Masa Israel Alumni Gather for Leadership Training

Masa Israel Alumni Gather for Leadership Training

Masa Israel Alumni Gather for Leadership Training

August 15, 2013

This past weekend, 70 of the best and brightest "Masaniks" gathered for the first-ever national Masa Israel Alumni Retreat.
Current Masa Alumni Board members and recent returnees from Israel who participated in the Masa Israel Leadership Summit in March came together for the three-day shabbaton held at the Pearlstone Retreat Center in Maryland. The goal of the weekend was to promote the development of Masa Israel Alumni Associations and their boards in cities across North America, as well as to help the alumni cultivate their passion for Israel engagement and active participation in their local Jewish communities.
 
The retreat began with an opening address by Rabbi Scott Perlo of Washington, D.C.'s Sixth and I Synagogue. He set the tone for the weekend by prompting participants to ponder their place in the rich, millennia-spanning context of the Jewish story, and to think about how to get involved as they move forward in their own journey.
 
The retreat continued with enrichment sessions led by representatives from the World Zionist Organization, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Israel Action Network, Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, Shalom Hartman Institute, Hazon and Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life. These sessions provided participants with the opportunity to interact on a personal level, sharing the stories of their Israel exeriences while identifying practical channels through which to maintain their involvement in areas they found important during their time in Israel. 
"The social action discussions led by Hazon really got some ideas flowing. It's nice to connect to like-minded people," said Elise Yafet of Milwaukee, WI, who participated in Masa Israel Teaching Fellows in Netanya for the 2012-2013 school year. 
 
Over Saturday and Sunday, the alumni received practical leadership training from PresenTense, working in regional groups to develop a vision for their Alumni Board and improve upon community mapping and networking skills. 
 
"Having this outlet to re-engage and discuss renewed my interest and openness to further exploration of opportunities," said Jordan Winick, who participated in Tikkun Olam in Tel Aviv - Jaffa in 2011-2012. "This weekend introduced me to ways to increase my participation and engagement when I go back to Toronto, including the possibility of starting an Alumni Board." 
 
This retreat was particularly inspiring for Masa Israel alumni from smaller, less-developed communities. "Coming from such a small Jewish community, the passion I had for Israel was fizzling out after returning. This retreat is recharging my batteries so I can go back and revitalize my community," remarked Jordan Goldschmidt of Kansas City, KS, who served as a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow in Rehovot for 2012-2013 school year.  "The great thing about Masa is that it allows someone from 'Nowheresville,' USA, to have just as much involvement in the Jewish community as someone from New York City." 
 
With the establishment of peer-led Masa Alumni Associations to act as a springboard for recent returnees, we are confident that we will see Masa alumni deepen their involvement with a variety of Jewish organizations, and continue on their journeys toward a lifetime of leadership in the Jewish community that were inspired by their time in Israel. 
 

Meet & Greet the Miami Masa Alumni Comittee

Meet & Greet the Miami Masa Alumni Comittee

August 14, 2013 - 19:30  -  August 14, 2013 - 21:30

Aroma 150 Sunny Isles Boulevar North Miami Beach, FL  - 

Do you miss Israel, the friends you made in Israel, and the fun activities you took part in?. Miss them no more!
Hello Masa alumni and future Masa participants! We have created a Masa alumni committee to organize fun activities just for you. Wednesday the 14th of August we are having a Meet & Greet for you to get to know the awesome people in the Masa Alumni Committee and for you to tell us about your Israel experience and what you miss the most about it.
 
Gather your friends that did Masa or are interested in doing Masa and come out to Aroma on 163rd and we will treat you to a coffee. RSVP on Facebook.

Year studying in Israel fills in the 'gap'

Year studying in Israel fills in the 'gap'

Year studying in Israel fills in the 'gap'

August 1, 2013

Bu Sue Hoffman
 
For Rachel Kraus, a 2012 graduate of Solon High School and an alumna of The Agnon School in Beachwood, a gap year in Israel before starting college yielded substantial benefits.
“I definitely made the right choice,” said Kraus, who had deferred her start at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., to this fall. “One of the most important things I gained was independence. Being in Israel, you’re really on your own. I had to learn to do my own laundry. We shopped for food and took public transportation. I learned to cook and bake. I even had to go to the doctor by myself. “And I made so many friends -- friends who watch you grow as a person,” she said. “I now have places to stay all around the world.”
 
Kraus had traveled to Israel twice previously, the first time as an eighth-grader at Agnon, and again as a high school student through the Diller/Ambassadors of Unity student exchange program. “I fell in love with the people and the culture,” she said.
 
From September 2012 to June, Kraus lived in Israel through the Young Judaea Year Course, a gap-year program for recent high school graduates combining academic study, community living, volunteering and travel. “Our section was international,” said Kraus, who heard about the program from friends. The group included 30 Americans, 20 students from Great Britain and Scotland, three Israelis doing a service year, and a student each from Sweden and Belgium. Like the other Young Judaea sections, they lived in three locations during the nine months. Kraus’s section started in Jerusalem, where they resided in apartments on Young Judaea’s Beit Ar-El campus. Students concentrated on Hebrew and other studies and toured the city. Kraus’s second location was in Bat Yam, just south of Tel Aviv, where she volunteered in a kindergarten three mornings a week.
 
