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4 Months Military Semester in Israel

Krav Maga and Military Training in Tel Aviv, Israel

How would it feel to wear the uniform of the Israel Defense Forces? The Israeli army is an integral part of Israeli society and its presence is felt everywhere in the country. It is difficult to know Israel without an understanding of the army and how the State of Israel defends itself. This track offers you the opportunity to truly immerse yourself into Israel through gaining an understanding of the military from within. Experience Israel like an Israeli through the Marva army program which enables you to become integrated into the army for two months as you learn basic military skills including weapons training. Through the Israeli Military program, you have the chance to gain a deep understanding of this central piece of Israeli society.


  • 8-week Marva program
  • Military Hebrew workshop
  • Multiple field trips and visits included
  • Krav Maga course (hand to hand combat)
  • Meeting influential guest speakers
  • 119 nights accommodation

Skill level

  • Beginner


120 days with instruction in English
Spoken languages: English
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Accommodation is included in the price and varies throughout the whole semester. That is, most of the time, you will stay in apartments. However, since this is a military semester, some days will be spent on the field or base, to give you a real feel of being in the Israel army.



The program may include:

8-week Marva program

Krav Maga course (hand to hand combat)

Combat conditioning

Military Hebrew workshop

Visit to a shooting range

Visit to the IDF museum

Visit to Israel’s tank museum

Visit Ammunition Hill

Meeting influential guest speakers (i.e. from the Michael Levin Center for Lone Soldiers)

Due to the 8-week Marva schedule, academic courses for credit are not offered to those choosing this add-on track.

Marva is an army-simulation program designed to give you a feel for what life is like in the Israel Defense Forces. The program is run in cooperation with the Israeli Army and the Jewish Agency. This co-ed program will have approximately 150 participants ages 18-28 from all over the world including Aardvark Israel participants. In Marva you will wear an Israeli army uniform, carry a gun, and learn survival skills, field training, self-defense, topography, navigation, and more. You will meet Israeli soldiers while hiking and touring throughout the country.

During the Marva period, you will be in the army and spend some weekends at home in your Aardvark apartment. Each student is required to apply and be accepted to the Marva program (acceptance is within the sole discretion of Marva and is based on Aardvark’s recommendation combined with the participant demonstrating that s/he is both physically and mentally well and has no prior history that may prevent the successful completion of the program). Please note, the army requires that all male participants arrive on the opening day of Marva with a very short haircut.

Marva sample weekly schedule:

Week One: Introduction. This week will be spent in the home base of Sde Boker becoming familiar with army discipline and codes, learning first aid and topography and basic information about the IDF. In addition, participants will undergo weapons training during which they will learn how to use an M-16 rifle, and at the end of the week they will experience their first shooting range and first march/hike (approx. 5 km). Shabbat is spent on base.

Week Two: Field Training. This week will be spent outside of the base in field conditions (no bathrooms or showers!) Participants will learn how to be a soldier in the field through lessons on topics such as camouflage, ambushes, training exercises and survival training in both day and night. Shabbat is free.

Week Three: Negev and Navigation Week. Throughout the week there will be a variety of activities in the Negev area including a visit to an infantry base, a joint exercise with the soldiers there, and intense walking. At the end of the week Marva soldiers climb Masada at sunrise. Shabbat is spent on the base.

Week Four: Galilee/Golan Week. During this week Marva stays at a base in the north. Participants have the opportunity to tour around the north, including the border with Lebanon.

Week Five: Sport. This week is spent on an army base. There, participants undergo intensive physical training including fitness, obstacle courses, self-defense and more. Shabbat is spent on the base.

Week Six: Women in the Army/ Infantry week. During this week the men and women will be separated for the first and only time in the program. Shabbat is free.

Women: The week will be spent visiting several army bases and learning about the opportunities for the female soldier in the IDF.

Men: The week will be spent doing infantry training at a base in the South. Training includes learning to use heavy weaponry as well as group exercises.

Week Seven: Jerusalem week. This week is spent learning about the three different religions in Jerusalem and exploring the old and new city. The weekend is spent on base.

Week Eight: Summation. This week is dedicated to ending lessons and discussions, a final 18km march, and a military graduation ceremony.

Krav Maga

Krav Maga Overview

Krav Maga is a practical and tactical system which teaches how to prevent, deal, and overcome all kinds of violence and attacks. Krav Maga prepares the trainees in the subjects of self-defence, self protection, fighting and combat skills, as well as skills to defend others, all in unique and comprehensive teachings and way. Krav-Maga was developed in Israel, under realistic demands and conditions.

