Jewish Federation of Greater Washington Reaffirms Its Commitment to Connecting Young Adults To Israel

Jewish Federation of Greater Washington Reaffirms Its Commitment to Connecting Young Adults To Israel

June 26, 2012

Generous donation will fund recruiting position dedicated to increasing participation in the Masa Israel Journey program.
WASHINGTON – The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, long-time supporters and creators of young adult engagement and programming, is proud to announce the addition of a full time professional to serve as an ambassador for The Jewish Agency for Israel's Masa Israel program. This program connects Jewish young adults to gap year, study abroad, post-college, and volunteer programs in Israel. 
 
Matching funds from the government of Israel will be paired with a generous contribution from a local donor to support the program for two years. The new professional will have two primary focus areas including 1) double the local participation of young adults in the Masa Israel program from 130 to 270 participants by implementing a wide range of recruitment activities and 2) connect with Masa Israel participants upon their return to Greater Washington to help successfully integrate them into Jewish life. The creation of the new position will be crucial in reaching important goals that will more meaningfully connect young adults to Israel and Jewish life.
 
Federation President Stuart S. Kurlander stated “Greater Washington continues to lead the way in its unwavering commitment to young adults. We recognize that exposing this constituency to Israel in meaningful ways will create a solid foundation for a next generation of Jews who will exhibit strong support and commitment to our homeland.”
 
Since its inception in 2004, Masa Israel has brought more than 65,000 young adults to Israel. The program has grown by 1,000 or more new participants each year. One of Masa Israel’s major growth areas is the post-college age cohort (21–30) with more than 50% being alumni of Taglit-Birthright Israel. Masa Israel participants have many opportunities to engage with one another through special seminars, holidays and Shabbat observances. These activities build connections with Israeli peers and other Jewish young adults.
 
"Masa Israel is thrilled to enter into a new partnership with The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington to achieve our mutual goal of increasing the number of Taglit: Birthright Israel returnees and other young adults who participate in immersive Israel programs.  Our new staff person will also play a vital role in ensuring that alumni of Masa Israel programs in Greater Washington become activated and engaged as emerging Jewish communal leaders" shared Avi Rubel, Masa Israel North American Director.
 
Steven A. Rakitt, CEO of The Federation shared, “We are grateful to the generous donor whose commitment will make it possible for more Washingtonian young adults to take part in this important immersive Jewish experience." This gift exemplifies Federation’s interest and willingness to approach philanthropy from a new perspective. We believe that more and more donors will see us as their partners prepared to respond to their interests and turn their philanthropic dreams into reality." 

Washington Jewish Week: Bringing young Jews to Israel

Washington Jewish Week: Bringing young Jews to Israel

June 13, 2012

There's an incredible program that has brought more than 65,000 Jewish young adults to Israel since it started in 2004.
It is called Masa Israel, and its focus is on post-college age Jews. Well over 50 percent are alumni of Taglit-Birthright Israel.
 
Masa Israel Journey is a partnership of the Jewish Agency for Israel and the government of Israel and a partner of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. Masa brings more than 10,000 young Jews per year to Israel on a range of gap-year, study-abroad, and post-college internship and volunteering programs. There are more than 140 Washington, D.C.-area participants this year on Masa Israel programs.
 
One of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington efforts to bring as many Jews as possible "under the tent" involves young adult engagement and programming. To that end, a local donor is matching funds from the government of Israel to support Masa Israel by hiring a new professional for two years. That person will have two primary focus areas - doubling the local participation of young adults in Masa Israel from 130 to 270 participants and connecting with Masa Israel participants upon their return to the Greater Washington Jewish community to help them successfully integrate into Jewish life.
 
Integration into Washington-area Jewish life should be underlined here. I know that a nephew of mine went to Israel via Birthright. He came back and announced it was the best 10 days of his life. That was three years ago. Since then, nothing. Not a word about Israel, not an expression of desire to return to the Holy Land.
 
When I asked him if he had been contacted or if there was any follow-up, he admitted that there had been contact, but that he didn't return the call or the email.
 
Federation President Stuart Kurlander has said from day one of his presidency that opening up Federation opportunities to young adults was a huge priority.
 
"We recognize that exposing this constituency to Israel in meaningful ways will create a solid foundation for a next generation of Jews who will exhibit strong support and commitment to our homeland," said Kurlander.
 

Welcome Back from Israel with "Bezalel on Tour" at Sotheby's in Chicago

Welcome Back from Israel with "Bezalel on Tour" at Sotheby's in Chicago

July 19, 2012 - 18:00  -  July 19, 2012 - 20:00

Sotheby’s 188 E. Walton PlaceChicago, IL  - 

Welcome back from Israel! Join other young adults recently returned from Birthright, Masa or the YLD Summer Trip to Israel as we take in the artwork of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design Jerusalem, right here in Chicago. 
Enjoy wine and cheese and share your Israel experiences with others. This event is free of charge.
 

