Masa Israel Alumni Fellow of the Week: Samantha Shevgert

<div class="masa-blog-title">Masa Israel Alumni Fellow of the Week: Samantha Shevgert</div>

Samantha Shevgert knew she was Jewish but didn’t know what it meant to live a Jewish life. She decided to learn about her Jewish roots in a 10 ½ month Neve Yerushalayim Seminary in Jerusalem, Israel. During her time in Jerusalem, she learned about the importance of Judaism, Torah, and gained friendships for a lifetime. She also gained experience in her career while in Israel by volunteering every week in a Jewish nursing home using her Russian speaking skills to assist those in need.


After her Masa Israel Journey, Samantha returned to South Florida and has helped strengthen the Jewish community. Samantha’s knew found knowledge and connection with Judaism helped her start and become part of many Jewish organizations and communities. She is a founding member of the Moishe House Aventura, Chabad of Ft.Lauderdale, and Yehudi of South Beach. Her efforts in the Jewish community have surpassed the norm and have made her an outstanding leader in the Jewish community of South Florida.


Sam holds a BA in Public Health and Associates Degree in Occupational Therapy. Her experience in Israel has helped her with her career as an occupational therapist. She focuses in In-Patient Rehabilitation Hospitality as well as working with children with autism.
 

What was the most meaningful aspect of your Masa Israel experience?


Every moment of the Masa Israel experience was incredibly meaningful! These 10 months changed my life and shaped who I have become. Being able to spend an extended amount of time in Israel allowed me to not just learn about what it is to be Jewish and how to lead a Jewish life but also how to integrate it into who I am and live it. It truly shaped me; it was the catapult to my now Jewish involvement.


What inspired you to become a Masa Israel Alumni Fellow?


I applied to be a Masa Israel Alumni Fellow because being a part of the Masa experience myself it changed my life. I am so passionate about Israel and bringing awareness to people and learning about Judaism. I would love nothing more than to become a great leader in my community. I want to help send people to Israel to have as much of a meaningful experience as I did!


Each Masa Israel Alumni Fellow is required to create an Impact project to bring back to their local community, either to increase local alumni involvement or help recruit new participants for Masa Israel programs. What ideas do you have for your Impact project, should you be chosen as a Fellow?


I am a member of the Moishe House in Aventura, Florida. I would love to incorporate all of the Israel opportunities to that experience. Masa has a lot to offer to our house and we are able to use the house to spread the word on what Masa does!

 

 

Learn more about the Masa Alumni Fellows Program.

 

 

Masa Israel alumnae giving back to the world. #InternationalWomensDay

<div class="masa-blog-title">Masa Israel alumnae giving back to the world. #InternationalWomensDay</div>

In honor of International Women’s Day, we decided to highlight our fellow Masa Israel alumnae and their amazing accomplishments. Here at Masa we know our participants have the potential to not only make a difference in their own lives, but in the lives of others. Giving back is the focus this month and it’s the perfect time to mention a few alumnae who have done just that.

 

1. Kayci Merritté, Yahel Social Change Program 2014-2015 Alumna

 

 

“After my Masa Israel experience, I returned to my hometown of St. Louis to serve as an AmeriCorps member assisting in refugee resettlement. Once-a-week I pick up new arrivals from all of the world – Congo, Iraq, Cuba, the list goes on – from the airport and bring them to their new homes. Throughout the rest of my week, I help these new residents of my city access the medical care that they need. I’m not sure I would have applied for this position if it were not for my experiences in Ramat Eliyahu.”


Learn more about the Yahel Social Change Program.

 


2. Jamie Gold, Masa Israel Teaching Fellows 2012-2013 Alumna

 



“As a result of her Masa Israel Teaching Fellows experience, Jamie chose to pursue a career in Jewish education. Upon returning to Los Angeles, Jamie moved into the Moishe House in West L.A. and enrolled in the DeLeT program at Hebrew Union College. “Masa Israel Teaching Fellows is the only reason I was picked for the HUC program,” Jamie says. She believes it gave her the necessary Israel and teaching experiences to be a top-notch Jewish educator.”


Learn more about the Masa Israel Teaching Fellows Program.

 

3. Rachel Pope, MSIH 2011 alumna

 


“Rachel is completing a two year fellowship in Malawi. She is learning how to repair obstetric fistulas and working with the next generation of Malawian residents at the newly created Malawian OB/GYN residency program. Rachel is currently living in Lilongwe, Malawi and working for the government hospital, Kamuzu Central.”

 

Learn more about the The Medical School for International Health (MSIH).

 


4. Ashleigh Talberth, Pardes Insitute of Jewish Studies 2014-2015 Alumna

 


“A serial green-tech entrepreneur, Ashleigh has pioneered initiatives for a broad range of leading companies, startups, and institutions for over 12 years. She currently consults for emerging companies primarily in California and Israel, the world's leading green-tech and startup hot spots.” ("Israelcagreentech." Israelcagreentech. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Mar. 2016.)
 

Learn more about the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies. 

 

Masa Israel Alumni Fellow of the Week: Josh Entis

<div class="masa-blog-title">Masa Israel Alumni Fellow of the Week: Josh Entis</div>

Joshua Entis has a special place in his heart for the Jewish community around the world. After volunteering for Masa Israel Teaching Fellows in Netanya, Josh knew that his experience would remain a part of his life forever.

