Fair Lawn native and drama enthusiast Levi Rybalov is making the most of his gap year at Bar Ilan University in Israel.
The 18-year-old Rybalov, who is deferring college for a year to attend Bar Ilan's Israel Experience program, recently starred as the lead actor in the university's production of "Missing the Mark," a farcical comedy that follows a pair of conniving high schoolers posing as Hollywood producers.
"The character I played was a conniving, manipulative, cunning, heartless con artist trying to steal money from a bunch of almost oblivious women," said Rybalov, who previously took on comedic roles with Fair Lawn High School's Masques club. "Although the character didn't have much substance he was a lot of fun to play."
At Bar Ilan, Rybalov attends Jewish study seminars in the morning and takes academic courses at the university's Ramat Gan campus, just north of Tel Aviv, in the afternoon. The credits he earns are transferrable to American universities like the City University of New York, where he hopes to study next year -- although he's not totally sure yet what path he'll pursue.
"I enjoy theatre, history and chemistry and it also wouldn't be too much of a stretch to study physics next year," he said.
In addition to honing his acting skills, Rybalov has had the opportunity to advance some of his more academic interests at Bar Ilan through his assigned work experience placement. Because of his interest in the sciences, Rybalov was assigned to assist the research of a doctoral student at the university's Nanotechnology Institute.
"There are lots of opportunities to get involved on campus," he said. "The more you go to the more you get out of the program."