The Jerusalem Post: Israeliness is the answer

The Jerusalem Post: Israeliness is the answer

The Jerusalem Post: Israeliness is the answer

May 5, 2016

By Adam Milstein


"The great success of many programs, such as Masa Israel, Gap Year, and in particular, Birthright – with its half a million alumni – illustrate how visiting, exploring and experiencing Israel makes a transformative difference for young people. Research shows that attending a Birthright trip increases one’s desire to date Jewish and raise Jewish children, leads participants to feel more positive about their Jewish identity, and strengthens their connection to their Jewish homeland."


Same, Same But Different: July 4 v. Yom Ha'atzmaut

<div class="masa-blog-title">Same, Same But Different: July 4 v. Yom Ha'atzmaut</div>

Politics and international relations aside, the United States and Israel have quite a bit in common. Case in point: both countries know how to party like it's their birthday.


July 4 Swag

alt="Old Navy Flag T Shirt"

Photo Credit: Old Navy



Yom Ha'atzmaut Swag

alt="Israeli Flag Swag"

.קלַאסִי (that's classic in Hebrew)

Photo Credit: Real Jerusalem Streets


July 4 at the Beach

alt="American Flag Swim Suits"

Photo Credit: Alabama Media Group

Partying like it's 1776?


Yom Ha'atzmaut at the Beach

alt="Israeli Airforce Planes Fly Over Beach"

Photo Credit: Jerusalem World News

Partying like it's 1948?


July 4 Tradition

alt="Nathan's Famous Coney Island"

Photo Credit: New York Daily News

Nathan's Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island, NY.


Yom Ha'atzmaut Tradition

alt="Foam Spray and Blow Up Hammers

Photo Credit: ISRAEL21c

Think foam party meets bar/bat mitzah party give-aways.


July 4 Parade

alt="Colonial Marching Band"

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Kickin' it old school.


Yom Ha'atzmaut Parade

alt="IDF flag parade"

Photo Credit: Alamy

Fancy flag formations.


July 4 Fireworks over the Capitol in Washington, D.C.

alt="Fireworks Over the U.S. Capitol"

Photo Credit: TV Insider

Oh say, can you see...


Yom Ha'atzmaut Fireworks over the Knesset in Jerusalem

alt="Fireworks Over the Israeli Knesset"

Photo Credit: Israel Today

כֹּל עוֹד בַּלֵּבָב פְּנִימָה...
(As long as deep within our hearts...)


Headlines from Israel: June 13-17, 2016

<div class="masa-blog-title">Headlines from Israel: June 13-17, 2016</div>

We know it can be hard for alumni and parents to keep up with the news in Israel, so we've collected some of this week's top headlines for you:


Reuters: Israel Elected to Head Permanent U.N. Committee for First Time


alt="Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Danny Dannon"


Israel on Monday won an election to chair the United Nations' legal committee, the first time that it will head one of the world body's six permanent committees since joining the U.N. in 1949.


While it is a largely symbolic and procedural role, chairing the committee will give Israel a chance to have a higher profile in routine affairs at the United Nations.


Continue Reading


Haaretz: Senior Hamas Member Reportedly Defects to Israel


alt="Hammas fighters in an underground tunnel in Gaza"


Bassam Mahmoud Baraka is said to be highly knowledgeable about the militant group's tunnels in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian websites report.


Continue Reading


The Times of Israel: Nothing will stop Queen and Adam Lambert from Israel Concert


alt="Queen guitarist Brian May and Adam Lambert"


The iconic band with their latest singer, ‘American Idol’ contestant Lambert, set date for September performance.


Continue Reading


Vanity Fair: Curb Your Enthusiasm will return to HBO after 5-year hiatus


alt="Larry David"


We realize this isn't quite Israeli news, but the comeback of this Jewish pop-culture icon is pretty big news for the tribe.


