Program Description

Eco-Israel offers Jewish young adults the opportunity to embrace permaculture and sustainable living through intensive hands-on experience and coursework on an organic farm. Upon completion of the program you will receive an internationally recognized certificate in permaculture design. Based at the Hava & Adam Eco-Educational farm in Modi’in (located halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv) Eco-Israel allows you to explore how ecology, Judaism, and Israel blend together in a working model of a self-sustaining ecological community.
The Hava & Adam Eco-Educational Farm is completely dependent upon the energy, creative resources, and time of its residents. All members of the farm, including a group of young Israelis on a year of service, share responsibility in running the site and making it their home. As a large family, you will cook with your fellow residents eat together and work alongside them.
For more information, contact:
Israel: +972-54-6773891

Featured Photos

Featured Photos

The Forward: 8 Foods you Didn't Know Jews Eat During Hanukkah

The Forward: 8 Foods you Didn't Know Jews Eat During Hanukkah

The Forward: 8 Foods you Didn't Know Jews Eat During Hanukkah

December 8, 2016

This piece was contributed by Masa Israel Journey — for more information, click here.

This year, like every year since I was a child, I started counting down the days to Hanukkah before the first blow of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah. I just can’t wait for the one week when it’s socially acceptable – and dare I say expected – to eat fried foods every day. Most Americans crave the smells of pine trees and gingerbread — I crave the smells of latkes and jelly-filled donuts


In recent years, especially after meeting my Sephardic husband and participating in a Masa Israel program, I’ve come to learn there’s much more to Hanukkah than latkes and donuts. For example, we included rice in this year’s Pesach meal (which in my book is a total win #AshkenaziProbs) and during Sukkot we ate pumpkin-filled samsas (the Bukharian version of Samosas).


If you’ve ever been in Israel during Hanukkah, then you know every bakery window from the North to the South are filled with more flavors of sufganiyot (doughnuts) then one can imagine. But you probably didn’t realize Jews around the world also eat these delicious treats during Hanukkah:


Keftes De Prasa


Keftes De Prasa

Wikimedia Commons


Keftes are any form of fried vegetables or other ingredients (ie: croquets, patties, pancakes, fritters) in Sephardic cuisine. Keftes de prasa are fried leek patties - Imagine a latke, but swap the potatoes for leeks - traditionally eaten on Hanukkah. For a Syrian twist on the keftes de prasa, sauté the leeks in spices like allspice and cinnamon.


Recipe Here





Wikimedia Commons


Buñelos (also known as bimuelo, birmuelo, bermuelo, burmuelo, bonuelo or bunyol), are fried balls of dough finished off with a sweet topping, like orange or anise glaze. Originating in Spain, these sweet treats can also be found in South American, Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine. From Egypt to Ecuador, Sephardic Jews traditionally eat buñelos on Hanukkah, while their Christian and Muslim neighbors eat them on Christmas and Ramadan.


Recipe Here





Wikimedia Commons


Sfenj is the Arabic word for sponge and perfectly describes these yeast doughnuts that Jews of North African descent eat on Hanukkah. Finish off these bad boys by covering them in sugar, soaking them in honey, or sprinkling them with orange zest.


Recipe Here





Alessandra Rovati


Cassola is popular amongst Italian Jews during Hanukkah and is more or less known as the unofficial Christmas dessert of Italy. However, let it be known the Jews invented this baked ricotta cheesecake, which over time turned into large sweet ricotta pancakes.


Recipe Here


Pasta Latkes




That’s right, pasta latkes are a thing.. A gift from the Romanian Jewish community, substitute fine egg pasta for potatoes, fry until golden, and voila!


Recipe Here


Kibbet Yatkeen


Kibbet Yatkeen are the Syrian community’s version of latkes. These bad boys are made with pumpkin and bulgur instead of potatoes. If you get your hands on them, be careful they may come with a kick!


Recipe Here


Frittelle di Riso Par Hanukkah


Frittelle di Riso Par Hanukkah



The Italians dominate the Hanukkah food game with another decadent dessert. Frittelle di Riso par Hanukkah, otherwise known as Italian Rice Fritters, are a sweet alternative to the savory latke.


Recipe Here


Gulab Jamun


Gulab Jamun



Gulab Jamun, you probably can’t pronounce this decadent treat, and that’s okay. Gulab jamun, pronounced more or less like goo-lab-ja-mon is commonly eaten by Jews of Indian decent during Hanukkah. Gulab Jamon is a dairy-based sweet made of milk solids that are formed into a dough, rolled into balls, fried and then soaked in a sugary syrup. Is your mouth watering yet?


