Aardvark – a new youth initiative in Israel

August 18, 2011 by J-Wire Staff
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Aardvark Israel – www.aardvarkisrael.com is an exciting 5 or 6.5 month student program situated in the heart of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The program combines immersion into Israeli Society, service to the community through volunteer work and internships, and learning about Israel and Judaism through both formal academic and informal educational encounters. In addition to volunteering and studies, built into the program are weekly field trips, extracurricular activities, hiking trips, seminars, and more!

Aardvark Israel will enrich and strengthen students Jewish identity, deepen their commitment to Israel, and foster personal growth through a meaningful, life-changing and fun experience in the Holy Land with other students from around the world.

This program is only going into it’s second year but has already proven successful with 73 participants last year. For 2012, we have students signed up from America, Canada, Panama, Germany, Australia, London and South Africa

Aardvark Israel is part of MASA and is a new player in the Israel programs market. Both Aujs’s AVIV and Israel by choice are well known in Australia but Aardvark is a NEW FRESH alternative.Last year there were 2 Aussies from Melbourne on the program.

Scholarships of up to $10,000 are available through Masa.

The semester starts on January 15, 2012. For more info email info@aadvarkisrael.com


Enjoying Aardvark

Michael from Melbourne, aged 20, began to feel antsy at home and knew he needed to leave his couch for greener pastures.  He is now living in Israel on Aardvark, a 6 month Israel program designed to immerse participants (who do not want to be tourists) into Israeli culture.

Michael was presented with a windfall of Israel Program choices and selected Aardvark as the right Israel experience for him. He wanted a program that “had no religious affiliation but opportunities for religion anyway”. He needed a program that “attracted an older crowd or at least people who were more interested in living by themselves” and “having a program to guide rather than restrict”.

Aardvark’s goal is to integrate participants with Israelis and Israeli society in order to help them familiarise with the cultural, linguistic, historical, and political realities of Israel. At the beginning of Aardvark Michael found himself living in an apartment in Tel Aviv, the cultural heart of Israel, with a group of boys from the U.S, South America and Spain. Whilst partying was definitely on the agenda AARVARK gives their participants the option to volunteer within the community or intern in the workforce. Michael had indicated his interest in journalism and politics and interned at Ha’aretz, an English speaking newspaper in Tel Aviv.

Now 5 months into the program he is living in Jerusalem, in an apartment in the beautiful streets of Old Katamon and interning at an online media service called ‘Behind the news in Israel’.  He has found that working in media has spurred his passion for Middle Eastern studies and feels that this opportunity has encouraged him to seek out options within this area once he arrives home.


The options to volunteer have also opened his eyes to the imperfections in this world, “volunteering has made me see how bad things can get for people and I have realised that even little things can make a difference. I’m actually starting some more volunteering soon and think I might learn a thing or two from there.”

Whilst he was unsure whether he had wanted to go on a program at all, Michael has found that Aardvark is giving him the best of both worlds. “You get the freedom to see Israel on your own and with people you meet along the way, through the program and from outside it. Aardvark gives you the support and help whenever you need it, but the freedom to follow your own interest. You get the best of both worlds”.


Michael is one of only two Australians on Aardvark and has really enjoyed meeting the people on the program. “It has been a highlight meeting other Jews around the same age as me from all over the world – actually the participants, leaders and organizers are all pretty cool.”

“The Madrichim are genuinely interested in helping you out and are all pretty relaxed people. You have the opportunity to travel in Israel with them and learn about all kinds of things from history, to Hebrew to site seeing. They give you room to learn things on your own as well. The relationship between the Madrichim and participants is relaxed, mature and there is definitely respect both ways. The accommodation is good too.”

Michael has travelled down to Eilat and up to the Golan Heights and everywhere in between.  He has spent Shabbos with friends he has made along the way and is still trying his best to talk Hebrew like a local.

“I really do not want to go home.”

Recruitment from South Africa and Australia is being managed by Sydney volunteer Cara Katz.


One Response to “Aardvark – a new youth initiative in Israel”
  1. Roe says:

    BUYER BEWARE. The following photos are real images of the apartment we were given by Aardvark. The original images they sent us gave the impression of a beautiful, pristine apartment and did not reflect the actual condition of the apartment we were issued. When we complained our madrichs told us we were being too picky. Our first night there we were not informed that the building gate would be locked and weren’t given keys to get out- we received no genuine help and were literally trapped in the building until the morning- despite being starving after a 20 hour commute to get to the country. The entire apartment was coated in grime and we spent our first day in Tel-Aviv cleaning. For the price we were paying for this poor excuse of an apartment we could have stayed in a private room at a hostel on the beach for a month.Thankfully I do not believe that this apartment is theres anymore, however it is clear through their misrepresentation of it that Aardvark is not an honest organization. If (probably when) this is deleted, IT WILL ONLY SHOW HOW LITTLE THEY VALUE THE TRUTH. Please feel free to contact me with further inquiries or requests to see the original apartment photos we were sent.

    find photos here


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