The Journey of a Lifetime – 6223 Miles Away from Home

Summary: I will be spending next year in Israel while competing in the Maccabiah Games, building homes and bio-farming in the Golan Heights, volunteering with Magen David Adom (Israel’s emergency medical response team) and working on the Israeli Defense Forces’ army base (Marva program).
I’m 18 years old, a recent graduate of St. Paul Central High School, and I’m about to spend all of next year in Israel. WOWZA!! That’s a lot of change for a Twin Cities kid, whose longest time spent away from his family was at Jewish summer camp (shout-out to Herzl Camp).
Living in Israel will be unlike any experience I’ve ever been through, but my excitement dwarfs my anxiety.
So what am I doing in Israel?
A lot. Let me break it down.

Starting July 9th, I’ll be training with five other elite American Jewish athletes to compete in Taekwondo sparring at the 2013 Maccabiah Games in Israel.  We’ll be training in Israel’s Olympic Training Center, running dozens of miles, kicking till exhaustion etc.

All six of us will also be participating in a program called “Israel Connect” where we’ll see all the main tourist sites together(#MiniBirthright). The Maccabiah Games is the 3rd largest sporting event in the world with over 10,000 athletes!! (NOT to be confused with the JCC Maccabi Games, where the main sport is flirting with other cute Jews)

2005 Maccabiah Games Opening Ceremony

2005 Maccabiah Games Opening Ceremony

After my fellow American athletes return to America, I will be staying a few days with my family in Israel. Eating delicious food and exploring Israel on my own sweet time.
Next, I’ll be going on a GoEco program at the Nimrod Eco Lodge in the Golan Heights. I will help construct sustainable buildings and learn bio-farming (type of organic farming). During the weekends or my free time, I intend to explore the ancient ruins of the Nimrod Fortress, hike in Mount Hermon and swim in the beautiful waterfalls of the Banias.
Nimrod Fortress in Golan Heights

Nimrod Fortress in Golan Heights

Then after that I will spend the next ~10 months (late August – June) on a program called Aardvark Israel. I will live for the first 5 months in Tel Aviv where I will serve as a first responder in an ambulance as part of Magen David Adom, Israel’s emergency medical response team. The second 5 months in Jerusalem I will be working on the Israeli Defense Forces army base as part of an educational program called “Marva“.  I will have the chance to go through basic training, learn Krav Maga and shoot an M16 on the base! (most of the time I’ll be doing maintenance/chores).
During my time with Aardvark Israel I won’t just be working…I’ll also be having lots of fun and wonderful adventures. I will have an apartment in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem that I’ll share with a few roommates.
During those ten months I’ll be living in apartments with some roommates…who I’ve never met but anyone who would want to spend a  year in Israel must be pretty awesome 🙂
Now for the best part…YOU will be on the journey with me!
Throughout the course of next year I will blog about my year-long adventure on TCJewfolk. You’ll be able to hear about all of my experiences and see photos/videos in every blog post.
Thank you all for reading!!
Israel…HERE I COME!!!
ps. Minnesota is 6223 miles away from Israel.
Please comment below if you have any thoughts or questions about my trip.