Stephanie Aseraph is the Masa Regional Representative for D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware. Prior to joining the Masa team, she attended Towson University for both her undergraduate and graduate degree, where she received a B.A. in Family Studies & Human Services, and an M.A. in Leadership in Jewish Education & Communal Service. Although born and raised in Maryland, Stephanie grew up in an Israeli home. As she would travel to Israel often throughout her childhood, Stephanie’s passion for Israel and its culture became stronger. Stephanie’s love for Israel is what drove her to participate in Masa over a semester abroad at Tel Aviv University. Upon her return, Stephanie was Towson University’s Masa Israel Campus Ambassador. The impact of her abroad experience is what brought her here to help others in her region travel to Israel and create their own journey.
Caroline Levine is a proud graduate of McGill University's school of social work. Since graduating she has been working in the Montreal Jewish community. She worked as an Engagement Associate at Hillel Montreal for five years. And since 2016 she is the Masa Israel Journey representative in Montreal, head of her local MIT (Madrichim in Training) leadership program, responsible for Birthright Israel and post trip programming, which are all a part of GenMTL, a department of Federation CJA. She has staffed several Israel experiences and several other immersive experiences (in Uruguay, Berlin, and Florida).
Dafna was born in Israel and moved to Vancouver in 2012 after pursuing her Masters in Diplomatic Studies from Tel Aviv University.
In Vancouver, Dafna continued to follow her passion for working with non-profit organizations and young adults.
Dafna has been working at the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver since 2013 as a program coordinator in the Israel and Overseas Department.
Currently, she is a representative of Masa Israel Journey.
Dafna shares her love of Israel through her work with Masa and programs such as Birthright and March of the Living
Shalom specializes in the creation and management of start-up philanthropic endeavors, developing synergies that help foundations, high net worth families, and philanthropists implement their visions. He has worked with a broad international array of funders, foundations and organizations on all aspects of philanthropy. Two of his proudest achievements are The Children's Memorial at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem for the Spiegel Family and The Tel Aviv Cinematheque for the Municipality of Tel Aviv.
Most recently, Shalom created a national STEM Education Initiative in Israel for The Henry and Susan Samueli Foundation, developed the B2T Sustainability Project for YK Center in the US, Europe, Africa and Armenia, and co-created the new Meaningful Influencers Platform for Lifestyles Magazine where he serves as Vice Chairman.
Previously, Shalom served for a decade as President and CEO of Jewish Federation and Family Services in Orange County California, as Director of the American and International Committees for the Tel Aviv Foundation, and as Cofounder and Director of the Israel Air Force Center & the Fisher Institute for Air Power.
In 1997, Shalom relocated to Israel to create the United Way of Israel (Matan -Your Way to Give) a vision of Israeli businesswomen and philanthropist Shari Arison, which has raised and distributed millions of dollars and generated hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours across the country. Upon the death of Ted Arison, Shalom assumed the Presidency of the Ted Arison Family Foundation and helped build its infrastructure and funding models.
Shalom and his wife Robin, with whom he founded Index LLC, have four children and three grandchildren.
Title Image Credit: Pixabay
By Rachel Greenberg, Nativ Alumna
It’s hard feeling like a stranger in your own home, but just as you needed time to adjust when you got to Israel, so too you need to adjust back to life here in the United States of America. When you were in Israel, you probably did not realize how much you changed every day, but you did. You learned from everyone around you, picked up new mannerisms, and adapted completely to a totally new lifestyle. So what happens now that you’re home? You’re not the same person you were when you left, but everything around you remains seemingly unchanged.
Here are 9 ways to deal with reverse culture shock:
1. Share Your Experiences
Now that you’re home it may seem like you’re alone, but your friends, family, and community do want to hear about how you lived like a local, became a master negotiator in the shuk, and found your way around Israel via public transportation. Plus, if you become a mentor for others who want to go abroad, you will always have an attentive audience to share your story with!
2. Stay Informed
If you’re feeling out of the loop, check social media and Israeli news sites to stay up-to-date with current events in Israel. This can not only help you feel connected, but you’ll be able to talk to other alumni and friends about what’s going on in Israel. Don’t just revert back to who you were before your experience; instead, wear your elephant pants out, everywhere you go, and rock it!
3. Write About it
Sometimes, the best way to express your feelings about your experience abroad is to write about. Writing allows you to positively articulate your feelings and express you sentiments about your recent return to America. Ten years from now, you will look back at something you wrote and you and make yourself fall in love with Israel all over again. Not to mention, we’re always looking for awesome alumni bloggers.
4. Stay Connected
It is helpful to have people in your life who shared experiences with you in Israel. You can not only reminisce with them about hikes and nights out, but they are also simultaneously experiencing the same emotions as you, and are the only ones who are able to understand how you’re feeling without words. People you met abroad will be some of your closest friends no matter where you all end up living. The best part about staying connected with people you met abroad is travelling to see them for reunions!