Recipe Here


Whether you’re looking for sweet or savory, members of the tribe around the world have plenty of tasty alternatives to your usual Chanukah nosh. Now, you just have to decide where to start.


Originally published in The Forward

Jewish Federation of Cleveland: Daniella's Gap Year Experience

Jewish Federation of Cleveland: Daniella's Gap Year Experience

December 6, 2016

Getting ready for high school graduation can be a stressful time. Many students wonder what they will study and where they'll go to college. There’s one more option to add to the list that takes the pressure off: Masa Gap Year.


Daniella Israelstam

Daniella Israelstam (second from left) spending time with friends while on Masa Gap Year in Israel.

Masa Gap Year is a program funded through the Jewish Federation of Cleveland’s I-Connect initiative, helping young adults, ages 18-30 pick their perfect Israel travel experience.


“This is a life changing experience for the children who participate,” said Beachwood’s Loren and Keith Israelstam, whose daughter, Daniella, spent 10 months in Israel exploring and growing in a safe and nurturing environment.


“Daniella approached us about it. She knew she didn’t want to go straight to college after high school,” said Loren. “She was going to Israel. She was going home.”


During those 10 months abroad, Daniella had the opportunity to tutor Israeli students in English, farm a green space at a local high school, and work at Save a Child’s Heart, a non-profit organization which provides life-saving cardiac surgeries and procedures to children around the world.


“There are several benefits of the Gap Year program to take advantage,” said Mirit Balkan, who runs I-Connect at the Federation, who recognizes that some high school seniors finish their final year feeling exhausted and not as ready for that ‘next big commitment.’ “Gap year is an energizer allowing students to further prepare for their first year in college,” she said.


Daniella Israelstam

Gap Year participants can earn up to 30 transferrable university credits, allowing them to get a jump start on their college career.s the pressure off: Masa Gap Year.


According to Michael Novogratz, president of Fortress Investment Group, when it’s time to prepare for the working world, more often CEO’s will hire applicants who have experienced life overseas through a work-abroad program.


"We interview a lot of kids, and they always want an internship at Goldman Sachs," Novogratz said. "I tell them, ‘I'm a big fan of the Gap Year. Go do something different. Create a story where you learn something."


According to Loren, “Children grow up; they become more independent,” while on Gap Year. “Every Jewish child should be able to experience a year in Israel with their peers from around the world; they should have that same love of Judaism and they should be doing it together.”


For information on Masa Israel’s Gap Year Program, please contact Mirit Balkan at or 216-593-2921.


Israel experiences like Daniella's are made possible by your generosity to the Campaign for Jewish Needs. Join us as we aspire to leave no community member behind in Cleveland, Israel, and 70 Countries around the globe. Donate today.


Originally published on the Jewish Federation of Cleveland blog

The Forward: Why Take a Gap Year? Ask Me or Malia Obama

The Forward: Why Take a Gap Year? Ask Me or Malia Obama

The Forward: Why Take a Gap Year? Ask Me or Malia Obama

December 5, 2016

By Allison Abrams, Young Judaea Year Course,


Although I did not grow up in the White House, Malia Obama and I are alike in that we both understand the merits of taking a gap year, which many students dream of doing – and few have the chutzpah to take on. We are both fortunate to have two college-educated, loving, and supportive parents who expected us to go to highly regarded universities after high school. I assume that for a while, we both expected it of ourselves, too. As grounded young women, we chose, however, to go on a gap year first.

I consider myself more independent and street-smart than the average American teenager: I grew up in Queens, commuted to high school in Manhattan by subway, and learned how to navigate the five boroughs on my own. I was more prepared than many of my peers to enroll in a program like Young Judaea Year Course in Israel, where we are given almost complete independence. When we are not in class or programming, our time is our own. The friends I have met through this program have been struggling with the transition since we arrived two months ago. I notice, for example, their anxiety about riding public buses, while I hop on and off all day.


Malia Obama


As an idealist-optimist with varied interests – including music, comedy, social justice, Israel, and Judaism – deciding on a single major in college seems a daunting task. It appears there are a thousand things I want to accomplish, and while high school may have broadened the scope of my interests, it didn’t help me hone in on a specific academic focus.


I am confident this year in Israel will reveal the cracks in these questions: What do I truly want to do with my life? How can I best apply my passions to make a positive impact on the world?


