Hometown: Albany, NY
University: Fashion Institute of Technology – Advertising and Graphic Design
I chose to participate in WUJS…
After my husband and I made a last minute decision to come to Israel for the year. I was looking for a program that I could learn Hebrew, advance professionally, and still be able to travel and see the country as this is only my 2nd time in Israel. It was very important to me that I did not let this year go to waste professionally. I wanted to keep practicing graphic design, but break my way into the Jewish work world. I hope to return to the US and do graphics work for a Jewish organization (anyone want to hire me?). I work at Matan Media doing graphics for Young Judaea. I am currently creating a Facebook and Google Ad Campaign for Young Judaea’s gap year program, Year Course. In my field, Facebook and online marketing is very hot right now. Here I am in Jerusalem enhancing my resume and work experience and after work I can go to the shuk and haggle over a sweet potato. Life is good!
What are the tracks like on WUJS?
It was not my original plan to participate in 2 tracks on WUJS, when I met the Ofra the art’s track teacher I immediately fell in love. With my years of Art History this opportunity to learn about the history of Jewish and Israeli art sounded amazing. And it is amazing! The classes and trips we have are well planned, interesting and I find myself sharing and teaching my family and friends what I learn in my classes. My passion and love for art was established in college. Now, as I participate in my WUJS art’s track classes they have helped strengthen my Zionist ideas and connection to the State of Israel.
What’s one of your favorite moments in Israel?
I loved spending the High Holidays in Jerusalem. One image I will never forget is seeing a orthodox man on his scooter and kittel (white robe) on his way to Kol Nidre. That’s when it hit me, I’m in Jerusalem, I’m a majority! The silence of the city for all of Yom Kippur truly enhanced the day, and as soon as the sun went down, and people enjoyed their food, the streets echoed with hammers and nails as residents built their sukkot. Where else in the world can you experience this? I am a New Yorker and am used to being surrounded by Jews, but I have found that there’s something in Jerusalem for everyone. Bars are packed at 3am on Thursdays with 20 somethings. H&M just opened in the Malka Mall, the restaurants are amazing, affordable,and Kosher! I have found that no matter what my friend’s level of observance is they have found a love for shabbat, sitting around the table with friends, eating, singing and drinking. What is usually said? “When in Rome do as the Romans do!”
What’s been most challenging?
I thought it was really going to be hard keeping in touch with family and I’d feel 6,000 miles awaySkype has actually kept us closer, being able to see everyone’s faces on. Thanksgiving made the day go by much easier. What’s even better is when you’re in Israel so many people come to visit! I came to Israel really wanting to learn Hebrew. It’s harder than I thought it would be! Being in Jerusalem everyone speaks English so it’s very hard to practice. I loved our Ulpan program, the teachers are our peers and we play games and practice our Hebrew for practical situations. It has been a challenge keeping up with the work, practicing in between class and feeling confident speaking out on the street.
Tell us about your other world travels:
We had a short Hanukkah break. My husband and I took a trip to Paris. We don’t know a word of French, we passed a clothing store close to the Moulin Rouge. As we shopped we were nervous because we had questions, but how would be communicate in our non existent French? I look over and see a Hamsa on the wall, that’s usually a strong clue to speak Hebrew or defiantly NOT to speak Hebrew. I look closer and he has a “birkat hanoot” (blessing of the store) hung on the wall. Soon enough we said “Efshar medabear ivrit?” (can we speak hebrew?) His face lit up and started speaking Hebrew a mile a minute. Soon enough we were saying “le’at le’at” (slower slower!) He was an Israeli who grew up right outside of Tel Aviv and we know we made his night! This was not the first time our Hebrew has come in handy in our travels, now after 3 months of Ulpan I’m actually able to participate in these world wide encounters! After our year in Israel we are spending the month of June backpacking across Europe and visiting close to 9 different countries. We’re excited to continue to explore the world and then return to “normal life” back in the states in July.