5.Seek new experiences
Find hidden gems in your area, get excited and have yourself a little adventure. Being home doesn’t mean you have to go back to your same old routine: meet new people, explore your surroundings, and try new things. You’d be surprised to find out how many places you don’t know about.
6.Make a Schedule
In America, one part of you will want to see everyone you haven’t seen in months, and the other part of you may want to stay in bed and look at pictures and videos from your time in Israel. Plan time in your schedule to reminisce, but also try to get back into your life at home by creating a schedule.
7.It’s okay to miss Israel
Whatever you feel when you get back from a life changing experience is okay. It’s okay to cry, it’s okay to laugh, it’s okay to plan a trip back, but it is important to not let missing Israel consume you. When you miss it, let yourself acknowledge the amazing experience you just had and use that emotion to realize how much you learned. You miss it because of how much you loved the experience and you wouldn’t want it any other way.
8.Let yourself process
Feel it. Dive in face first to everything your feeling. Embrace your emotions and give yourself permission to relax, absorb and really think about your time abroad. Be patient with yourself as you undergo the many different emotions and changes that come along with re-entry to America.
9.Rock your Israeli Look
Instead of trying to revert back to your old American fashion, wear your Naot in the summer, keep your new piercings with pomegranate studs, and rock your genie pants in the supermarket.
The Stories of the Fallen: Young Jews from Around the World Mark Yom Hazikron in Israel">The Stories of the Fallen: Young Jews from Around the World Mark Yom Hazikron in Israel
More than 4,000 students and young professionals from around the world came together this week in Israel for one of the country’s most somber holidays – Yom Hazikaron. Gathering just north of Tel Aviv in Ra’anana Park Amphitheater, they honored fallen soldiers and civilians during an annual commemoration organized by Masa Israel Journey, a project of The Jewish Agency for Israel and the government of Israel. Honored guests included representatives of those bodies, and also included representatives of Keren Hayesod - United Israel Appeal (UIA), and the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA).
Honored guests and representatives pay their respects to Israel’s fallen soldiers during the Yom Hazikaron commemoration at the Ra’anana Park Amphitheater in Ra’anana, Israel, organized by Masa Israel Journey, The Jewish Agency for Israel, and the government of Israel. From left to right: Eliezer (Moodi) Sandberg, world chair, Keren Hayesod-UIA; David Koschitzky, chairman, Keren Hayesod-UIA World Board of Trustees; Dan Lahav, deputy director general, Department of Home Affairs, Planning and Development, accompanied by his wife; Tzachi Hanegbi, minister of regional cooperation and acting communications minister; Natan Sharansky, chairman of the executive for The Jewish Agency for Israel; Alan Hoffmann, director general, The Jewish Agency for Israel; Avital Elfant, educational project manager, Masa Israel Journey; Liran Avisar-Ben Horin, CEO, Masa Israel Journey; Aaron Abramovich, chairman of the board of directors of Masa Israel Journey; and Yossi Bachar, chairman of Israel Discount Bank, accompanied by his wife. Photo credit: Yishai Nazarov.
Many of the attendees are in Israel for long-term, immersive internship, gap year or volunteer programs through Masa Israel Journey, and this was the first time they participated in a national gathering in Israel of this scale and significance: it is the country’s largest English-language Yom Hazikaron ceremony, and with simultaneous translations into French, Spanish and Russian, it allowed Jews from around the world to absorb the full meaning of the holiday.
For the American participants, the occasion stands in stark contrast to Memorial Day traditions at home, beginning with the sound of sirens ringing across the country. Allie Donahoo, a San Diego native, shared that the Yom Hazikaron ceremony – and the transition to Yom Ha'atzmaut – was transformative. “It is one thing to learn about these holidays in religious school and to hear about it from the shlichim [Israeli emissaries] growing up,” commented Donahoo, who is currently participating in the Masa Israel Teaching Fellows program. “But to experience it first hand, to be in the heaviness of the day and then for it to switch from mourning to celebration, from tears to fireworks, is indescribable."
While the ceremony honored all 23,544 who have died defending the State of Israel since the start of the Zionist movement, it highlighted the personal stories of six individuals, whose family and friends spoke throughout the evening, recalling their late loved ones’ dedication to the army, to their comrades, and to preserving Israel’s history and its future.
Aaron Abramovich, chairman of the board of directors of Masa Israel Journey, noted in his address:
“Our mission at Masa Israel Journey is to give our participants – more than 12,000 young people every year who come to Israel to study, volunteer, develop careers, and develop as individuals – a deep and meaningful Israeli experience. Part of that ‘Israeli experience’ is connecting with what it takes to have our independent homeland – the heavy price so many families pay. And so, you are here with every part of Israeli society tonight to hear the personal stories, and our national story. It is our wish to bring you into the Israeli family, by sharing these stories. These individual stories are a source of inspiration – and so is the very fact of our togetherness here, people from around the world, remembering them."