A gap year gives ambitious students like myself a full year of learning, experiencing, and volunteering to reflect upon where we want to leave our mark in life. I don’t believe that taking the traditional route straight to college after high school would have guaranteed me a more successful career, or happier life. I believe that learning outside the classroom on a gap year takes so many different shapes; I know I will be even more prepared for whatever career path I choose.


My dad went on the same gap year program in Israel when he was my age, and has always told me it was the “best year” of his life. He spent months living and working on Young Judaea’s Kibbutz Ketura, and he still uses the Hebrew he picked up. The people from his program remain his best friends.


I am nearly two months into my gap year experience, possible through the support of Masa Israel Journey, a project of The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Government of Israel, and I have not found myself doubting this choice for one moment. I am occasionally homesick for a New York bagel, but there is no part of me that wishes I had gone directly to college with the rest of my peers.


I have adopted the reference to a gap year as a “year on,” rather than a “year off.” Though it sounds cliché, I’ve begun to see the value of living in such a complex country as Israel. Every time I buy fruits at Machane Yehudah, the “Shuk,” or ask how much a Shabbat challah is in Hebrew, I feel more independent and self-sufficient and gain a better understanding of Israeli cultural norms.


As a city kid, I thought I was prepared for the Israeli mentality, but I’m not – because I hadn’t been immersed in it. I still get befuddled using my Rav-Kav (Israeli transit card). Having holiday and Shabbat meals with Israelis can be intimidating. I find myself being questioned bluntly, with hints of Hebrew sarcasm I am still trying to pick up on – to the amusement of my new Israeli friends. It is an education every single day, every single moment. It’s teaching me to have even more chutzpah.


In any foreign country, one must adjust habits to properly function. I am living on my own in Jerusalem, 5,000 miles away from my parents, leaving the nest early from a life of what I now have the perspective to see is relative privilege. I am learning how to interact with, and become, my version of an ‘Israeli,’ which will help me with the variety of people I will meet at Binghamton University and later in my career and adult life.


As for the relative risks of living in Jerusalem, this is an extremely new reality I am dealing with. My program’s Zionist and Israeli society classes are helping me understand what it means for various ethnic and religious groups to live within the complicated system of a Jewish Zionist government. Living here, I can see the situation with my own eyes and expand my consciousness of complex social and political issues. It is making me a more empathetic person, especially when discussing such a personal topic as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


Living in Israel is reshaping and expanding my understanding of the conflict, the realities of an Israeli existence, and ultimately my own Jewish life – something that a year of lectures in an American classroom could never teach me.


Allison Abrams, 18, is a 2016 graduate of Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School for the Arts and grew up in Forest Hills, New York. She is currently spending a gap year in Israel and will attend SUNY Binghamton in fall 2017.


Originally publish in The Forward

Jewish Life: The Opportunity of a Lifetime

Jewish Life: The Opportunity of a Lifetime

Jewish Life: The Opportunity of a Lifetime

November 28, 2016

By Chandrea Serebro


Masa, the public-service organisation founded by the Prime Minister’s Office of the Government of Israel together with The Jewish Agency, has a myriad of projects offering South Africans the opportunity to spend some time in Israel. Gap year programmes, study abroad programmes, yeshiva programmes. But Masa also provides the opportunity for a stint at major high tech companies and exciting start-ups, doing real and amazing work. The Israel internship programme (which in SA falls under the Israel Centre’s JHB umbrella) gives budding professionals “hands-on opportunities” to work with some of the world’s most cutting-edge companies across Israel. It’s a chance “to spend a meaningful time in Israel”, not as a tourist or a kibbutznik, not as an out-of-pocket traveller trying to fund the next excursion, but rather to experience Israel like a real Israeli, as a professional, going to work each day, experiencing the after work leisure-time activities Israel has to offer, meeting friends, going out to eat, before doing it all again the next day – repeat. Might sound dreary, and like real-life has come knocking a little too soon, but when you think about the potential for that everyday grindstone to involve working as a newly qualified-but-green go-getter in the start-up nation of the world for an international high tech company or an on the pulse financial trading floor, I bet that endlessly repetitive groundhog day is looking up.


