Eco-Israel

http://www.masaisrael.org/sites/default/files/eco-israel_1.jpg

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
 

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eJewish Philanthropy: Emerging Adults Choosing Long-term Programs in Israel – Questions Inspired by the Evaluation of Masa Israel Journey

eJewish Philanthropy: Emerging Adults Choosing Long-term Programs in Israel – Questions Inspired by the Evaluation of Masa Israel Journey

eJewish Philanthropy: Emerging Adults Choosing Long-term Programs in Israel – Questions Inspired by the Evaluation of Masa Israel Journey

January 2, 2017

By Alex Pomson and Yehudit Werchow

 

When Masa Israel Journey was launched in 2004, almost all of the five-and-a-half-thousand young people who participated in the program’s long-term Israel-based experiences were under the age of twenty-four. They were taking a gap year or experiencing a semester abroad. Just a few hundred were college graduates.

When Masa Israel Journey was launched in 2004, almost all of the five-and-a-half-thousand young people who participated in the program’s long-term Israel-based experiences were under the age of twenty-four. They were taking a gap year or experiencing a semester abroad. Just a few hundred were college graduates.

 

In recent years, the demographics of those coming on programs has changed. Today, about a third of Masa’s twelve thousand participants are older than 21. Most of this population are post-college and pre-family; in today’s world, what has been coined “emerging adults.” While this change alone is interesting, the implications of this change are especially intriguing and provocative for Masa and for community partners interested in effectively engaging this demographic group.

 

A team from Rosov Consulting is working together with Masa Israel Journey to study the outcomes produced by the different programs for which Masa provides a platform. Having completed a retrospective study of Masa alumni who participated in programs between 2005 and 2014, we have also been studying, in real time, a cohort who participated in Masa programs between July 2014 and June 2015, and who are now between six and twelve months out of the program.

 

Within this cohort there are more than 1,500 participants who were post-college and under the age of thirty at the time they came to Israel for between four months and 12 months. Based on an analysis of their self-reported participation in Jewish programing and educational experiences before they enrolled in Masa, 65 percent of this population was previously engaged in a relatively limited way in communal Jewish activities or in Jewish educational offerings such as camps, supplementary schools, day schools and youth groups. The one (almost) common denominator among the group is that 85 percent of them had visited Israel at least once before.

 

What makes this cohort so unique is that their choice of a Masa program does not fit with popular perceptions of post-college millennials and of the programs in which they participate. Jewish programs in North America that attract Jewish millennial participants tend to be self-curated, short-in-duration, easily accessible, and ask for a low threshold of commitment. Often, these programs don’t trumpet their Jewishness.

 

Post-college Masa programs call participants to put a great deal more skin in the game. The programs are at least four-months long. Whatever their programmatic content, they require investing time in different mandatory curriculum components such as learning Hebrew as a second language, participating in a diverse range of Jewish experiences, engaging in social action work, traveling the land, and learning about Israeli society, culture and history. By definition, there is no disguising that these are Jewish programs. Although subsidies are available, sometimes covering full cost, these post-college offerings range in price between $5,000 and $15,000. The access bar is quite high.

 

When surveyed about their reasons for coming on one of these programs, the participants’ interest in personal and/or professional growth loomed large. Gaining work experience and getting to know oneself were strong motivations, as was the desire to have fun and experience adventure. Participants were not primarily drawn to Israel by a search for Jewish experiences. What pulled them to Israel was a curiosity about the country and the opportunity to experience living there; what Masa’s messaging calls ”living like a local.” They saw Israel as a site for their own personal and professional development.

 

Evidently, most participants found what they’re looking for. Six months after they returned home, their knowledge of day-to-day life in Israel and Israeli culture had increased three-fold, they were twice as knowledgeable about ways to be involved with Israel, and their sense of connection to Israel and Israelis had increased significantly.

 

Given their relatively unengaged backgrounds and the relatively high bar for entering the program, it is worth learning more about what attracts these people to Israel and what exactly accounts for the ways in which they change and grow during their time in the country; especially as regards their connection to Israel and its relationships to their personal and professional growth. What we learn might have profound implications for Masa and for others seeking to deeply engage this population. If the access bar was lower, might that make programs more appealing? Or is the high bar of entry part of the appeal? Is the special attraction to live like a local in Israel, or is it to live abroad somewhere familiar enough from a previous experience that just happens to be the one Jewish state in the world?

