gap year in israel

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As someone who came to Israel from a very small town in Pennsylvania, I did not have much experience with true Holocaust remembrance, which I know is sad, but I did have a good education on it from my family along with Hebrew school. I knew coming to Israel that it would definitely be something I would experience, but I did not understand the magnitude of it. I have only heard a holocaust survivor speak once in my life, yet it was a very diluted version as I was young. Last week we had the privilege of hearing Gidon Lev speak. The synagogue was filled with over 1000 people, and it was very exciting when I found out it was him who we would be hearing speak as I actually follow him on Tiktok. I find it to be extremely amazing how he could be still so positive despite being in the holocaust as a child and losing over 26 family members. Hearing the story from someone in person definitely made it cemented in my mind and it’s something that stuck with me. I wanted to cry when I heard his story but I know it has to be this way or else we will never learn.

The next day we were told that there would be a siren. Many people already knew about this because they went to Jewish day schools which showed them videos of what happens here, and they had moments of silence at their school. We did not have this at my public school but I really wish that we did. It would have been a lot more striking to those who are not taught about it. Once I knew the siren was coming, I got into a place where I could hear it and spent those minutes reflecting on how unfathomable this tragedy is and how despicable it is. We cannot change the past but I know I always will teach my children about what happened and encourage them to teach theirs too.

In the afternoon we had our madrich meetings, but this time we were split into groups with different madrichim than we usually have. I was with Raz, and she really did a great job at facilitating a conversation and encouraging us to let our feelings be known. We did an activity where there was a timeline and we read everything and wrote down how it made us feel. After this, we read different quotes about the holocaust that people have made over the years. One of the quotes called it a fairytale which I do not even understand. The groups did a really good job pulling important information out and we had a great talk. In the end, the question Raz left us with a lot to think about.

I am really impressed with the way Aardvark gave us a lot of time to understand this better as well as had a lot of activities surrounding Yom Hashoah. While we can not change the past, I am hoping to always teach others so this can never happen again.