Krav Maga is a horizontal system with a unique and logical approach. It is easy to learn and retain, performed naturally and intuitively, and practically be used under stressful conditions. An essential part of Krav Maga is its teaching process, methodology and ways of training.

Krav-Maga includes the subjects of:

Prevention, avoidance, escape, and evasion.

Dealing with throws and falls to all directions and angles.

Attacks and counterattacks, performed to all targets, distances, ranges, heights, angles, directions and in all rhythms. Executed from all positions and postures. Use of all sorts of common objects for defensive purposes.

Defending all unarmed attacks: punches, strikes and kicks. Releases from all sorts of grabs and holds. Defending all armed attacks and threats of knife and sharp objects; of sticks bars and other blunt objects; of all kind of firearms.

Dealing with the above attacks when sent from all possible directions and places; When are performed by a single or multiple attackers; when attacks occur in all possible places, positions and postures. Including in confined or open areas; in an ally, staircase, car; On all types of grounds; In water; when free or in limited space of movement; While standing, on the move, sitting down, laying down on the back, side or facing down.

Physical and mental control and disarm.

Krav Maga prepares the trainees to function in all circumstances and scenarios, in all combat and fighting environments, according to their needs, risks they are facing and job descriptions. Krav Maga enables and brings technical, tactical, physical and mental growth and improvements.

Krav-Maga contains special approaches, tactics, techniques, subjects, drills, and training methods for the different sectors: civilians of all ages, men and women, young and old; law-enforcement officers; military personnel and units; correction service officers and wardens; security officers; close protection officers; undercover agents; anti-terrorists groups; air-marshals; special and commando units.

Krav Maga History

The art of Krav Maga was founded by Imi Lichtenfeld (Sde - Or). Imi was born in Bratislava to a renowned police officer and circus acrobat. As a child, Imi excelled in various sports such as wrestling and boxing and practiced several martial arts. When anti-semite riots began to spread through his home town, Imi and his family were forced to immigrate to Israel (Palestine at the time).

In 1948, once Israel had declared its independence, IDF's (Israeli Defense Force) officials approached Imi and requested him to develop a system of self defense and fighting based upon his experience and his work with special forces units as the 'Hagana', 'Palmach', and 'Palyam'.

During his 20 years of service as chief instructor of hand-to-hand combat, Imi carefully refined the methods of Krav Maga, making it the official combative training for all military personnel, Israeli police, and security forces. Imi developed a doctrine enabling both fit and out-of-shape soldiers to practice it successfully. Rather than rigid movements and techniques requiring years of training, Krav Maga integrated instinctive and simple moves accessible to all.

In 1964, Imi retired from the IDF and continued teaching Krav Maga to civilians, as well as law enforcement units and military applications. The Krav Maga association was founded by Imi and several of his students in 1978, aiming to promote Krav Maga's unique techniques locally and throughout the world.

Aardvard Israel

Aardvark Israel’s mission is to bring together in Israel a diverse group of students from all over the world for meaningful, life-changing experiences that strengthen their Jewish identity, deepen their commitment to Israel, and foster their personal growth.

They recognize that every student has a different set of objectives for their Israel experience and thus they offer a menu of opportunities allowing students to personalize their program in Israel. Within the core program, there are a wide variety of activities offered, and additional add-on options are also available for those who wish to customize their year even further.

The Goals of Aardvark Israel are for participants to:

Love, advocate for, and contribute to Israel

Love Judaism

Strengthen their connection to the worldwide Jewish People

Grow as a person and have fun in the process

Aardvark Israel operates in conjunction with MASA, which is a project of the Government of Israel and Jewish communities around the world, represented by the Jewish Agency for Israel and its partners, United Jewish Communities / the Federations of North America, and Keren Hayesod – UIA. Other partners include the American Jewish University and the NJY Camps.

Included excursions

Many tours around Israel and visits to museums are included in the program.


Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv has become one of the hottest travel destinations on the planet, with rave reviews from travel magazines, TV pundits, and good old-fashioned word of mouth. “Best for Style,” “Best Urban Beaches,” “Best Gay Destination,” “Best Foodie Scene,” and “Best Nightlife” - these are just a few of the accolades heaped on the city. It’s not exotic or charismatic, like Jerusalem. Nor is it a magnificent world capital, like Paris. It’s not even picturesque, like Amsterdam. But the lively, creative spirit of the people of Tel Aviv, mixed with miles of easy-going beaches and Mediterranean surf, make this a city with real personality.

