Tamar Brendzel-MITF

Tamar Brendzel-MITF

Masa Israel Teaching Fellows

Growing up in Saint Paul, Minnesota, it is understandable how Tamar Brendzel, 24, can have a hard time with the “sabra” nature of Israelis. It’s a far cry from the “Minnesota nice” nature of the community she grew up in. However, the ups and downs she faces during her year in Israel are all part of the experience that has had a huge impact on her life.

Tamar grew up attending synagogue and Hebrew school, but it was her Taglit-Birthright trip, during her freshman year of college, that exposed her to Masa and the idea of spending an extended period of time in Israel. This Indiana University Bloomington biology major was inspired. Her parents both lived in Israel for a year after college and their connection to Israel motivated her to find her own connection, leading her to choose the Masa Israel Teaching Fellows program. Her interest in serving neglected communities in Israel by encouraging education made the MITF Rechovot program a perfect fit for her.

Tamar works at Sinai Elementary School, a religious school with a primarily Ethiopian and Yemenite student population, teaching English to grades fourth through sixth. Many of her students come from low socio-economic status. Along with her teaching and biweekly Ulpan classes, she volunteers once a week at a Matnas (community center) in Rehovot.

            Tamar feels that one of my most important jobs as an English teacher is to show the students that she values them and is rooting for their success. Many of her students do not get this level of love and support at home. Her biggest successes have been getting disengaged students to reengage by showing them how fun and important English can be through songs, plays, and games. Something that gives Tamar hope is that even with all the problems her students face, both in school and in Israeli society, they are smart, fun, resilient, and loving and she believes they can be successful in the future.

            Currently, Tamar is searching for a job in the science and education fields. Even though the year is coming to an end, Tamar is thankful for everything she has learned, the amazing friends she has made, and the unique and meaningful experience that will last her a lifetime.

Blake Yospa-ITF

Blake Yospa-ITF

Israel Teaching Fellows

Growing up in Baltimore, Blake Yospa, 26, felt connected to Judaism through the Reform synagogue where his mother worked and he attended Hebrew school. However, after his bar mitzvah, Blake grew less affiliated.

“Being part of a religious minority, I considered myself an outcast,” Blake explains.

However, that all changed in the winter of 2014, when Blake travelled to Israel for the first time with Birthright-Taglit Israel. “I honestly did not feel a connection to Israel or any Jewish community until I went on Birthright,” the Towson University alum remembers.

Blake extended his trip to stay with a friend from home who was living in Netanya as a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow. During his stay in Netanya, Blake spent a day in school with his friend, and decided that he too wanted to come back to Israel and teach for a year. Dissatisfied with his career path and looking to make a difference, Blake had nothing holding him back; Masa Israel Teaching Fellows made sense at that point in his life. “This teaching program offered me a chance to live abroad for an extended period of time, while giving back to those in need,” Blake explains.

Now, a little over a year later, Blake lives in Rishon LeZion as a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow. He teaches at a primary school in a mid-to-low socioeconomic neighborhood right outside of Rishon LeZion, where his students make him laugh and the faculty members are warm and welcoming. ”I come to school with a smile on my face every day,” Blake says.

Outside of the classroom, Blake tutors some of his students, which allows for him to grow extremely close with both the children and their families. “I have developed such a close relationship with them that I’ve been invited over for the Pesach seder.”  On top of the tutoring, Black volunteers at a school running sports programs for the students. In his spare time, he explores Israel on organized tours with Masa Israel Teaching Fellows, and on spontaneous adventures with his friends.

Today, after several months as a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow, Blake feels that his experience on the Masa program has changed him in many ways. “After living here for almost seven months, I’m happy to associate myself with Israel and being Jewish,” Blake says. He also feels that this experience has been self-enriching and has helped him grow spiritually and mature as a person.

When Masa Israel Teaching Fellows ends in June, Blake plans to return to the States to pursue a career in the field in which he earned his degree, sports management. “I would love to get a job with my local JCC in the recreational sports department and then perhaps move to minor or professional sports,” Blake says. Still, Blake remains open to any interesting opportunity that comes his way and he would have never said that two years ago. 

Daniel Spector-IGF

Daniel Spector-IGF

Israel Government Fellows
Weight: 
-80

Born in Massachusetts, Daniel Spector, 22, grew up in a non-traditional home. His family belonged to a reform synagogue but was not very connected to Judaism. That all changed when Daniel first traveled to Israel on Birthright. Daniel found that he identified with Israelis not only on the basis of religion and culture but also in their readiness to discuss issues with a sincerity and genuine passion that he had never experienced before. It inspired him to engage with the issues confronting Israeli society and he knew that he wanted to go back to Israel at some point.