Continue Reading


The Jerusalem Post: Religious war at Western Wall: Skirmish over egalitarian prayer service


alt="Altercation between haredi and non-Orthodox worshipers at the Western Wall"


An egalitarian prayer service at the Western Wall descended into a bad-tempered skirmish on Thursday, when haredi demonstrators sabotaged the event that was intended to underline the demand for a pluralistic prayer space at the site.


Continue Reading


Hit A Home Run With This Israel Baseball Program

<div class="masa-blog-title">Hit A Home Run With This Israel Baseball Program</div>

In the world of sport, Israel is best known for its elite basketball program, featuring Euroleague champion Maccabi Tel-Aviv, and serving as a popular destination for aspiring professional players to develop their skills. However, did you know that Israel had a baseball program? That’s right. For the past 25 years, the Israel Association of Baseball (IAB) has been developing the sport across the entire country. And as the country grows, so does its interest in baseball.




According to Henry Rosenbloom of The Jerusalem Post, the IAB boasts 850 participants in its ever expanding league, catapulting from 590 players in 2013 and 750 in 2014. There are 5 different leagues set up to accommodate age and skill level of players: minor, juvenile, cadet, junior, and premier. The ages throughout these leagues range from 5 years old to adult, beginning with the minor league and maturing with the adult premier league.



The growth of interest and activity in baseball has been reflected in Israel’s national baseball success. Israel is ranked 5th among all European nations and 19th in the world; there are no plans of slowing down. Most recently, Israel’s national team claimed victory in the European C-pool championship and looks to do the same for the B-pool and eventually the A-pool, all in the hopes for qualifying for next World Baseball Classic. In their last attempt in 2012, Israel came within one win of qualifying for the tournament. Over the past few years, multiple Major League Baseball players have appeared on the Israel baseball scene. Some names include Brad Ausmus, Shawn Green, and Gabe Kapler. All arrived with the same mindset of growing America’s pastime in the Jewish homeland.



After these action-packed days, you’ll most likely want to unwind and relax. No need to worry, we’ve got just the thing for you. Destination Israel’s Baseball Experience offers living arrangements right in the heart of Tel Aviv. A vast variety of beautiful beaches, bars, clubs, markets, restaurants, and shopping centers are all at your disposal right when you walk out of your front door. If that’s not enough, there’s all of Israel to discover. From its rich history, to its holy sites, to its breathtaking hikes, there’s so much to explore. If you’re looking for an incredible baseball experience while growing the game across Israel, Israel Baseball Experience is the place for you. Come to Israel. Travel. Learn. Teach. Explore. And Play Ball!



Click here to learn more about Destination Israel’s Israel Baseball Experience.


What Fathers Say About Masa Israel

<div class="masa-blog-title">What Fathers Say About Masa Israel</div>

The traditional American Father’s Day celebration consists of a big ol' family barbecue and gifts for dad.


This year, we're celebrating Father's Day and thanking all the dads out there for supporing their kids' Masa Israel Journeys by sharing their thoughts on what Masa Israel gave to their children:


alt="Aharon Rubinstein"



alt="Vitali Gonceer"



alt="Rabbi David Lister"



alt="David Mizrachi"




5 Unique Advanced Degrees You Can Get in Israel

<div class="masa-blog-title">5 Unique Advanced Degrees You Can Get in Israel</div>

Interested in getting a higher degree? Masa Israel can help you get your degree with experiential learning.  


1.       MBA Global Green

Israel is one of the most advanced countries when it comes to renewable energy and a leader in developing innovative and sustainable technologies. This program trains the next generation of leaders in sustainable business management. This MBA is unique for its focus on environmental, social, and governance issues that are at the core of the decision making process of a business.


Where: Haifa University


Location Perks: Haifa is one of the most diverse cities in Israel. It is home to five different religions, living side-by-side in harmony. This makes Haifa have a rich variety of cultures. Haifa is home to the Ba'Hai Gardens which is a green botanical garden. 