Ofer Gutman, Director of Marketing and Sales at Masa, calls it “The Journey”, an experience “beyond the bus”. You experience the business-side of living in Israel: the ups and the downs, the late for work, and even the kudos from the boss. But you experience all this in a position that you probably wouldn’t have gotten in the first five years of your career elsewhere, in the Jewish homeland, with the support and help that Masa offers you. And the progress they make gets attention both in Israel and back at home, wherever that may be, as the programme is being offered all over the Jewish world. “Living and working in a start-up nation, you are viewed as being one of the team – not someone just there to give the bad or menial tasks to,” explains participant Sam Kapp from New York, who wanted to explore Israeli society while gaining work experience. He’s getting an inside look at what it takes to build a successful start-up, working at a biotechnology software company in the heart of Tel Aviv. At present, he finds himself working on the technology to make a glowing plant (by combining the genome of a firefly with that of a plant) – “cool stuff”, he says, and while it might sound off-the-wall, only in Israel could one actually conceive of having this type of experience, in real life, fresh out-of-school. “They asked me what I want to get out of this (experience),” he explains, “and I told them I wanted to see how a start-up is run, and what you needed to do to build a successful company.” So, because he wanted an overview, he is interning at a company in marketing, getting a taste of just what goes on behind the scenes in every element of what makes a successful, exciting company tick, being “inspired every day by [his] colleagues’ passion for their work”. Who even knows, it might just be the next thing sold to some big international high-tech for billions.


Another participant, Jonathan Gerari from Denmark, with his Masters in Finance, chose to work at JP Commodities, a small commodities firm in Tel Aviv. There, he enjoys a lot of responsibility and can also get some insight into what actually goes on in every aspect of the business, which is why he has found the experience so enjoyable. He says, “It would take me five years to get this far in Denmark to achieve the same level of responsibility.” He was going to go home at the end of the internship, but he realised that in Israel, through this experience, he is learning more than he ever would elsewhere, which will enable him to hone his skills early in his career after which he hopes to become a specialist in his field. In addition to his internship, Jonathan has made close friends with other people who are abroad with Masa Israel Journey. This has made his experience “valuable and unforgettable” – an experience that “keeps surprising me”. Living in Israel and going to work every day with people who all have the “common goal of living and having a great time,” he says, “is living my life way above expectations.”


And it is slowly catching on with South Africans as a foot in the door to the international business world, which we might otherwise have been left out of. “It’s good for your CV, and you can work in a place you wouldn’t have been accepted to otherwise without having previous working experience,” says Tanya Izaki, Israel Programmes Coordinator at the Israel Centre JHB. Even though the internships are not paid, they are offered the opportunity to gain a lot of hands-on work experience, advance their career, and to live abroad. It is expensive, but once you’re over 21 you get an automatic $3000 scholarship from Masa, regardless of your financial situation, unique to this internship programme and which, depending on your financial situation, could be even higher. But still, the final cost could be about $2000-3000, plus your air ticket and spending money – which is no small sum, but the doors that it opens and the experience that it offers has blown the old work-and-travel London experience out of the water, and has given new graduates a reason to excel at what they do so they can find themselves miles ahead of the counterparts they leave behind. Tarryn Snoyman from Johannesburg wanted to do the Israel Teaching Fellows programme (the only programme that is almost fully-subsidised and even reimburses the air ticket) because she wanted to be exposed to a different teaching environment other than in South Africa. Sh describes it as both a stimulating and positively challenging experience for her. “I have enjoyed the personal and professional growth of the journey. Not only has this experience been focused on teaching English but I have been privileged enough to have been involved in many other initiatives that Masa offers, including a global leadership summit, a leadership shabbaton, and being part of the World Zionist Organisation fellowship track, all of which fostered personal and professional development though skills-based training.” Living in Israel, specifically Be’er Sheva which is one of Israel’s fastest growing cities with a large, vibrant student population, Tarryn has enjoyed the social and cultural scenes, which offer many opportunities for anyone to get involved in, from student events and initiatives to enjoying a buzzing, melting-pot of cultures, nightlife, and joining the Ben Gurion University’s international club.


The programmes run from five months up to a year, and many of the interns land their dream job and stay on to achieve greater things. And if you don’t find what you are looking for in the internships that they offer, there is always the opportunity to customise an internship in your field, helping you to find the perfect opportunity just for you. It’s a no-brainer, and just might be the key you were looking for to unlock the potential to be part of the next billion-dollar success story that Israel is so famous for producing. For more information contact Tanya Izaki at the Israel Centre JHB on 011 645 2560. For more on the Masa internship programme go to: and for more on the Israel teaching fellows programme go to:


Originally published in Jewish Life

8 Awesome Pics for 8 Awesome Gap Year Moments

<div class="masa-blog-title">8 Awesome Pics for 8 Awesome Gap Year Moments</div>

Aardvark Israel participant Mati Davis decided to think outside of the box when it came to college. A few months ago Mati, embarked on the journey of a lifetime when he decided to boost his future college career and take a gap year in Israel. 