That being said, Tel Aviv is everything Jerusalem is not. The city was founded much later, in 1909, to be exact, along a gorgeous strip of beach on the Mediterranean. Known locally as the Big Orange, Tel Aviv has no holy sites and until its founding, it had no history. What it does have is oyster bars, nightclubs, samba sessions on the beach on summer evenings, and miles and miles of massive medium-rise apartment buildings. In summer, the heat and humidity can put New Orleans to shame, but a short walk or bus ride can always get you to the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean.

As the country’s commercial center and also the cultural capital, Tel Aviv buzzes with the energy of high-powered business deals from around the globe. Glass skyscrapers dot the city’s landscape; and more are under construction. But Tel Avivians also love to relax and play. In the 1980s, the city’s beaches were smartly renewed, and they are now among the cleanest and most easily accessible urban beaches in the world. The 1990s saw the construction of an opera house, new performing-arts centers, and the development of a rarefied luxury restaurant scene. If peace is able to develop, many envision 21st century Tel Aviv as the financial Singapore of a new Middle East, but with a glossy Miami Beach veneer.

Tel Avivians are also busy preserving, gentrifying, and recycling neglected landmarks and neighborhoods. The formerly derelict Tel Aviv Port, at the northern end of the city, is now the hottest spot in town, wall-to-wall with inventive eateries, market events, pubs, and shops overlooking the sea. Restored Old Jaffa is a romantic enclave of medieval buildings and cobblestone streets. It’s great for evening dining and strolling, and it’s loved by visitors and Israelis alike.

Elsewhere in Tel Aviv, you’ll see the delightful 1930s and early 1940s Bauhaus/International Style buildings that once defined the city’s ultramodern image. In the 1930s, many refugee architects and designers from Germany sought shelter in Palestine. For them, the sands of Tel Aviv provided an opportunity to create a dazzling metropolis of the future based on clean, functional lines. By the beginning of World War II, Tel Aviv had burgeoned into a garden of ultramodern, white concrete architectural wonders - the curvilinear balconies and rounded corners of Tel Aviv’s building boom were featured in architectural journals throughout the world.

But despite its architectural pizzazz, 1930s Tel Aviv was not a sleek, perfectly planned utopia. Many of the dazzlingly photographed buildings admired by the outside world were filled with old-fashioned workshops. In summer, the broad, futuristic streets (designed by architects whose hearts were still in pre-1933 Berlin) sweltered under the sun and blocked whatever evening breezes might blow in from the sea.

After Israeli independence, Tel Aviv mushroomed, first with refugee camps and temporary housing for the hundreds of thousands of Holocaust survivors who poured into the country; and later with vast, drab housing projects. During the austere 1950s, Tel Aviv, although a young city, became run-down, especially around its downtown center. The beach, one of Tel Aviv’s strong points, piled up with garbage. The ultra-modern buildings of the 1930s and early 1940s, constructed of sand bricks, began to crumble. The city offered little in the way of museums, hotels, or restaurants, and word was out that Tel Aviv was a hot, humid, concrete heap, ungainly and uninteresting.

In the past 30 years, however, Tel Aviv has been undergoing a carefully nurtured revolution. The beach, only a few blocks from anywhere in the city center, has made a spectacular comeback. Performing groups, ranging from the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and the Cameri Theater to the New Israel Opera, have put Tel Aviv on the cultural map. And innovative, lively museums abound.

Tel Aviv now incorporates the once-separate city of Jaffa, which does have a history going back thousands of years (the Prophet Jonah lived in this seaport before his encounter with the whale). If you climb the hill of Old Jaffa and look northward toward Tel Aviv’s shoreline, you’ll see a city that stands on the threshold of majesty—an amazing achievement for a metropolis that’s merely 100 years old.


The cost of most meals is not included in the price of the program. Aardvark Israel staff will work with the students in each apartment to develop a system whereby everyone contributes evenly to the purchase of groceries and preparing meals together so as to most efficiently and cost effectively live together. Families should plan on their child spending approximately USD 1500 on grocery costs over the course of the year or USD 750 per semester. In the past, students and their families are most satisfied by having this type of control over their dietary needs and when not required to eat in a communal dining room.

Things to do (optional)

Many tours and activities will be included to explore Israel, understand the Jewish culture, and increase knowledge about Judaism, besides the military and martial arts training. You won't be bored a single minute of the semester.

What's included

  • 119 nights accommodation
  • 8-week Marva program
  • Field trips
  • Krav Maga course
  • Local transportation
  • Medical insurance
  • Seminar fees
  • Training in military conditions
  • Tuition

What's not included

  • Airfare travel to and from Israel
  • Food
  • Personal expenses
  • Travel insurance

How to get there

Arrival by airplane

Arrive at Tel Aviv (TLV) and an Aardvard Israel representative will arrange to pick you up at the airport.

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