2.       LL.M. Program in Human Rights and International Law

This program focuses on Human Rights and International Law. These fields are a large part of Hebrew University’s Law Department, which is a hub of international activity.


Where: Hebrew University in Jerusalem


Location Perks: Jerusalem is the home of International Law, so you can witness how Israel handles both international law and human rights while studying it! Friday afternoons in Jerusalem are very unique because the shuk is bustling. On week nights, the Machane Yehuda Shuk turns into an outdoor bar scene!


3.       M.A. in Government: Counterterrorism and Homeland Security Studies

This program is in collaboration with the International Institute for Counterterrorism, and is a graduate program that offers tools for critical thinking in this field. Students obtain an understanding of the challenges, first responder duties, security establishments in place, and legal systems in place, based on Israel’s experience in this field.


Where: IDC Herzliya


Location Perks: Herzliya is home to some of the nicest beaches in Israel. It is also home to many diplomats and consulates in Israel. Being so close to the consulates and career minded officials is useful when learning about counterterrorism and homeland security. 


4.       Ben Gurion University Medical School for International Health

This is a medical degree program that is dedicated to training physicians in international health and medicine. It follows the US style of medical degree programs- two years of basic science and two years of clinical science. This program also has a global health track that includes cross cultural communications, challenges of clinical work with translators, nutrition in the developing world, disaster relief, population based medicine, and bio-terrorism.


Where: Ben Gurion University of the Negev


Location Perks: At night, the sky is clear enough to see stars and constellations. The Negev has a unique landscape and is home to a diverse ecosystem of plants and animals. Make sure to bring water on the strenuous hikes in the Negev.


5.       MA in Archaeology and History of the Land of the Bible

Throughout this program, students have a one of a kind experience learning about the most exciting excavations conducted in Israel by TAU scholars. This program can be taken as a one year MA program, as a two year MA program, or as a one year credited course program towards a PhD.


Where: Tel Aviv University


Location Perks: Tel Aviv, also known as “The South Beach of the Middle East” is one of the most progressive cities in the world. The night life in this young, urban, city draws visitors from all over the world. This program is housed in the Institute for Archaeology!


To learn more about these programs, or to find a program that is right for you click here


5 Lesser Known Museums In Jerusalem

<div class="masa-blog-title">5 Lesser Known Museums In Jerusalem</div>

Jerusalem is a place filled with diversity and history. It also happens to be one of the oldest cities in the world.  Not only will you be walking through historical and biblical sites but you will be surrounded by modernity too. Jerusalem has so much to offer and among its already overwhelming sights, there are amazing museums. From modern to traditional there is a museum for everyone in this holy city. Here’s a list of the top 5 lesser known museums in Jerusalem:



1. The Tower of David Museum


“The Citadel itself is a fascinating archaeological site. The finds uncovered within are a testimony to Jerusalem’s eventful past and produce a representation of Jerusalem and its various historical periods in microcosm. The Citadel’s towers offer a 360-degree view of the Old City of Jerusalem as well as the city’s modern areas.”


2. Islamic Art Museum


“The L.A. Mayer Museum for Islamic Art in Jerusalem was founded by the late Mrs. Vera Bryce Salomons, realizing her long-standing idea of giving expression to the impressive artistic achievements of Israel's Muslim neighbors. Mrs. Salomons dedicated the Museum to her friend and teacher, Prof. Leo Arie Mayer.”



3. Bible Lands Museum


“Take an adventure through time! Explore the wonderful world of the lands of the Bible, learn about the cultures of the Ancient Near East through priceless treasures that span history from the dawn of civilization through the rise of Christianity and the Talmudic period. See civilization evolve before your eyes through artifacts that illustrate the daily life of our forefathers. Learn about the roots of Monotheism, the origins of the alphabet and much more. Changing special exhibitions broaden the Museum‘s scope including exquisite displays of classical art and a rare collection of Pompeian frescoes.”