Ten Thousand Masa Alumni Preparing for Their Next Steps in Israel, Abroad

Ten Thousand Masa Alumni Preparing for Their Next Steps in Israel, Abroad

June 15, 2012

By Sarah Bronson, Jewish Agency staff
 
Adrian Rubenstein, 23, of Leuven, Belgium and Brooklyn, New York, was having trouble finding a job in International Politics in the New York area. 
At his father's advice, he came to Israel and performed a Masa-sponsored internship through Career Israel, at the French Chamber of Commerce. "If you don't know what you are doing after college," he advised, "come to Israel on Career Israel. You aren't photocopying papers for bubkas. You're doing meaningful work, really learning about your career."
 
When Adrian Rubenstein, 23, graduated from college last year and couldn't find a job in his field in either of his two hometowns of New York City or Leuven, Belgium, his father suggested he go to Israel. A year later, Rubenstein is finishing what he called "a dynamic, very interesting" internship with the French Chamber of Commerce in Israel, a resume-builder he found through Career Israel and Masa Israel Journey. Reflecting on his experience, he said he gained not only a line on his CV, but a new way of seeing Israel and Judaism.
 
"Living here has shown me the diversity of Israel," he said. "I've met people with lots of interesting ideas about religion, from different religions and different types of Judaism. Belgium is very secular; living in Israel has shown me that religion is very personal and can be what you want it to be. I plan to be more involved in the Jewish communities in Brooklyn and Belgium when I get home."
 
Rubenstein was one of thousands of young adults ages 18-30 who streamed into Jerusalem's Binyanei Ha-umah International Convention Center tonight to commemorate the end of their long-term trips to Israel with Masa Israel Journey.
 
Masa, which is funded jointly by The Jewish Agency for Israel and by the Israeli government, provides grants and scholarships for Jews from around the world to participate in any of over 200 programs through which they can intern, study, or volunteer for a period of 5 to 12 months. The program aims to strengthen the relationship between Israel and young people who grew up abroad. In the past year, over 10,000 young people came to Israel through Masa.
 
Highlights of the end-of-year program, called "My Masa, My Journey," included an address by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu; a discussion with Natan Sharansky, Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency; a performance by the internationally-acclaimed Israeli dance troupe Mayumana; and a panel talk by some of Israel's most prominent athletes.
 
After viewing a short film clip about Sharansky's life, the audience sat in rapt attention as he related details about his years in a Siberian prison, including the method by which he and other prisoners turned their toilets into makeshift telephones, and communicated via Morse code through the walls.
 
"What is happening with young Jews coming to Israel," he said of Masa, "is that they discover here they have roots, they have a state. They have a family. They may be critical of Israel, but they say 'I'm speaking up, because Israel is me.'"
 
Prime Minister Netanyahu emphasized the importance of becoming a spokesperson for Israel once the Masa participants return to their countries of origin. "You're taking back with you something very, very precious," he said. "The truth. You can speak the truth about Israel, and that's what I want you to do. Defend Israel by saying the truth and by being proud. Proud of being Jewish, proud of your heritage, proud of your homeland."
 
Speaking up and speaking the truth is just what Nellie Alimi, 23, of Paris, plans to do when her Masa program is over. Through the organization Gvahim, Alimi has been performing a Masa-sponsored internship at a high-tech company. "I want to stay in Israel, but I got a job offer in England I plan to take," she said. "But I know that even outside the country, I can represent and defend Israel."
 
Nellie Alimi, 23, of Paris, performed an internship at the high-tech company Nice Systems, through the Gvahim program, sponsored by Masa. "I want to stay in Israel, but I got a job offer in England I plan to take," she said. "But I know that even outside the country, I can represent and defend Israel."
 
Alimi said that she had formerly spent a year in Israel as a university student, but that her experience as an intern gave her an opportunity to experience Israel surrounded by adults. "Students are full of hopes," she observed, "but grownups deal with reality. Many of my coworkers are more pessimistic than I am, and said that I'm naïve about peace and about the future of the country. I was forced to define and defend my ideas, and to show them that I may not know what it means to lose someone in the army, but I do know what anti-Semitism is, and we can bring peace – you don't have to be pessimistic."
 
Hadassah Mendoza, 25, of Miami, was inspired by her Taglit-Birthright trip to return with Masa, with the stipulation that "I couldn't justify staying in Israel for so long unless it was contributing in some way to my resume." Through Masa and Israel Government Fellows, the Political Science graduate has been performing an internship at Israel's Ministry of Trade and Labor.
 
Haddassah Mendoza, 25, of Miami was in Israel on the Israel Government Fellows program, sponsored by Masa. She was inspired by Birthright to return for a longer period, and performed an internship at the Ministry of Trade and Labor. "Instead of just planting a seed, now I have roots here and a relationship with Israel," she said.
 