 

For the moment, speculatively, we point to a paradox: the participants’ previous experience in Israel has set in motion a desire to come back and gain a deeper appreciation of what living in the country involves. At the same time, a perceived deficiency in that previous experience – being too tightly controlled and too heavily mediated – nourishes, they have told us, a desire to discover Israel for themselves. They have been both inspired enough and frustrated enough to want to return.

 

Millennials may be the most studied population cohort in human history but there is still much more to learn about their drives and desires, particularly when it comes to their relationship with Israel and their engagement with the country and the Jewish people.

 

Alex Pomson is Managing Director at Rosov Consulting

Rabbi Yehudit Werchow is Director of Education, Masa.

 

 

Originally published in eJewish Philanthropy

Top 16 Masa Israel Moments of 2016

<div class="masa-blog-title">Top 16 Masa Israel Moments of 2016</div>

 

Each year we find ourselves turning the pages of the calendar more quickly, and what packed pages they are. Here at Masa Israel we have had yet another amazing year of programming and events, both in Israel and across the globe. Now in our 13th year, we’ve surpassed 120,000 alumni, and have begun a number of great new initiatives.

 

Take a brief look at the Top 16 Masa Moments of 2016:

 

1. Make Your Journey Matter Gap Fair


On February 21st we hosted a back-to-campus fair for our Gap Year participants bringing representatives from Israel Advocacy and Jewish campus organizations to show participants the many opportunities available to them when they return from their year in Israel.

 

2. Samsung Tel Aviv Marathon with #TeamMasa


On 26 February over 100 Masa participants, alumni, organizers, and staff participated in the annual Samsung Tel Aviv Marathon as part of the first ever #Team Masa. 
 

3. Masa L’Maaseh  


In March, 40 of our Yeshiva students went on the first Masa L’Maaseh, a four day journey , cosponsored by Yeshiva University and WZO, to explore Israel's ever-changing landscape as they visited places and met people that are driving a positive change in Israeli society, while enjoying an exciting group experience with participants from many different Jewish Studies programs. 
 

4. Yom Hazikaron Ceremony at Latrun


This May 5,000 participants and Masa partners mourned Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terror together at our impactful Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day) Ceremony at Latrun, the largest English language ceremony in Israel.
 

5. Ventures in the Capitol: JLM Young Professional Night


May 30th over 200 post-college & academic participants gathered at JVP Media Quarter in Jerusalem for a night of professional development sessions with top Israeli professionals, followed by a networking cocktail hour with top Israeli companies.
 

6. Culture Shuk


With a dozen performers, authors and artists, from legendary author Amos Oz, to Ethiopian hip hop sensation Café Shahor Hazak, 1,000 participants took an inside look at Israeli Culture. 
 

7. Global Program Fairs


From Brazil to Berlin, the UK to Ukraine, our global team of Regional Masa Representatives have spoken to tens of thousands of potential participants at their events and fairs throughout the world.
 

8. MasaID


In partnership with the Genesis Philanthropy Group, Masa takes thousands of Russian-speaking participants on 5 day journeys to explore Israel and Jewish peoplehood and identity through experiencing land, history, and people.
 

9. Masa Desert Project


This summer part of our Masa Ambassador’s team set up shop in popular Taglit spots Kfar Hanokdim and Han Hashayarot to share with over 750 Taglit-Birthright groups how they can get back to Israel.
 

10. The Matzpen Program


Focusing on building capacity in the field, our educational department implemented a series of day-long seminars for our program organizers. The curriculum focuses on pedagogical principles, skill building, current trends and issues in the field of education, and best practices for identity building in emerging adults.
 

11. My Masa Mega Event


Over 3,000 Masa participants gathered in Jerusalem for our annual My Masa event to kick-off our 2016-2017 year of programs. Word on the street is that this was one of the best events yet!
 

12. MITF Levinsky Teaching Certificate Program


With a class of 18, this October marked the beginning of our new English Teaching Certificate Program for MITF participants in partnership with Israel’s Ministry of Education and Levinsky College.
 

13. Partnership with The Forward


People are talking about Masa and The Forward decided they want to as well. This year we officially began a partnership with their new lifestyle section, Scribe. Check out 2 articles by Masa participants here and here.
 

