Masa Israel Journey Blog

June 12, 2006


In February 2005, Sergei Chashkin participated in a Birthright israel trip departing from Russia.  By November, Sergei was living in Ramat Hasharon, a suburban community north of Tel Aviv, and participating in Masa-affiliated music program at the Rimon Conservatory.  The academic level and quality of the music studies at Rimon were a primary consideration.  There were other programs in Israel that aroused his interest, sparked by the first visit, but at 20 years old, following three years studying architecture in Russia, he felt he had to pursue his professional goals and not just indulge in the whim of travel and fun.
Sergei grew up in Ekaterinburg, the capital of Ural in Russia, the son of a Jewish mother, and grandson to two Jewish grandparents.  Sergei has a brother, five years his senior.  As a child, he attended a Jewish day camp...
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May 31, 2006
Pictured: Brian Goldfarb and his adoptive parents at the Masa Gala, May 2006
Many Masa-affiliated programs include relationships between adopting Israeli families and young people from abroad spending an extended period of time on a program in Israel.  The Cohen-Ahdut family at Moshav Shekef, adjacent to Kiryat Gat has "adopted" Brian Goldfarb, a participant in Otzma
Brian Goldfarb, the "adoptee" – a 23 year old young man from Skokie, Il is quick to credit the Chicago Jewish Federation for his participation in Otzma.  The photographic imagery comes naturally into the story of his relationship with the Cohen-Ahdut family, in light of his bachelor's degree in Photography and Anat Cohen-Ahdut's artistic inclinations.  Anat is the mother of the host family, an artist and a...
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December 08, 2005
By Roni Ben David, OTZMA
Before I left I didn't expect to be riding a bus in Israel.  But just last week I found myself climbing aboard bus #6 and handing my four shekels to the bus driver, who was exchanging cheerful greetings with the school girls behind me.  I felt completely at ease as we rode past the eggshell-white homes and date palms that line the streets of Ashkelon.
This was not the first time that I have found my previous perceptions of life in Israel proven wrong.  Even as I defended my choice to spend ten months in Israel as a participant of Project Otzma to family and friends, I was secretly harboring my own reservations, shaped by violent televsion images and tragic newspaper headlines.  I expected Israelis to be nervous, depressed, and somewhat biter.  I assumed that my freedom in Israel would be limited,...
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