 

Becoming a Masa Alumni Fellow has encouraged Joshua to express his love and passion for Masa, the Jewish Community, and the State of Israel. Before his journey to Israel, Joshua's Jewish Identity was almost non-existent, and now, 2 years after returning, he feels more connected, educated, and part of a community more than ever before.

 

Currently Josh is living in Seattle, WA, he works as an account executive by day and a waiter by night. Joshua is always finding new ways to strengthen a strong set of values and beliefs to live by, while exploring his life path, where ever it leads.

 

What was the most meaningful aspect of your Masa Israel experience?

 

Having the opportunity to make a difference and add value to the lives of children in Netanya.

 

What inspired you to become a Masa Israel Alumni Fellow?

 

Being a Masa Alumni Fellow will allow my love and passion for the organization to shine. My experience with Masa changed the way I see the world. There are thousands of people who can help support Masa and even more who can benefit from the over 200+ Masa programs. Being a Masa Israel Fellow will help me spread that message. This opportunity will help me connect with the people who share the same values and beliefs; creating awesomeness!!

 

Each Masa Israel Alumni Fellow is required to create an Impact project to bring back to their local community, either to increase local alumni involvement or help recruit new participants for Masa Israel programs. What ideas do you have for your Impact project, should you be chosen as a Fellow?

 

One place to start would be the Hillel at the University of Washington. They host a  Shabbat Dinner every Friday night at their campus location. This is only for undergrads. This would be an unbelievable place to volunteer as a guest speaker. There can be an event planned (bowling, mini golf, something) that would take anyone who was interested to find out more about them and their interests, establish a relationship, and turn them into Masa participants. Jconnect would be another option too. They are post-college organizartion that caters to young professionals ages 22-31.

 

Learn more about the Masa Israel Alumni Fellows program.

 

Marisa Obuchowski

Valeria Esquinazi

Valeria Esquinazi

Spanish Speaking Desk Representative

Yael Pearlman

Yael Pearlman

English Speaking Desk Representative

Polina Yurkovetsky

Polina Yurkovetsky

Russian Speaking Desk Representative

The Other Side of Purim: #MasaGives

<div class="masa-blog-title">The Other Side of Purim: #MasaGives</div>

By Yehudit Werchow, Director of Education

 

 Jan Lievens' "The Feast of Esther" (Via Wiki Media Commons)

 

"וַיֹּאמֶר מָרְדֳּכַי לְהָשִׁיב אֶל אֶסְתֵּר אַל תְּדַמִּי בְנַפְשֵׁךְ לְהִמָּלֵט בֵּית הַמֶּלֶךְ מִכָּל הַיְּהוּדִים. כִּי אִם הַחֲרֵשׁ תַּחֲרִישִׁי בָּעֵת הַזֹּאת רֶוַח וְהַצָּלָה יַעֲמוֹד לַיְּהוּדִים מִמָּקוֹם אַחֵר וְאַתְּ וּבֵית אָבִיךְ תֹּאבֵדוּ וּמִי יוֹדֵעַ אִם לְעֵת כָּזֹא הִגַּעַתְּ לַמַּלְכוּת." (מגלית אסתר פרק ד)


“And Mordechai told the palace messenger: Tell Esther – don’t think about your own wellbeing at a time when the lives of all Jews are in the balance. Because if you are silent now, salvation will surely come to the Jews from another source anyway, and your legacy, and your father’s, will be lost to history. Who knows if this is the entire reason you were made Queen?” (the Scroll of Esther, Chapter 4)
 

In this excerpt from the Book of Esther, Mordechai, Jewish leader and a relative of the newly-chosen young queen, asks Esther to do something bold: Advocate for her hated People, even as she has kept her nationality to herself until this point.

 

Edwin Longsden Long's "Esther Haram" (Via Wiki Media Commons)

 

How many times have we found ourselves struggling, avoiding, or resisting action? At times it could be because we are not sure if we understand the motivation behind the action or its purpose, sometimes it’s because we feel that the call for action is external or that the timing is not ideal.


There are times when our resistance emerges from our fears of change, disapproval, insecurities (are we talented enough, strong enough, safe, resourceful) or from our fear of being successful, from letting our talent be present and seen.


Esther, just like many of us, is, before approaching the King on behalf of her People, which she had kept secret, facing her own moment of inner struggle and transformation. In her case, the call for action is coming from Mordechai. It seems that at first, she struggles with it. Perhaps it’s because of the scope of the act, the circumstances, which are understandably intimidating and obviously threatening.

 

Aert de Gelder's "Esther and Mordechai writing the second letter of Purim" (Via Wiki Media Commons)

 

Yet, she embraces the call and acts on it with courage and beauty, giving of herself, using her emotional intelligence for the greater good.


Calls for action don’t necessarily need to come from within, and this doesn’t mean that these are any less legitimate. It feels like Esther connected with her inner truth and motivations to act and these powerful sources empowered and liberated her from the paralyzing fears driving her to act so courageously and resourcefully, to come to a place of giving.


Purim and the Megilla are invitations to reunite our personal and collective deepest values, motivations and strengths. Invitations to give back to our family and friends, to Israel, our own communities and the Jewish people. Let’s embrace these invitations and grow with them. 


This Purim, join the Masa Israel community and show the world where you’re living and giving:

 


Download the sign here, write your city on the map and share your picture using #MasaGives.

 

 

Axel Angeles

Axel Angeles

Marketing and Communications Coordinator

Roxy Donay

Roxy Donay

Program Director

Israel Experiences & Post Programs

The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles

 RDonay@JewishLA.org