               

In the year before coming on the Israel Government Fellows program (IGF), Daniel directed his efforts as an advocate for the David Project, tasked with making his experience with Israel part of the conversation at the University of Massachusetts Amherst where he was studying for a Bachelor of Business Administration in Operations and Information Management. He also attended the AIPAC policy conference in Washington DC out of a desire to get directly involved with the political issues surrounding Israel and started teaching himself Hebrew.

 

Daniel knew that he wanted to gain professional experience by working in Israel. The Masa Israel Government Fellow program caught his eye because it would give him the work experience he wanted, boost his resume, and give him the financial assistance that he needed.

 

Now, as an Israel Government Fellow, Daniel is interning at the Office of the Chief Scientist in the Ministry of Economy, where he works alongside the Director of the Strategy & Economic Research Unit.

 

 

 

Nativ - Hebrew University Track

http://www.masaisrael.org/sites/default/files/nativ%20HU.jpg

Program Description

Nativ is a challenging academic year program dedicated to creating and inspiring the Conservative Jewish leaders of tomorrow. Nativ, which means “path” in Hebrew, provides its participants with a unique opportunity to explore new directions on the journey to becoming a Jewish adult. From September to May, Nativ participants are immersed in the rich and diverse society of Israel, exploring the land and enjoying a fulfilling Conservative Jewish lifestyle. The program includes academic university classes, intensive Hebrew classes and innovative leadership training. Nativ enables recent high school graduates to earn college credits for their studies while living in a classroom without walls.

A year of true exploration, Nativ provides the freedom for personal discovery as well as the security of a carefully structured program. This unforgettable experience is created through an intricate balance between academics and volunteer work, learning and teaching, personal challenge and community living. Participants on Nativ return from the year with a stronger attachment to the land of Israel as well as a deeper passion for Judaism, enthusiastic to share with their North American communities what they have learned.

Meital Goldberg

Meital Goldberg

English Speaking Desk Representative

The 2015 Masa Israel Yom HaZikaron Ceremony

The 2015 Masa Israel Yom HaZikaron Ceremony

The 2015 Masa Israel Yom HaZikaron Ceremony

April 22, 2015

On Tuesday April 21, over 5,000 Masa Israel Journey participants gathered at the Armored Corps Memorial Site and Museum at Latrun for the annual Masa Israel Yom HaZikaron Ceremony. Several delegations from Jewish communities around the world joined the Masa Israel community in mourning Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terror. 

alt="masa israel yom hazikaron"

Opening of the Masa Israel Yom HaZikaron Ceremony

 

The annual Masa Israel ceremony is the third largest official Yom HaZikaron service in the State of Israel and serves as the only official ceremony for non-Hebrew speakers. Many of the individual IDF soldiers and victims of terror honored in the touching memorial service, like Masa Israel participants, did not grow up in Israel.


This year’s ceremony commemorated the lives of Max Steinberg, Jordan Bensemhoun, Dana Galkowitz, Philip Musko, Nir Cohen, and Masa Israel alum Michael Levin. Their loved ones and the families of other fallen soldiers and victims of terror attended the ceremony as well.

 

alt="max steinberg"

The Masa Israel Community remembers Sergeant Max Steinberg

 

After the lighting of the memorial flame and ceremonial wreath-laying, Natan Sharansky, Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel addressed the audience, sharing his memories of observing Yom HaZikaron during his time in prison in Russia. Avichai Mandelblit, Israel’s Cabinet Secretary, spoke on behalf of the Prime Minister’s office.  The father of Dana Galkowitz, a young woman from a southern kibbutz who was killed in a mortar attack, spoke about his daughter and on behalf of the bereaved families in the audience and across the State of Israel.

 

alt="avichai mendelblit"

Israeli Cabinet Secretary, Avichai Mendelblit

 

The emotional ceremony also included moving biographical videos about the six above-mentioned young men and women, musical interludes, and prayers. 

 

Click here to watch the ceremony. 

Masa Israel Teaching Fellows Raise Money for their Schools

Masa Israel Teaching Fellows Raise Money for their Schools

March 27, 2015

Masa Israel Teaching Fellows work in some of the most underfunded schools in Israel. They teach students who lack access to the books and supplies necessary for their education. However, at the December Masa Israel Leadership Summit, seven entrepreneurial Fellows took it upon themselves to bring attention to these issues and fundraise for the schools in which they work.