14. JFNA General Assembly


Our alumni delegation networked with GA goers, and helped spread the word about Masa at our awesome expo booth. We also held an inspiring meeting with Natan Sharansky and a very well-attended (and fun!) joint VIP reception with Onward Israel. 
 

15. Masa-GLI Global Leadership Summit & Tracks


This November our Masa-GLI Leadership Accelerator put on another successful Masa-GLI Global Leadership Summit, in Jerusalem, with generous support from the Wilf Family Foundation. We are particularly proud of the growth of the exposure tracks which allow participants to take their training into the field. Here are this year's tracks: 

  • FSU Participants Masa-GLI Leadership Fellowship, with support by the Genesis Philanthropy Group
  • Hillel Masa-GLI Leadership Fellowship 
  • JFNA Masa-GLI Leadership Fellowship
  • WUPJ / HUC-JIR Masa-GLI Leadership Fellowship
  • Israel Dialog Masa-GLI Leadership Fellowship
  • WeWork Masa-GLI Business & Innovation Leadership Fellowship
  • Masa Influencers

 

16. North America Career Development Delegation


This November our Director of Business Development International, Adi Barel, and Director iof business Development North America, Adi Hila, hosted career development professionals from North American Universities for a week in Israel, taking them to visit various professional development programs, and immerse themselves in the Israeli start-up ecosystem.

 

Written by Amy Albertson, Creative Content Manager, Masa Israel Journey
 

 

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

 

Bunelos

 

bunelos

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

 

Sfenj

 

sfenj

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

 

Cassola

 

Cassola

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

 

Pixabay

 

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

Flickr

 

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

Pixabay

 

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

 

To learn more about the Masa Israel Journey, click here. 

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 mbalkan@jcfcleve.org 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

8 Need-To-Know Hebrew Phrases To Learn Before Going to Israel

<div class="masa-blog-title">8 Need-To-Know Hebrew Phrases To Learn Before Going to Israel</div>

 

Living abroad for any period of time can be intimidating, especially if you don’t know the local language fluently.


Here at Masa Israel we understand the struggle and therefore we came up with 8 words/phrases that will make your Masa Israel journey a smooth ride. Oh and not only will you know the local slang, but Israelis will think you are literally a local.

 

Let’s get started with our first local Hebrew lesson:

 

1. Achi/ Achoti = Brother/Sister

A.k.a. Bro, Dawg, Homie, Girl, Gurrrrl, etc…

 


2. B’emet = Really?


A.ka. For real tho?

 


3. Mesiba = Party

 


4. Motzash = After Shabbat

 


5. Mehamem = Gorgeous

 


6. Metzuyan = Excellent

 


7. Sababa = Cool

 


8. Yalla = Let’s go!


A.ka. Hurry, Get Moving

 

 

To learn more about Masa Israel and the programs we offer, click here.

 

The 8 Must Follow Instagram Profiles from Israel

<div class="masa-blog-title">The 8 Must Follow Instagram Profiles from Israel</div>

 

Doing a Masa Israel program is more than just going back after birthright, it’s actually experiencing the REAL Israel. It’s an actual journey! You will make friends from literally all over the world, see and feel things that are not found anywhere else, and you will want to keep coming back for more. 

 

So enough of us trying to convince you to live your life or even get experience for your career, this time we will let our participants show you what this “journey” is all about. Follow these Instagram accounts to get the real deal from food to places you never even knew existed! 

 

1. @whatwouldjulieorder

 

Participant: Julie Deutsch
Program: Career Israel

 

2. @kirilltrukhin

 


Participant: Kirill Trukhin
Program: Masa Tlalim

 

3. @tatianaitskova

 


Participant: Tatiana Itskova
Program: Betar Mabat

 

4. @davidjozef

 


Participant: David Jozef
Program: Top Israel Interns


5. @roo222

 


Participant: Rachel Schwartz
Program: Career Israel


6. @syrbrs

 


Participant: Ben Slutzky
Program: Israel By Design


7. @stasykh

 


Participant: Anastasiia Khodyrieva
Program: PMP Nativ Technion


8. @vainer91

 


Participant: Ariel Vainer
Program: Lej Leja
 

 

To learn more about Masa Israel and the programs we offer, click here.

 

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: postcollege.masaisrael.org and for more on the Israel teaching fellows programme go to: Israelteachingfellows.org

 

Originally published in Jewish Life