“I still took day trips once a week to different places in Israel and took a Zionism class as well.” For her final three months, she traveled to the place of her choice, Arad, in the south of Israel, where she volunteered at a day care four days a week.
Kraus, the daughter of Bonnie and Solon City Councilman Edward Kraus, who are members of Solon Chabad, said about her gap year, “I would totally recommend it to anyone. It is so worth it.”
 
Opportunities abound
Young Judaea Year Course is one of many gap year programs in Israel, according to I Connect and Masa Israel Journey regional coordinator Mirit Balkan at the Jewish Federation of Cleveland. Masa (Hebrew for “journey”) is an umbrella organization with more than 200 different programs that involve study, travel and volunteer work in Israel.
 
“Today, we see more and more kids in Cleveland going on a gap year,” said Balkan, an Israeli living in Shaker Heights. “In the last year, we had an increase of 20 percent in total Masa numbers,” she said, from 64 in 2011 to 76 in 2012. The students include high school graduates pursuing a gap-year program, college students studying abroad and college graduates seeking further study and internships.
 
“The gap year is a win-win,” Balkan said. “Students are having fun and relaxing, and they are more motivated to go to college. They also earn 12 to 15 college credits. Parents are happy because the experience strengthens their Jewish identity.”
 
Masa programs offer several different courses of study, from science and music, to cooking, dancing and fashion design. Depending on their interests, students can attend classes at the University of Tel Aviv and Hebrew University in Jerusalem, which were added to the list of the 100 best universities in the world in 2012, Balkan said. Other available institutions include the Technion in Haifa and the Weitzman Institute in Rehovot, “top leading institutions for science and research.”
 
I-Connect is a local effort of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland to provide “a continuum of meaningful Israel experiences” for young adults ages 18 to 30, Balkan said. Experiences start with Birthright and continue with Onward Israel summer internships and Masa programs.
 
Among Masa gap-year programs is Aardvark Israel, a program recently featured by The Jerusalem Post, which combines immersion into Israeli society with community service, internships, and educational programs, according to Helen Wolf, Israel programs director at The Jewish Education Center of Cleveland. JECC offers need-based scholarships for Masa programs. Wolf said the Jewish Federation of Cleveland realizes the importance of a gap year in Israel and helps with Masa funding.
 
Orthodox community
Of those students taking a gap year in Israel through Masa, 65 percent are graduates of Fuchs Mizrachi, a Modern Orthodox day school in Beachwood, Balkan said.
 
“Just about every student goes,” said Rabbi Avery Joel, who heads Mizrachi’s high school. “We view Fuchs Mizrachi as a five-year program with the fifth year in Israel. It’s the norm. Each year, we have a number of students stay a second year (in Israel). It’s a great opportunity for them to solidify their Jewish identity.”
 
“A year in Israel was amazing,” said 2012 Mizrachi graduate Leora Jaffe, who spent her gap year at Midreshet HaRova seminary in Jerusalem’s Old City. “By the end of the year, it surpassed all of my expectations. I learned so much inside and outside the classroom.”
 
In October, Jaffe, the daughter of Marlyn and Ari Jaffe of University Heights, said she will return to Israel to study at Bar Ilan University near Tel Aviv, where she will major in political science and minor in Jewish history.
 
Scores of students from Orthodox day schools Hebrew Academy of Cleveland and Mosdos Ohr Hatorah in Cleveland Heights are spending the year in Israel annually. Hebrew Academy has been sending its graduates to Israel since the 1950s.
 
Study abroad
In addition to those going to Israel for their gap year, local students are traveling to the country for post-college study. Neil Weeks, the son of Deidre and Tim Weeks of South Euclid, is completing his master’s degree in conflict resolution and mediation at Tel Aviv University.
 
“I’ve wanted to come to Israel since I was a teenager but did not find the opportunity with just the business of life,” said Weeks, who has a bachelor’s degree from Cleveland State University in international relations with a concentration in the Middle East. He said he had “a desire to connect with my people, to be part of the larger culture and community, and to walk the land of my forefathers.” He also wanted to see the holy sites and to gain a deeper understanding of Israel’s domestic and international struggles. Studying at Tel Aviv University allowed him to realize all of those goals, he said.
 
Highlights of his year ranged from experiencing an election season to participating in Yom Hazikaron (Day of Remembrance) and Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel Independence Day) in the country. “The spirit of community and the reality of feeling like I am at home is something that is not like any other place I have been in the world.”

Originally published in the Cleveland Jewish News. Photo credit: Rachel Kraus

Annie Lascoe

Annie Lascoe

West Coast Regional Director

Masa Israel Alumni North American Board Retreat

Masa Israel Alumni North American Board Retreat

August 9, 2013 (All day)  -  August 11, 2013 (All day)

  TBD, United States  - 

All Masa Alumni Board members are invited to attend the first annual Masa Alumni Board Retreat.
The retreat will focus on leadership development, programming techniques, and other skills alumni will need to engage fellow alumni in their area and run outstanding events! Details on Retreat location will be announced shortly. For more information or to start a Masa Alumni Board in your community, contact Dena Stein at denast@masaisrael.org.