The December Leadership Summit featured the first ever NU Campaign AcTEEvism Workshop ever. For the first time, NU Campaign’s clients created their own campaign: from choosing a cause, to creating a message, and designing a shirt.

 

Masa Israel Teaching Fellows' "Education Matters" shirt via NU Campaign


“It’s a totally new idea for NU, where we empower students to be active for things they are passionate about,” explained David Kramer, Founder and CEO of the Israeli crowd-funding platform that creates customized apparel to raise awareness and funds for a cause, charity, event, project, or business.


“David told us about the company and was like ‘I’ve talked enough. Now you guys have to come up with your own design and campaign,’” Marni Balint, a Fellow in Netanya, remembered. “’If I like it, we’ll put it up on the website.’”


Whereas everyone participating in the workshop was a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow, Arielle Goldfarb, Lauren Kivowitz, Marni Balint, Rachel Beckman, Rachel Leeds, Samantha Bear, and Talya Sterling created a campaign for the cause that brought them to Israel – the cause that they are already dedicating a year of their lives to – improving Israel’s education system.


It was also apparent to David that, as Masa Israel Teaching Fellows who work in Israel’s socioeconomic periphery, each member of the group had personally experienced the desperate need for the equal distribution of supplies and resources to Israel’s schools.


Rachel Beckman, a Bostonian who teaches in Petach Tikvah, works with students who do not have the right books or materials for their classes because neither their parents nor their schools can afford them. “As an educator, I am saddened to see that students are left behind or bored in class because they do not have access to the tools they need.”


David also saw a group of passionate young professionals who had a clear mission.  “I just grabbed a marker and started drawing,” Marni explained. “We wanted an open book and then everyone just added to the design.” At the end of the workshop, the NU Campaign founder and CEO took a picture and sent it to his design team. The Education Matters campaign launched one month later, on the NU Campaign website.


For many of the involved Fellows, the campaign only strengthened their resolve to change the lives of Israeli students. “It’s all about making a difference, one student at a time,” said Talya Sterling, a Cleveland native teaching in Petach Tikvah.

 

For more information and to support the campaign, visit Education Matters.

 

Yeshivat Migdal Hatorah

Program Description

Masa Israel's Favorite Purim Costumes

<div class="masa-blog-title">Masa Israel's Favorite Purim Costumes</div>

Purim is only days away, and Masa Israel Journey wants to help you get into the holiday spirit. You've heard plenty from our participants and alumni about their holiday celebrations and Israel experiences. Now, it's time to hear from our North American staff and get to know some of the people who help thousands of Jewish young adults live Israel like a local!

 

 

House of Cards: Israel Edition

House of Cards: Israel Edition

February 27, 2015

With the Israeli elections just weeks away, Masa Israel Journey organized events to help participants understand the ins and outs of the 2015 Israeli elections. 

 

alt="israel elections 2015 masa israel"
Masa Israel Elections Workship in Jerusalem

Over 200 Masa Israel participants attended workshops, in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, that were a crash course in Israeli elections and the current political landscape. Attendees gained a basic understanding of the key issues concerning Israeli voters, as they prepare to head to the polls on March 17,2015.  The workshops also provided them with information about Israel's numerous political parties, their platforms and the candidates vying to become the next prime minister of the State of Israel.

 

The highlight of the evening, for both Masa Israel participants and staff members alike, were the panel sessions featuring influential leaders, thinkers and activists who discussed national security, the Israeli economy, the Israeli elections process, and why the 2015 Israeli elections are different than past elections.

 

In Jerusalem, Haviv Retig Gur, political correspondent for The Times of Israel moderated the panel, which included numerous politicians: Yochai Zeid from Yesh Atid, Ashley Perry from Yisrael Beiteinu, Uri Bank from Bayet HaYehudi, Yehuda Glick from Likud and Gabe Sasson from Avoda.

 

The Tel Aviv panel, also moderated by Haviv Retig Gur, featured journalists: managing editor of Israel Hayom, Barney Breen-Portney; Israel Correspondent for JTA, Ben Sales; Knesset reporter for The Jerusalem Post, Lahav Harkov; correspondent for i24 News, Yael Wissner-Level; and editor of Mishpacha Magazine, Binyamin Rose.

See what programs & funding we have for you: