settlement while providing us with fascinating information about the hard life that the settlers had to go through to get to the easy and comfortable life that we have today. We finished the tour with a visit to the Nili museum where we learned about the Nili Organization and the Aaronson family and their great sacrifice and contribution to the founding of Israel. In the end, the students had some free time to walk around the Midrachov in Zichron Ya’akov, which is known for its variety of beautiful art galleries, and have lunch at one of the local restaurants or cafes.

Eli Kriesberger said, “I really enjoyed this outing to Zichron Yakov with all of my new friends. We got to learn a lot about the history of Israel while at the same time enjoying its beauty. I feel a deeper connection with this country and an even greater understanding of the people who helped create it.”

In the evening, we had our first Parsha and Pizza of the semester. This is an optional evening activity runs throughout the year. Rabbi Marc introduces the main outline of the weekly Torah portion that is read in synagogues that week and while the students eat and enjoy some free pizza, the group discusses and learns about themes and ideas that interest them. This week’s portion is Nitzavim and our discussion about it led to a lively conversation about free will and an in-depth exploration of the choices we make in our lives and their consequences. We noticed that the Torah mentions the gathering of the exiles and we looked at the different backgrounds and ethnic groups that make up Israeli society. It was a very memorable way to begin the year.

On Wednesday, the students began their day with internships or volunteering at the local soup kitchen where they learned about the benefits of helping the weaker and less fortunate communities in Israel. After finishing their internships/volunteering, the students came back to attend their classes. Later that evening, we had a special “Rosh Hashanah” event for them on a rooftop in Tel-Aviv in which we taught them about some of the holiday’s traditions, such as eating apple with honey, singing songs and blessing food that is associated with this holiday. Towards the end of the evening each student was asked to write their wishes for their friends for the New Year and put them inside a pomegranate shaped box which they each got to keep.

Joe Porter said, “Our Rosh Hashanah activity on the roof was my favorite part of the week. I enjoyed watching the sun go down while talking with my friends and learning about the Jewish new year.”

On Thursday, for the group volunteering activity, we helped establish a community garden in Herzliya, while learning lots about recycling and agriculture. After everyone had finished their internships/volunteering for the day, they attended their classes before returning to their apartments to rest and prepare for the long weekend and holiday ahead of us.

We are very happy and proud to say that many of our students have become close to each over this relatively short period together and have invited each other to spend the holiday with their family and friends across Israel. We are making sure that each and every student has a plan for the holiday and will not be left alone.

Next week we will have a “Siyur Slichot” in Jaffa with Rabbi Marc and by the end of the week, we expect that the students will have finished with their interviews and will be settling in their new internships.

Below please find the schedule for the upcoming week alongside some great pictures from last week.
We all are ready and excited for the upcoming week.

Shana Tova and Shabbat Shalom

Eyal Haim