4. Israel Museum


“The Israel Museum is the largest cultural institution in the State of Israel and is ranked among the world’s leading art and archaeology museums. Founded in 1965, the Museum houses encyclopedic collections, including works dating from prehistory to the present day, in its Archaeology, Fine Arts, and Jewish Art and Life Wings, and features the most extensive holdings of biblical and Holy Land archaeology in the world. In just forty-five years, thanks to a legacy of gifts and generous support from its circle of patrons worldwide, the Museum has built a far-ranging collection of nearly 500,000 objects, representing the full scope of world material culture.”


5. The Ticho House


“Avraham Ticho moved to Jerusalem from Moravia in 1912 to open an eye clinic for Jerusalem's Arab and Jewish citizens, and his wife Anna's paintings of the rocky, olive tree-studded hills surrounding the city would eventually make her one of the stars of the nascent artistic renaissance in Palestine. The Ticho House is home to a gallery of Anna's paintings, Avraham's chanukiyah (Chanukah menorah) collection, and a library stocked with books on the city of Jerusalem. Cultural events, including concerts and poetry readings, are often hosted.”




A Unique Gap Year Experience With Aardvark

<div class="masa-blog-title">A Unique Gap Year Experience With Aardvark</div>

by Miranda Levingston, from Philadelphia, PA.  

My ravkav (Travel fare card) and I have a love/hate relationship.  I’ve been to the ravkav offices on 3 different occasions to issue a new card, because I’m always losing it for some reason. I also happen to look homeless and confused in my ravkav ID photo, because the last time I got a new card, the apathetic employee didn’t clearly indicate when the picture was being taken, and where I was supposed to be looking. But, I love my ravkav nonetheless.


I love my ravkav because it’s an essential tool to adventure. No matter where you want to go, you usually need some kind of public transportation to get you there.  Riding the bus is an essential part of living in a different country, any gap year kid will tell you that.  And, while public transportation can seem like a major inconvenience, it’s actually taught me a lot about my surroundings and myself. So, here are the 3 things I’ve learned this year from the bus.



Lesson one: Be present. Be present because every second of your life is an experience, good or bad, and its up to you to make the most out of it.  Your adventure begins the minute you leave the apartment, not when you arrive at your final destination.  Some of the best conversations I’ve ever had have been on the bus on our way to some weekend excursion. For however long your bus ride is, your life is at a thrilling halt.  There you are, hurdling forward down the highway, while also stopping time.


And that’s kind of like this year. We’ve hit the pause button of the western education system, and this year feels like it’s flown by.   On Aardvark, feeling present extends further then just bus rides. Last month, we took a giant Aardvark camping trip in honor of Julia’s birthday.  It was open invite and so many awesome people showed up. For 2 whole days on the shores of the Kinneret, our mornings began when the sun came up, and the only thing on our to-do-lists was to chill.  I got to know so many people on a deeper level because everyone had one thing in common-we were all present, not just physically, but also mentally. Everybody brought such a genuine energy to the campsite that weekend, and it was beautiful to be a part of it.


Even when we don’t go all the way to the Kinneret to chill, we preserved that mentally-present quality of our down time in Jerusalem. One of my favorite activities this semester has been Saturday afternoons at the park, playing sports, music, and Cards Against Humanity. Those are the times when we are all collectively present.  We are all focused on living in the moment, and it’s so much fun to be part of such an authentic and joyful group of people.



Lesson Two: Say yes to adventure.  I love riding the bus with my roommates, planning on going to the shuk or something, and then ending up somewhere else just because we passed by somewhere cool and impulsively decided to get off.


Saying yes to adventure means being open to exploring the world around you at any moment. Saying yes to adventure means being ready to take risks, in pursuit of a potentially wonderful experience. Saying yes to adventure means to welcome the feeling of leaving your comfort zone in honor of the magic and authenticity that comes with spontaneity.