Aaron Abramovich, chairman of the board of directors of Masa Israel Journey, delivers remarks during the annual Yom Hazikaron commemoration organized by Masa Israel Journey, The Jewish Agency for Israel, and the government of Israel at the Ra’anana Park Amphitheater in Ra’anana, Israel. Over 4,000 students and young professionals from around the world attended the gathering on April 30, 2017, each of whom are participating in long-term, immersive Masa Israel Journey programs across the country. Photo credit: Yishai Nazarov.
Some family and friends of the fallen participated in the artistic segment of the evening, honoring the lives of their loved ones. Stories told included that of Sergeant Michael Levin, a lone solider who was killed during the Second Lebanon War at the age of 22 after making made aliyah from Pennsylvania. Following his death, Michael’s parents founded the Center for Lone Soldiers, which offers a place for soldiers to gather, strengthening their community and connecting them to Israeli society.
Sergeant Jordan Bensimon, who made aliyah from France as a teenager, was killed during Operation Protective Edge in 2014 at the age of 22. Thousands attended his funeral, and during the Yom Hazikaron ceremony, guests watched a video featuring Jordan’s friends and relatives, to learn more about his short but full life.
Sergeant Udi (Yehuda) Algarbali, who fell at the age of 22 while defending his soldiers in combat in Lebanon. Following his death in 1994, his parents founded the Netivei Udi Association, which leads activities that Udi himself once organized, such as hikes for the cadets in the Paratroopers Teleprocessing Corps, where he served.
Shlomtzion (Shlomtzi) Landau-Halgua, member of the management committee of Gar’in Udi (Nahal post), and Aviad Kitsberg, graduate of Gar’in Udi, honor Sergeant Udi (Yehuda) Algarbali, who fell in combat, during the annual Yom Hazikaron commemoration organized by Masa Israel Journey, The Jewish Agency for Israel, and the government of Israel at the Ra’anana Park Amphitheater in Ra’anana, Israel. Over 4,000 students and young professionals from around the world attended the gathering on April 30, 2017, each of whom are participating in long-term, immersive Masa Israel Journey programs across the country. Photo credit: Yishai Nazarov.
Lance Corporal Hadar Cohen a police officer who was fatally shot just last year at the age of 19 at Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate, becoming the first border policewoman to be killed in action, was honored by her friend, Corporal Yahav Drori. Yahav described the community center in Or Yehuda, Hadar's home town, which was created in her memory, to inspire young people and serve as a model for their military service. Yahav will soon be a commander in the border police training’s recently renamed unit: the Hadar Company.
Sergeant Dimitri (Dima) Levitas, who loved sports, architecture, and music, was killed by sniper fire during Operation Protective Edge in 2014 at the age of 25. Gilad Appelstein, who handed his command over to Dima, recalled how he cared after his soldiers as if they were his own children – soldiers who continue to celebrate Dima at regular music performances that his family holds in his memory on the kibbutz where he grew up.
For many Masa Israel Journey participants in the audience, the story of Ezra Schwartz hit closest to home – a Masa participant himself, the Massachusetts native was studying at Yeshivat Ashreinu in Beit Shemesh when he was killed in a shooting attack while traveling to a volunteer program. A film clip screened during the ceremony showed what Ezra loved about his Masa program, Israel, and the Torah, before his life was taken at the age of 18.
Government officials and IDF representatives also made remarks, speaking to the participants about their obligation to uphold the memories of all those who have fallen. Speakers included Tzachi Hanegbi, minister of regional cooperation and acting communications minister; Natan Sharansky, chairman of the executive for The Jewish Agency for Israel; and David Koschitzky, chairman of Keren Hayesod-UIA World Board of Trustees, and the aforementioned Chairman Abramovich of Masa.
Natan Sharansky, chairman of the executive for The Jewish Agency for Israel, delivers remarks during the annual Yom Hazikaron commemoration organized by Masa Israel Journey, The Jewish Agency for Israel, and the government of Israel at the Ra’anana Park Amphitheater in Ra’anana, Israel. Over 4,000 students and young professionals from around the world attended the gathering on April 30, 2017, each of whom are participating in long-term, immersive Masa Israel Journey programs across the country. Photo credit: Yishai Nazarov.
An evening that started with sounding of sirens and was filled with song and prayer ended with pensive silence, as the crowds filed quietly out of the amphitheater, carrying with them the stories of peers they would never know.
By Sydney Peters
Over the past few years I’ve had the pleasure of traveling throughout Europe, Asia and just the tiniest bit of Africa. I love wandering down side streets and finding out all a city has to offer, even if it’s staring at a masterpiece on a brick wall. Sometimes it's just one graffitied word and other times it’s a whole building that has been transformed into a piece of art.