Check out some of Mati and friends' gap year highlights below!



The Top 8 Beaches in Israel

<div class="masa-blog-title">The Top 8 Beaches in Israel</div>

Written by Andria Kaplan-Aylyarov


Yes, BRRR. The weather is cold outside and as you kindle the Hanukkah flames and spin that dreidel, warm yourself up and imagine you’re under the Tel Aviv sun, soaking up the rays on one of these beaches.

…Because seriously, where else would you rather be?


1. Banana Beach
Located on the southernmost edge near Jaffa this beach is home to Friday night drum circles, hula hooping-bikini wearing girls, endless games of Matkot and sunbather after sunbather. Think of it as a Bohemian paradise right next to Tel Aviv.


2. Gordon Beach, Frishman Beach, Bograshov Beach
Welcome to beach-mania. These three beaches offer endless white sand, beautiful people and the perfect dose of sunshine. Located right in the center of Tel Aviv these beaches offer a great getaway with tons of bars and restaurants. Each beach is the perfect place to catch the addicting Tel Aviv sunset plus, there’s a Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream stand at Gordon Beach. #YUM

3. Trumpeldor Beach
Walking down the beach in Tel Aviv you’ll spot an unusual statue and you know you’ve arrived at Trumpeldor Beach. This is a quieter beach amongst its neighbors since there are no facilities or lifeguards.

4. Jerusalem Beach
Formerly known as Geula Beach, Jerusalem Beach is located right off Allenby Street and near the very well-known Opera Tower building. You’ll find falafel shops and bodegas everywhere, so don’t worry about packing snacks for the day. It’s not touristy and is the perfect spot to meet all your friends for a relaxing beach day.

5. Tel Baruch Beach
Tel Baruch Beach may be one of Israel’s cleanest beaches. Fully equipped with green lawns, outdoor workout area, and seaside café it’s the perfect escape from a long week of classes or a big night out. 

6. Metzitzim Beach
If you wake up early enough on a Friday or Saturday morning,  take a stroll down Namal Tel Aviv, and  grab a coffee while you check out Metzitzim Beach. It’s more family oriented but offers three volleyball courts and an outdoor workout area. If that’s not your thing, however, keep walking north and you’ll catch twenty-something Israelis sipping Goldstar and hanging out.

7. The Surfer’s Beach at the Hilton Hof HaGolshim
Besides beautiful people watching all day long check out The Surfer’s Beach and prepare to be amazed at the skill, the surf, and the boys. It’s a hot spot to kayak or learn how to paddle board too!


8. Coral Reef Beach(Red Sea):
Okay, so this beach isn't in Tel Aviv but it's a sun worshipper's paradise. You can go from sand to snorkel to world-class resort within minutes. The best part? There's a good chance your Masa program already has a trip to Eilat planned. #GetReady

Andria Kaplan Aylyarov is a Masa Israel Alumna and content marketing specialist for Masa Israel Journey. She loves a good glass of white wine and wishes she was 85-years-old and living in Boca, but she currently resides in New York.


How To: Convince Your Family to Send You on a Gap Year

<div class="masa-blog-title">How To: Convince Your Family to Send You on a Gap Year</div>

Our families want what’s best for us, but sometimes they don’t know what’s best for us. At a certain point, we start deciding what’s best for us and it may take some convincing to get the fam on board. 

Show your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and the whole clan the benefits of taking a gap year with these four blog posts:



Happy Thanksgiving from Masa Israel Journey!

<div class="masa-blog-title">Happy Thanksgiving from Masa Israel Journey!</div>

Masa Israel participants from the Masa-GLI Global Leadership Summit celebrate Thanksgiving from Israel thanking those who inspired them to take their journey and become today's leaders:



Masa Israel Thanksgiving Video

Masa Israel participants from the Masa GLI Global Leadership Summit celebrate Thanksgiving from Israel thanking those who inspired them to take their journey and become today's leaders! Watch and share! #Thanksgiving #MyMasa #Leadership #Thanksgiving2016 Masa Tlalim Career Israel BINA Center for Jewish Identity and Hebrew Culture Destination Israel The Jewish Agency for Israel

Posted by Masa Israel Journey on Wednesday, November 23, 2016