This year, I’ve found that stepping outside your comfort zone is the best way to experience not only the world around you, but also your true self.  It’s in the moments when you’re genuinely excited, seriously scared, and full of energy that you learn the most about who you are and what you are truly capable of.


And, it’s safe to say; we’ve all made a habit out of going on random adventures and taking unplanned detours. I’ve loved exploring and living in two of the most interesting and diverse cities in the whole world. I’ve learned from impulsively going to cities near and far and roaming around.  I’ve relished having out-of-body experiences when jumping into different bodies of water, and sleeping tent-less under the stars.  All of these experiences have taught me something about the world around me, and brought me closer to myself.



Lesson three: Everything is better when shared with people you love.  Even when there aren’t any seats on the egged and you have to sit on the floor for six hours, it becomes an adventure and a bonding experience, rather then a burden. At every twist and turn this year, I’ve been so grateful for the family that all of us have created.  For the highs and the lows, we’ve become an unbreakable net of support that ebbs and flows to meet each-others needs.


When experiences are shared, they become better. Hard times strengthen relationships.  Ordinary things become great. Great things become extraordinary.


This gap year was an incredible adventure, and it was largely because of the positive, creative, hilarious, and kind people I was surrounded with.

I want to end this speech with a quote from A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh.


“How wonderful it is to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”


To learn more about Aardvark Gap Year Program, click here. 


What We've Been Up to in 2016

<div class="masa-blog-title">What We've Been Up to in 2016</div>

It's hard to believe we're almost half-way through the year! 


So far, 2016 has been an extremely exciting year for Masa Israel Journey. Here's a look at what we've been up to in Israel and the United States:




alt="Masa at the Birthright Mega Event"

Birthright Mega Event

Masa staff, participants and partners met thousands of Taglit-Birthright Israel travelers and helped them learn how to get back to Israel.




alt="Masa Israel Teaching Fellows Enrichment Day"

MITF Enrichment Day

Masa Israel Teaching Fellows from across the country came to Jerusalem to develop their professional skills and share best practices for teaching inside and outside of the classroom.


alt="Israel on Campus Fair for Gap Year Participants"

Make Your Journey Matter

Masa brought a delegation of Israel on campus professionals to Israel and hosted a back-to-campus fair where gap year participants met representatives from AEPi, AIPAC, CAMERA, Chabad on Campus, The David Project, Hillel, Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC), Jerusalm U, JNF, J Street U, Stand With Us, and more.


alt="Israel Tech Challenge Hackathon"

Israel Tech Challenge Hackathon

Israel Tech Challenge CTO Coding Bootcamp held its first hackathon at Google Campus Tel Aviv. 


alt="Team Masa Runs the Tel Aviv Marathon"

Samsung Tel Aviv Marathon

Every year, Masa participants run in marathons and other races across Israel. This year, for the first time ever our participants, staff and partners ran the Tel Aviv Marathon together as #TeamMasa.


alt="Ambassador Dan Shapiro addresses Masa and CCAR"

An Evening with CCAR and U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro

Masa participants and staff met with the members of the Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) and U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro in Tel Aviv for an evening of networking and entertainment.




alt="Gap Year Leadership Seminar"

Gap Year Leadership Seminar

Participants from various Masa gap year programs gathered in Jerusalem for a day of workshops and field trips to help them prepare for the challenges they may face on college campuses in the fall.


alt="Welcome to the AIPAC Village"

Photo by Michael Robinson, Masa Israel alumnus

AIPAC Policy Conference 2016

Masa brought 40 American alumni to the AIPAC Policy Conference - our largest alumni delegation yet!


alt="Masa-GLI Global Leadership Summit"

Masa-GLI Global Leadership Summit

Each semester, Masa, in partnership with the Jewish Agency for Israel's Global Leadership Institute brings post-college program participants from from around the world together for the Masa-GLI Global Leadership Summit. a five-day intensive leadership training seminar, the Leadership Summit gives participants the opportunity to join a network of Jewish leaders and organizations that support their personal and professional growth in Israel and beyond.




