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How To Survive Your First Weeks In Israel


When you make the choice to come and study in Israel, it’s hard to imagine being away from your family and friends. You wonder how you’ll fit into Israeli society, how you’ll deal with the Israeli administration, how you’ll manage at school, how you’ll make your own food, do your own laundry… The list goes on. Don’t worry and don’t panic! I’ve been there and I’ve learned quite a few things already, and I’m going to share them with you. 

its time to change

You may be beginning to adjust and calm down, and you may not be there just yet (which is also okay). You’re probably in disbelief that you’re actually here, in Israel, and that you won’t be home for months. You’re exhausted and you’re moody and that’s okay. We’re here to remind you that everything you’re going through is completely NORMAL. You don’t need to believe me just yet, but this really will be an incredible year. A year of fun, a year of laughs, a year of new friendships, and a year of growth. You definitely made the right decision by coming to Israel this year.

actualize your dreams

Here are a few tips and apps that will make your life easier so you can fully enjoy this amazing adventure you’re on.


“Top Must Knows To Survive Your First Weeks In Israel”

  1. Join the Moshiko lifestyle right away. (Moshiko: a. the man working at ‘Sabres’, a fruit juice stand in the center of town, b. your new best friend.)
  2. School days feel long, but you’ll adjust quickly. Two hours of core can feel like much at first, but trust me, you will appreciate it.
  3. When the madrichim say lights out at 11:30, respect it. Even if you might not feel tired right then (doubtful), try to go to sleep- you’ll be so grateful the next day.
  4. Go ahead and try out blogging. You’re going to want to remember all the memories, and so much happens on your gap year that just one day feels like a lifetime of experiences.
  5.  Your roommates are going to end up being your brothers and sisters. Help them clean-up for inspection, and share your food!
  6. Don’t be afraid to try new foods and meet new people — Milken isn’t the only group on campus! (By new foods, we mean sabich. Try sabich. Really try sabich).
  7.  Definitely explore the Hod, but don’t eat out constantly. Learn to be creative with the dining hall food, because there is ALWAYS something to eat.
  8. When your core teachers want you to bring a hat and 1.5 liters of water for the Tiyul, they mean it. They will check if you have them, and if you do, they will buy you ice cream. (Or promise to!)
  9. Don’t stress about roommates or classes. Everything works out in the end, and you have so many support systems in place to help. You can always reach out to your teachers and madrichim for help! Remember to be open-minded and revel in the best four months of your life.

support each other

“How To Survive Shabbat While In Seminary”

Now that you’re more or less  independent you get to take on the joy of how to get a Shabbat invite. People know that girls always need places for Shabbat and are always inviting them over for a meal or two. But, it can be really hard to reach out to people that you don’t know well and ask for an invite. It also doesn’t help that you need to have your Shabbat plans organized by Wednesday morning, which means in reality as soon as Shabbat is over you already need to begin to plan for the next week. Of course your seminary would never leave you to fully fend for yourselves, they keep a current list of families that have offered to host lovely girls for Shabbat. You can always stay at your dorm and cook for yourself, the catch being you must always be with a friend, and often they are always away for Shabbat.

Enjoy Shabbat

I have heard many stories from many seminary alums that they always felt very welcomed and had amazing experiences meeting new people over these Shabbatot. But, there is always that rare chance that a host family takes advantage of you and tries to use you for household chores and childcare. While this can be a good life skill to help for the future,  don’t feel obligated to do something that you’re uncomfortable with; Shabbat is supposed to be an enjoyable time. You should also check out a new program “Anywhere in Israel”  that helps gap year students to choose places that interest them. You can pick communities and locations that they want to visit and the program takes care of the rest.

I also suggest to check out the following:

  1. Teach your children how to act in the homes they are visiting. Check out the following website http://www.anywhereinisrael.org/.
  2. If you’re spending a lot of time in the home of a certain family, send a note to the family thanking them. Consider sending a gift as well.

Overall though if you keep an open mind you can benefit so much from the hospitality of others. It is a great way to see how different families share Shabbat.


Nothing can possibly prepare you better for your future than what you’re about to do over these next few months. All of these gap year programs are designed to allow you to grow and learn in the most positive of environments. This isn’t school and won’t be graded or punished. It’s all up to you and attitude is everything. So push yourself. Seize every opportunity thrown your way.

Have deep conversations. Learn from the people around you- whether they’re your teachers, lecturers, peers, or bus drivers. Get to know the land, it’s yours. Be open to new ideas. And most importantly, let this year change you. That is what you’re here for, after all…

As always I look forward to hearing from you and stay tuned for my next blog, top apps for getting around town.

Beth Zuckerman
Beth Zuckerman
Beth is a former Upper Westsider, who made aliyah 8 years ago. She is a coffee addict and a lover of classical rock. Beth is the content and marketing manager at talknsave, in that order.

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