3,000 Masa Israel Participants Gather for End-of-Year Conference

3,000 Masa Israel Participants Gather for End-of-Year Conference

3,000 Masa Israel Participants Gather for End-of-Year Conference

May 23, 2013

3,000 young Jews from around the world, participants in long-terms programs through Masa Israel Journey, attended the Masa Israel Journey Conference and End of 2012-2013 Academic Year Event at the Jerusalem International Convention Centre this past Monday.
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL: The Masa program participants were addressed by the Israeli Minister of the Economy, Naftali Bennett, and Chairman of Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel, Natan Sharansky. They also participated in a panel discussion with the outstanding Israeli sportsmen and women Ariel "Arik" Ze'evi, Karen Leibowitz, and Andi Ram. 
 
Olympic medalist, judoka Arik Ze'evi said, “After a year in Israel, you will be the best ambassadors for our country.”
 
Naftali Bennett, Minister of the Economy said: “I salute those of you who are planning on making Aliyah. We need every one of you. For those of you that are planning to return home, I am certain that after a year here, the State of Israel will remain close to your hearts and that you will continue to visit us.”
 
Natan Sharansky held an open dialogue with the students during which he told them: “Masa participants discover their roots while visiting Israel and they discover that the Jewish people is one family. It is very important to us that you feel part of our family and that you represent us upon your return home.”
 
Masa Israel Journey is a joint project of Government of Israel and The Jewish Agency for Israel. Its aim is to strengthen the connection between young Jews around the world and the State of Israel.  Participants spend 5-10 months in Israel and can choose from a wide range of programs involving volunteer work, studying or professional internships.  Over 10,000 young Jews from 60 countries participate in Masa programs each year. Upon their return to their home countries, many graduates become involved with their local Jewish communities and become ambassadors for Israel.
 
 

Be'eros Seminary

Program Description

 

Midreshet Torat Chessed

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Program Description

At Midreshet Torat Chessed, we believe in the power of a multi-faceted Year in Israel experience—and that an experience that combines serious Torah learning together with meaningful chessed can be life altering, as each aspect mutually enhances the other. 
Throughout their year, our students will dedicate their time towards strengthening their connection to the three major pillars of Jewish life- Torat Yisrael, Am Yisrael, and Eretz Yisrael. Bet Elazraki has developed a reputation around the world as being one of the most professional, successful, and thriving homes for at risk children in the country. It is an institution with unparalleled warmth and energy.
 
The participants of Midreshet Torat Chessed will have the singular opportunity to experience, and to help create, this warmth. They will be a part of The home- and integrate into the home. They will spend their afternoons with the children, as well as many Shabbatot and Chagim. They will live near the children and eat their meals with the children. Through this, they will be- come an integral part of the Bet Elazraki team.They will join 40 Israeli girls their age who are completing Sheirut Leumi (national service) at the home, which will give them the unique opportunity to befriend peers from Israel, and gain a singular understanding of Israeli society and culture.
 
In addition, the warmth and energy that permeates Bet Elazraki will define all aspects of our Midrasha as well. Midreshet Torat Chessed will be a place of warmth and meaning. It will be a place where girls will be encouraged to grow, but in their own way and at their own pace. Our excellent staff, classes, and programming will be geared towards creating a year of meaningful self reflection – all in the context of one of Israel’s most dynamic and exceptional institutions.

Highlights

- Combine half a day of Torah study with half a day of meaningful volunteer work with underprivileged children at a world renowned Children's home.
- Learn the unique power of giving on a daily basis.
- Work hand in hand with 50 Israeli Sheirut Leumi girls.
- Gain unique insight into Israeli society and culture by being a part of an Israeli Children's Home.
- Strengthen your connection to Am Yisrael, Torat Yisrael, and Eretz Yisrael every single day!
 

Yeshivat Migdal HaTorah

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Program Description

Migdal will inspire our students with a desire to learn and become more knowledgeable in Torah as well empower them with the skills in order to do so. We ensure that our students leave the yeshiva with the tools they need for lifelong independent study in all areas of Torah scholarship. At Migdal, shiurim are not lectures, but are rather tailored learning experiences where questions and dialogue are encouraged. There is also great emphasis on chavruta style learning and allowing students to work through the entire spectrum of Jewish texts on their own under the guidance of their rebbeim.
 
Our goal at Migdal is to provide the best possible role models for our students. Along with a dedicated full-time faculty, many of our rebbeim maintain jobs in the secular world and lead by example on how one is to live as a Torah Jew in today's society. A primary component of the curriculum at Migdal is dedicated to examining the many issues that confront a person in the modern world from both a halachic and philosophic perspective.
 

Seminaire Orthodoxe Francophone - Beera Chel Myriam

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Program Description

This program is conducted in French.
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