alt="Find us on Snapchat"


April tends to be a quiet month for us with our staff and participants taking vacation over Passover, but this year, we joined Snapchat! Follow us at masaisrael.




alt="Yom HaShoah"

Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day)

Hundreds of Masa participants attended the offical State of Israel Yom HaShoah Ceremony at Yad Vashem on the evening Wednesday, May 4.


alt="Yom HaZikaron"

Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day for Israel's Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terror)

On the evening of Tuesday, May 10 Masa hosted its annual Yom HaZikaron ceremony at the Yad Lashiryon Memorial at Latrun is the Armored Corps’ Memorial Site and Museum. Masa's annual ceremony is the largest English language Yom HaZikaron ceremony in Israel.


alt="Yom Ha'atzmaut"

Yom Ha'atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day)

In Israel, Memorial Day is immediately followed by Independence Day. As the sun set on Wednesday, May 11, the entire country transitioned form a state of mourning to one of celebration. From dancing the night away on city streets, to the unofficially traditional mangal (barbecue) the next day, Masa participants celebrated Israel's 68th birthday like locals.


alt="Masa-GLI Wilf Family Holocaust Education Program in Poland

Masa-GLI Wilf Family Holocaust Education Program in Poland

Thanks to the incredible generosity of the Wilf family, Masa is able to bring a select group of oustanding participants to Poland to explore the local Jewish community's tragic history and its incredibly inspiring revival.


alt="Jewish American Heritage Month with Bibi"

Jewish American Heritage Month

On Wednesday, May 25 Masa participants attended a special ceremony at the Knesset in honor of Jewish American Heritage Month. Some were even lucky enough to snap a selfie with Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu.


alt="Masa Israel Culture Event"

Masa Israel Culture Event

Approximately 2,000 Masa participants gathered in Jerusalem on Thursday, May 26 for our annual cultural event, which featured interactive workshops and performances by Amos Oz, Tom Franc, Cafe Shahor Hazak and many more.


5 Reasons to Attend Grad School in Israel

<div class="masa-blog-title">5 Reasons to Attend Grad School in Israel</div>

With more than 2,000 years of history, Israel is a place where ancient meets modern. There’s no better way to get an education than exploring your passions while immersed in an exciting new culture. Besides the historic and cultural experience, there are many benefits of getting an advanced degree in Israel. From lower tuition to building a global network, your grad school experience will be like no other for these 5 reasons:

1. Low Tuition


Getting an MBA, MPH, MSc, LL.M., and Master’s degree is a big decision. Many questions arise when deciding which degree to pursue such as what, where, and most importantly how much? Israel offers top notch degrees in world renowned universities for almost half the price of a US Institution. Most importantly worldwide recognition is a guarantee due to the prestige and high reputation of most Israeli universities around the world.

2. Length


You want to pursue an advanced degree but you don’t want to take many years to do so? In Israel, top universities offer one year programs in various fields. Yes, one year programs that dive right into the subject and provide you with real life experience in the field.

3. Global Community


In Israel, classrooms are made up of people from all over the world. You will be exposed to global perspectives and real-world applications that allow you to master the complexities of today’s demanding and evolving world. Not to mention, the next time you want to go to Italy or New Zealand you will most likely find a place to crash.

4. Expertise


One thing that Israelis do best is become experts in their fields. If you look at the start-up nation there are breakthroughs in almost all areas. From security, archeology, sustainable living, tech, diplomacy, social work, medicine, you name it. Israeli universities are made up of the best of the best, it’s no surprise everyone flocks to Israeli universities.

5. Language


As you're walking down the street in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv you will most likely hear various languages. From Russian to Arabic, in Israel you can explore many languages and cultures in every way. Many Israeli graduate programs offer Hebrew or Arabic courses in order to immerse you in Israeli society and of course learn to bargain at the shuk!

To learn more on how to pursue a higher education degree in Israel, click here.