Basic medical insurance is provided by the program. Coverage includes doctor’s visits, medications, and emergency care for most illnesses and incidents which may arise during the program. Pre-existing conditions are excluded, as well as other limitations applying, therefore students are encouraged to maintain their own private health insurance from their country of origin. Specific information detailing the medical insurance policy is made available to participants’ families prior to the start of the program. In addition, upon arrival to Israel, students will be briefed about how to use the health services and which local English-speaking doctors and pharmacies are recommended.
Urgent psychological care is also provided by the program for students in crisis. All psychological treatment is kept strictly confidential between the student and the therapist.
Safety and Security
The Aardvark Israel Gap Year and Semester Programs will operate as a part of the Masa program of the Jewish Agency. We receive security updates on an ongoing basis and adjust security guidelines for the students accordingly (this includes restricting their free time when necessary). When going out on excursions and hikes we always obtain clearance and guidance from the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel. All students are required to have a cellular phone from Israel Phones which allows the program staff to utilize the technology to locate all students in the event of an emergency. Furthermore, all the phones are united in one text messaging service so we can send immediate guidelines and warnings to students if the situation warrants.
In addition to the experienced senior staff of Aardvark Israel, highly qualified counselors are assigned to each location and work with the participants for the duration of the year. Counselors are all college graduates or have completed the Israeli army and are all fluent in English. While giving students the space to explore and learn to be more independent, the counselors are also a distinct presence in the day to day lives of participants serving as mentors and role models to the students.
The Aardvark Israel Gap Year and Semester Programs have a multi-denominational approach to Judaism. Both our staff and students represent a wide range of Jewish observance and affiliation. Students who are Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Orthodox or still seeking to define themselves will all find an accommodating program with Aardvark Israel. This approach to pluralism helps strengthen the Jewish people and expose students to new individuals and ideas. We want to serve as a microcosm that models cohesive group living and Jewish identification across a wide spectrum. Kosher kitchens and supplies will be provided for all participants who request them (including for students who change their mind during the year.) At all program-sponsored activities where food is provided by the program, kosher food will be available (this includes the world travel program.) Although many of participants are not Sabbath-observant, those who wish to observe Shabbat will find a supportive environment within the program for doing so and those who wish to explore their Judaism will have opportunities to experience the magic of Shabbat.