For these reasons, Berlin was my all-time favorite city for street art. That is, until I moved to Israel to teach English in Be’er Sheva on Masa Israel Teaching Fellows. Here in this gorgeous land that boasts a huge art scene, you can’t walk down a street without finding at least one speckled and worded up work of art plastered on the side of a building.
Israeli street art has a voice of its own. There are some pieces that have been up for decades because the government has found them to be that important. There are other areas where pieces may last only a few hours before someone has something else to say. After all, our people are known for being opinionated. So, enough with the text and on to the beauty of Israeli street art.
Here are a few of my favorites:
12. My parents came to visit recently and while we were walking through the vibrant streets of Tel Aviv I came across this tag. One of my favorite things to do when I visit a new city is to grab a map, orient myself and wander in any direction. I always know I can pull my map out and become ‘unlost,’ but there is no better way to get to know a city than to get lost.
11. This fall, after a hectic first week of settling into our new city of Be’er Sheva, one of our first group activities was a scavenger hunt of the old city (yep, Be’er Sheva has one, too). As we walked by this piece, everyone immediately whipped out their phones, firing up Snapchat to share it with everyone back home. This piece is a friendly reminder of how much I’ve grown since the beginning of September and how much of a home Be’er Sheva has become.
10. One weekend I visited some Masa friends in Netanya and I was totally shocked when I was greeted by large murals like this one. Until then, Netanya didn’t strike me as the artsiest community, but now I’m counting down the days until I can visit again. This piece was such a wave of nostalgia; I always dreamed riding the Magic School Bus as a kid. And, let’s be honest, who didn’t want Miss Frizzle as their teacher?
9. This unique piece of multi-media street art can be found in Tel Aviv’s Florentin neighborhood. The frames are actually made out of wood, there are googly eyes on the bench, and stickers throughout. It adds a whole new level of dimension to the piece and keeps your eyes constantly wandering. I spent at least a half an hour at this wall, photographing it from every angle.
8. Do you know who all of these musicians are and why they’re memorialized here in Florentin? Amy Winehouse, Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain, to name a few. They’re all members of the 27 club, meaning they all died when they were the age of 27. You may be asking, who is the man on the far right? It’s believed to be the artist, Jonathan Kislev. According to my guide, there is some argument as to whether or not the pink paint over Kislev’s fast was done by Kislev himself or another artist. One rumor is that Kislev was so disappointed in all that he hadn’t accomplished by the age of 27, that he included paint to cover his face.
7. Ever since street art angel wings starting dominating my Instagram, I’ve been on the hunt for them. I even saw a post claiming that there was a set in Florentin, so I spent over an hour searching for them with no luck. However, did I get lucky when a friend in Netanya sent me a picture of these and they did not disappoint.
6. One of the things I find so fascinating about street art is how it’s constantly changing. This alleyway in Florentin, is one of the very places where you can see a piece one day and the next day it’s covered with something new. I could walk around this alley staring at the different tags for hours.
5. Technology has become such a permanent part of our lives in so many ways. I’ve seen this piece throughout Tel Aviv, but this photo was taken near Shuk HaCarmel. I think it’s a good reminder to put our phones down for a moment and appreciate everything that is around us. I mean, if you have your nose in your phone, would you even see this when walking by?
4. I decided not to save the world today.” Haven’t we all thought this? These are so many pressures in our lives, sometimes it’s just nice to not think about one. I also really love the typography on this piece, which I found meandering down the many streets of Florentin.
3. One of my favorite sayings is “I’m just one wanderlusting soul in this big, bad world.” If I asked someone to create a representation of that, this piece in Netanya would be a great pick.
2. Outside of Machane Yehuda, I haven’t seen a lot of street art in Jerusalem. While my parents were in town, we wandered down a side street and came across a lovely spread of street art. This tree of life was one of my favorites. I bought myself a tree of life ring during first solo trip to Europe in 2014, and I’ve found myself drawn to the symbol ever since.
1. It’s quite common to find the word ‘Coexist’ spray painted on walls near Tel Aviv’s Shuk HaCarmel. To me it represents the diversity and acceptance of Tel Aviv itself – a city, packed with tourists from every corner of the world and known for its vibrant the LGBTQ community. Here’s a pic of a spray painted ‘Coexist’ on RamBam Street.
Sydney Peterson is a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow in Be'er Sheva, where she serves as an English teaching assistant in a local elementary school. Outside the classroom, she seizes every opportunity for adventure in Israel and around the world. She loves searching for street art, immersing herself in new cultures and eating her way through new cities.
8 Need-To-Know Hebrew Phrases To Learn Before Going to Israel">8 Need-To-Know Hebrew Phrases To Learn Before Going to Israel
By Axel Angeles
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.