Masa Israel Journey Blog

Published : February 26, 2014
By Leah Paz, Career Israel

A few months back when I was just starting the Career Israel process, I said that if I could intern with an organization like Save a Child’s Heart (SACH) then I would be unbelievably ecstatic. And here I am a month into my internship, and interning with Save a Child’s Heart is even more perfect than I ever imagined. SACH is an Israeli-based international humanitarian project with a mission of improving quality of pediatic cardiac care for children from developing countries who suffer from heart disease. SACH, as well as my position there, encompasses the variety of interests that I have including non-profit work, health and human rights, public relations, working with college students, and working in a Jewish/ Israeli based organization. (Yes, I have a lot of interests). I am completely confident that this is exactly the right internship for me.
My role at SACH is to work on campaigns, and that involves a few different things. I am going to have a hand in planning a few fundraising events in Tel Aviv, such as a fundraiser at a bar coming up on November 18 and targeted at people on Career Israel and other similar programs. I am also going to be coordinating with Jewish communities at universities across the United States to encourage them and to support them in hosting their own campaigns. This may sound like a lot of responsibility, and I think so too! One of the most exciting parts of this internship is how much of a role I feel I am playing in an organization that I so admire.
After I have spent a few hours in the office I head into the house to spend some time with the children who live there before and after their life saving heart surgery. It not only provides me with such a well-rounded understanding of this inspiring organization, I always leave work in the absolute best mood. Whether I spend time building Lego towers with 4-year-old Mubarik or learning how to count in Amharic from 7-year-old Lidiya, both from Ethiopia, it’s amazing to get to know first-hand the children that SACH is helping. On Tuesdays I go to Wolfson Medical Center in Holon to the Palestinian cardiology clinic to interview the children who come from Gaza and the West Bank to be examined for evaluation, prepared for surgery and for follow-up post surgery. Children are children, no matter where they are from, and SACH knows this. This organization is dedicated to the concept of Tikun Olam and is passionate about making the world a better place by saving the lives of children, no matter their origin, because everyone deserves to live a healthy life.
SACH is only one of the extraordinary Israeli based non-profit organizations that should receive more recognition for the incredible work they are doing. For the past few years while I was at UCLA, the pro-Israel community has hosted a fundraiser for SACH. Now I have realized that this event was something that could and should be so much bigger! Israel is an innovative and progressive country, and Save a Child’s Heart is a prime example of the remarkable things that happen here. My goal on campus was to make it known that Israel is more than the war torn country we see on the news, but a country that is breaking barriers and changing the world for the better through the unmatched humanitarian aid projects such as SACH. That was my aim on my campus and now I get to take that goal on at a much larger scale. And I’m discovering more and more each day that this is something that I want to continue to work on, beyond the conclusion of Career Israel and this internship.
Leah Paz is from Los Angeles, CA and graduated from UCLA with a major in Political Science and minor in Hebrew and Jewish Studies.

Originally published on Career Israel's blog
Photo: courtesy
Published : February 23, 2014
By Allie Freedman, WUJS Israel 

In five months, I went from unemployed college graduate to Jerusalem Post reporter. Clutching my newly minted college degree in my hands, I nervously mulled over my future. All I knew was that I wanted to travel and I wanted to write. As a passionate Zionist, the idea of living in Israel enticed me. Finally, I enrolled in the World Union of Jewish Students (WUJS) program to live and work in Tel Aviv, Israel.
My relationship with WUJS started before I was born. If it was not for WUJS, I would not be here. Literally. In 1983, my American mother and British father met on the WUJS program in Arad. Now, it was my turn to live in Israel.
On September 8, I kissed my parents and brother goodbye and headed toward Tel Aviv. After ten sleepless hours of movies and stale plane food, the plane descended into Ben Gurion Airport. Peering out the window, it suddenly hit me: I’m home.
Carrying half a year of luggage, I took the number 25 bus to Florentine for the first time. Located in South Tel Aviv, Florentine is the Brooklyn of Israel. Filled with aspiring artists, trendy bars and graffiti stained walls, I realized I was not in suburban Maryland anymore. I arrived at apartment 45 and twisted open the door.
“Welcome to the Florentine Mansion!” said my Madricha (counselor), Shani.  I found myself in a two-story Israeli-styled sorority house. Living with seven other WUJS girls, I stepped out onto the balcony overlooking the Tel Aviv skyline. Let’s do this!
Since my parent’s day, WUJS experienced a major facelift. Rather than exploring the Negev, WUJS offers internship programs based in Tel Aviv. As a journalist, I leaped at the chance to intern for The Jerusalem Post.
On my first day, I arrived at a gated building with a small Jerusalem Post sticker on the door. Immediately, one of my Israeli bosses, Sivan, greets me with a huge hug and kiss. After settling in, Sivan pulled out four magazines: Click, Zone, Street and JPost Lite. The magazines taught Israelis how to read and speak English. While the teen magazines were targeted toward school children, JPost Lite was geared toward adults. I soon learned the art of writing in simple English.
For the first two weeks, I focused on the English Improvement magazines. However, I wanted to break into the real Jerusalem Post. Finally, my big break came. I interviewed an Israeli jazz musician, Assaf Shatil, launching his debut album. From there, the assignments poured in. From profiling a Hungarian-German girl who discovered her Jewish identity later in life to covering soccer games between Jewish and Arab children, my portfolio began to thicken. Before long, my stories were headlining the front page of the website and the back cover of the print paper.
The highlight of my journalism career happened on a typical Thursday afternoon. I was packing up to get ready for my weekend when the editor-in-chief rushed in.
“Allie, are you free tomorrow afternoon?”
With the weekends starting on Friday, I was planning on sleeping in and shopping at the Shuk (market) for Shabbat dinner.
“How would you feel about interviewing Cyndi Lauper?”
My jaw dropped. I have never met a celebrity before, let alone interviewed one.  I soon realized: I am no longer an intern. I am a real Jerusalem Post reporter.
After that, I began to pitch stories to the editors myself. My name was passed around the Israeli media world. Public relations coordinators would send me story ideas. However, it was not always easy as a diaspora Jew. I did struggle with the language barrier. On a few pieces, I needed a translator in order to complete interviews. With Hebrew being my biggest nemesis, I barely had a complaint.
In a predominately female office, I had a slew of Jewish mothers taking care of me. From treating me to lunch to surprising me with small presents, I felt home. The Jerusalem Post allowed me to not only grow as a reporter, but as a person too. At the age of 22, I was on top of Israeli media. From interviewing Big Bang Theory’s Mayim Bialik on her recent trip to Israel to featuring Orthodox musicians creating mainstream music, I put my heart and soul into every piece. I was not just writing for myself anymore. I was writing for the people I love. For five months of my life, The Jerusalem Post became my Israeli family.

Allie Freedman of Olney, MD graduated from George Washington University in 2013. Before interning in Israel through Masa Israel Journey, she interned for CBS News, Senator Ben Cardin's office, The World Bank and the Department of Labor. 

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