The value of staying in Israel for several months or a year, she said, is "instead of just planting a seed [such as on a short trip], now I have roots here, and a relationship with Israel. Going to Masada and the Dead Sea one time is not the same as shopping at the shuk for your food and running after buses. And my Hebrew is better now; it's a good sign when you can negotiate with a taxi driver in Hebrew and feel good about it."
 
One of Masa's younger participants was Max Rudolph, 19, of Portland, Oregon; he spent nine months on the Young Judaea Year Course, which combines volunteer services with Hebrew-language studies.  "I was a High Holiday Jew, and that probably hasn't changed," he said of what he has learned. "But I understand more, and yes, now I want to marry Jewish. And I'll defend Israel on campus if there is slander against it. I definitely plan to come back to Israel to visit."
 
Max Rudolph, 19 of Portland, Oregon, was in Israel on the Young Judaea Year Course. "I was a High Holiday Jew, and that probably hasn't changed," he said of what he learned. "But I understand more, and yes, now I want to marry Jewish. And I'll defend Israel on campus if there is slander against it. I definitely plan to come back to Israel to visit."
 
Originally published by the Jewish Agency for Israel | Photo credit: Perry Bindelglass

Jewish Daily Forward: Hookah And Shakshuka

Jewish Daily Forward: Hookah And Shakshuka

June 13, 2012

By Laura Rumpf
 
If you closed your eyes, you could easily imagine the scent of rich tomato and onion wafting from Jennah Craig’s East Bay apartment...
...and the joyful colliding of conversations ricocheting down the hallway coming from an airy apartment complex in downtown bustling Tel Aviv. 
 
That was exactly the feeling this gathering was going for. A group of ten young adults who’ve all settled in the Bay after years living in Israel, we rolled up our sleeves to create a Middle Eastern-style feast of Shakshuka (see recipe below) and homemade pita, and toasted to some of our most memorable meals cooked in the Holy Land.
 
Danna Rubin, Northwest Regional Director for Masa Israel Journey, spearheaded the edible effort after hearing from a number of Masa Israel program alums that the thing they missed most from their time spent in Israel was spent making a mess on the stove, in good, raucous, company. “A big part of living in Israel is gathering together and cooking meals together; something less prevalent in American culture,” says Rubin.
 
As the Shakshuka (a deliciously simple dish of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, chili peppers, onions and as many additional ingredients as you can dream up), bubbled and simmered on the stove (after we’d finally agreed to stop futzing with the recipe), some in the group opened up about their favorite Israeli feasts.
 

Not just for laughs

<div class="masa-blog-title">Not just for laughs</div>

By Sophia Jane Wilkof, Midreshet Yeud 
 
This year I have had the opportunity to put my Zionism into meaningful action.
 
I chose to go to a seminary called Midreshet Yeud, where I was able to both immerse myself in Jewish learning to strengthen my Jewish identity, and immerse myself in Israeli life through volunteering to strengthen my tie to this land.
 
I've always loved performing and I wanted to p
 

Jewish Community Celebration - Israel in the Gardens

Jewish Community Celebration - Israel in the Gardens

June 10, 2012 - 11:00  -  June 10, 2012 (All day)

Yerba Buena GardensSan Francisco  -  United States

Get ready to join thousands of members of the greater bay Area Jewish community for our annual event.
Israel in the Gardens, the largest Jewish celebration in Northern California will be more exciting than ever, with lots of musical talents, roundtable community conversations, exciting kids' activities, the new O-Zone for teens, & the After Party (21+) at the Cellar.

rsagal Info

Chicago Israel Experience Celebration & Farewell

Chicago Israel Experience Celebration & Farewell

June 12, 2012 - 19:00

Beth Hillel Bnei EmunahWilmette, IL  - 

The Jewish Agency for Israel, NefeshB’Nefesh&TheAliyah Council of Greater Chicago proudly invite you to the Annual Israel Experience Celebration & Farewell in honor of:
Chicagoland’s New Olim
Naale Elite Academy Students
Masa Israel Journey Participants
 
Tuesday, June 12 2012 at 7:00 pm
Beth Hillel Congregation BnaiEmunah
3220 Big Tree Lane, Wilmette, IL 60091
 
Heavy appetizers; dietary laws observed
 
Chairman of the Aliyah Council of Greater Chicago, Mr. Elliott Robinson
 
Co-sponsors: Masa Israel Journey, Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, Naale Elite Academy, American Zionist Movement, and Ebenezer Midwest
 
We will also be saying farewell to our Chicago shlichim who are returning to Israel 
 
Please RSVP for you and your guests by June 8th to Rachel at aliyahchicago@jafi.org or (847) 674-8861 
 

Young Judaea Year Course Arts Track Exhibition

<div class="masa-blog-title">Young Judaea Year Course Arts Track Exhibition</div>

For the last nine months, in addition to participating in the normal volunteering and study program, the Arts track of Young Judaea Year Course has explored their own artistic expression along with Israel’s Jewish contemporary arts.