I really enjoyed the five months I spent in Israel recently. I spent the first month doing Ulpan (learning Hebrew), and the rest of the time studying at Tel Aviv University. My program was a 10-week semester at the university, where I took five classes, three about Israel and its history/politics, one about Judaism and one on the Hebrew language.
I really enjoyed my classes, and the actual school itself; the campus was beautiful. I loved that there were so many international students in the program, allowing me to interact with people from across the globe and develop friendships with people I never would have had the pleasure of meeting in Rhode Island. Because of this program, I now have friends across Europe, whom I will be sure to visit in the future.
Another cool thing about my program was that it offered free trips every other week to awesome places in Israel, like Haifa, the Golan Heights, Jerusalem and Eilat. The trips allowed me to travel throughout the country and truly experience Israel.
During the program, I stayed in nice dorms on the Tel Aviv University campus in Ramat Aviv, which was a great location because it was only a 15-minute bus ride to the heart of Tel Aviv.
I’m extremely thankful that I was given the opportunity to have this experience, both because it gave me the opportunity to see what college is like in Israel and because it allowed me to reconnect with my Israeli family members, whom I’d only seen a couple times in my life. Almost every Friday night, I would go to my aunt’s house for Shabbat dinner; my favorite part of the week!
My time in Israel also included playing pickup basketball with some local Israeli guys, exploring the different parts of Tel Aviv by foot, and finding and eating at amazing restaurants hidden throughout the country. It was really cool interacting with Israelis and getting to know Israel through them, because it made the experience so authentic.
I loved living in Tel Aviv for five months and I highly recommend others do the same - or at least visit.
BEN GOODMAN is a member of Temple Beth-El in Providence. He is a 2016 graduate of Classical High School and is participating in a gap year program sponsored by BBYO. He received a subsidy for this program from the Jewish Alliance. Any resident of Greater Rhode Island through the age of 26 who is interested in grants and/or scholarships to attend programs in Israel should contact Jana Brenman at 401-421-4111, ext. 181. Applications are available on the Jewish Alliance’s website and are due mid-March.