In this guest blog, current GAP year student, Gabriella Swartz, shares her feelings and personal experiences about being on GAP year in Israel during these turbulent times.

As a gap year student, people often ask me, "Why did you choose to come during such turbulent times?" Some even question if I am affected by the war happening around me. Here is what I think...

Embarking on my transformative journey during my GAP year has been an enlightening experience, guiding me to perceive this year not merely as a gap year in our beloved homeland Israel, but as a profound leap into the realm of self-discovery.

Inspired by the timeless wisdom of Tennyson's verse, "I am a part of all that I have met," I've embarked on a quest to delve into the depths of my heritage, unravelling the intricate threads of my identity.

The impact of October 7th on Am Yisrael and my attempts to establish a closer bond with our nation come to the forefront in this context. Ultimately, I believe that we all are parts of a whole, our collective entity pulsating with one unified, harmonious heartbeat.

My time spent in Israel appears distinct from the rest. I have attended seminars and Shabbatons where I witnessed innocent civilians being evicted from their homes. I embarked on journeys to the southern territories and volunteered at various farms. Although the incident on October 7th attempted to break us down, we, Am Yisrael, stand unified and resolute, refusing to let this event overcome us.

This is an enriching opportunity to be in Israel, especially during a time of war. The incredible unity I witness, the unimaginable comfort I observe, and the admirable strength I see among people, all of these are truly commendable.

October 7th has emerged as an important event for gap year students, igniting within us a spirit of resilience and exploration. Like the protagonist in Tennyson's "Ulysses," we endeavor, explore, and confront challenges head-on, refusing to succumb to the trials of adversity. Instead, we embrace them, fostering our zeal for knowledge and personal growth with unyielding courage.

I encourage everyone to embark on their preferred gap year journey. Use this opportunity to transform yourself into an intrinsic part of Am Yisrael.

About the Author

My name is Gabriella Swartz. I am 19 years old. I am from Johannesburg, South Africa. I am currently on a Bnei Akiva Gap year program attending Midreshet Harova. I am passionate about Tanach and I love exploring Israel.