A week in the life of Masa Israel Participant: Yari Rostamian

<div class="masa-blog-title">A week in the life of Masa Israel Participant: Yari Rostamian </div>

Yari Rostamian, Masa Business Fellow and Destination Israel Intern

 

Day 1: Prepping for the young professionals white night with this lovely group of people! Toured the ZOA house then talked business over delicious Roladin burekas, pastries and coffee. 

 

 

Day 2: Had a fluffy visitor come into the AOL Nautilus office on Rothschild. Molly kept me company as I growth hacked for the startup I intern for.

 

 

Day 3: My friends and I went out for a beautiful Saturday morning stroll where we learned about Malabi, a popular dairy dessert in the middle east. We went to “Hamalabia” and had a cup full of goodness!

 

 

Day 4: I have quite the sweet tooth and Tel Aviv really accommodates. We took a quick dessert break to enjoy yummy ice cream and the beautiful weather. 

 

Day 5: Even though I applied to intern in the marketing department, our startup really supports us to explore other aspects of a business. Our software developer gave us a lesson on coding a website! That’s the great thing about working in a startup, you get to wear many hats during a work day.

 

 

Day 6: Only a few steps away from the building I work in is Independence Hall. This is where Jewish independence was declared in 1948. 

 

 

Day 7: Today ends where I show you a week in the life of a Masa participant and ends on a big night; The Masa Young Professionals White Night Tel Aviv. The Masa Business Fellows worked hard to make it a night of professional growth.  Cheers to the companies who led sessions, the Masa Israel staff and the fellows! We did it!

 

 

To learn more about Destination Israel Click Here. 

 

Why I Left My Life in Canada Behind and Moved to Start-up Nation

<div class="masa-blog-title">Why I Left My Life in Canada Behind and Moved to Start-up Nation</div>

By Marsha Druker, Career Israel

If as early as 6 months ago someone looked into a crystal ball and told me that in January I would quit my job and move to Israel for an unpaid internship at a tech start-up, I probably would have burst out laughing. ‘That’s completely insane’, I would have told them. Yet, here I am, across the world, writing this from a tiny studio apartment in the vibrant center of Tel Aviv. When life gets predictable, it’s time for a plot twist.
 
An outsider looking into my life before this twist would think that everything was just peachy. I was climbing the corporate ladder, traveling to exciting places, and overall, leading a fun and busy life, surrounded by close friends and family. It was the kind of life that I envisioned for myself and worked incredibly hard for – so the fact that I was not content was just as much of a surprise to me as it was to someone looking in from the outside.
 
The truth is, I was craving a change of scenery. And I knew myself well enough to realize that a new job, a short trip, or even a new condo in downtown Toronto wouldn’t be enough (or at least not for long). No, I needed a drastic change. Something that would take me completely out of my comfort zone and challenge me in every possible way.
 
Why now, why Israel?
 
I found a Masa program called Career Israel that let me pursue several lifelong goals all at once: living abroad, furthering my career, and exploring my roots and identity. What drove me to action was the realization that the longer I put an opportunity like this off, the less likely I would be to go through with it. Being in my mid-20′s and unattached, it was a case of ‘now or never’.
 
Through this program, I’ll spend 5 months living like a local in Tel Aviv, working during the week, and exploring Israel on the weekends. A lot of people would look to Europe for this kind of adventure, but for me, Israel made more sense.
 
Here’s why:
 
1) An opportunity to work in “Start-up Nation”
 
I’ve been intrigued by tech start-ups for a long time now. I love the pace of innovation, culture, and exhilaration of being on the ground floor of a company that could potentially be the ‘next big thing’.
 
Israel, and more specifically, Tel Aviv, is famous for its dynamic tech start-up scene. The country has been called the “start-up nation” for years and, today, only Silicon Valley rivals it in number of start-ups per capita. With major companies such as Waze, Wix, Houzz, Payoneer, Fiverr, and Viber making their debut here and countless incubators and accelerators, Tel Aviv is an exciting place to be if, like me, you’re passionate about the start-up world.
 
I’m working at Veed.me, a platform that connects people who need a video with professional videographers from around the world. The platform manages the selection process from a vetted list of incredibly talented videographers, project management flow, and payments. Veed.me has been around for less than three years and already has some amazing clients like Google, Waze, Duracell and others. It’s also on the Forbes list of 16 Israeli Startups Ready To Take On 2016.
 
Having just launched a re-designed interface, Veed.me is at a very exciting time in their journey. My role includes messaging and content creation, PR outreach, and marketing strategy. I’m learning the product and customer experience inside out, and in true startup fashion, wearing a lot of hats and contributing to all areas of the company, not just my specialty.
 
2) An opportunity to strengthen my Jewish identity and ties to Israel
 
Being Jewish was never a big part of my identity. I was born in the former Soviet Union (a place where anti-Semitism was rampant and practicing the religion was not only hard, but dangerous), and after immigrating to Canada when I was eight years old, I spent the better part of my life living in Woodbridge, a predominantly Italian suburb of Toronto.
 
Six years ago, I had my first encounter with Israel. Like most Jewish twenty-somethings, I went on Birthright. I remember many people from my group had a visceral reaction as they stepped off the plane into Israel – they were home. Me? I felt nothing out of the ordinary. I had other things on my mind: Would my new boyfriend lose interest while I was away? Am I safe here? Where’s the best place to party? Wait, do Israelis actually eat salad for breakfast?!
 
Don’t get me wrong – I thought Israel was a beautiful country and had a fantastic time during the free ten day trip, but it was just a vacation in my eyes (highlights of Birthright include floating in the Dead Sea, riding a camel through the Bedouin desert, and rafting through the Jordan River). I tuned a lot of the ‘boring’ historical and political information out. At the end of the trip, I thought I saw everything I needed to see here and had no desire to return. How very childish of me. I’m older (and hopefully wiser) this time around, and I’m here on my own dime. My mind is open, I’m present, and I won’t be missing any learning opportunities. I can’t afford to.
 
I think it’s important to clarify that it’s not a religious experience that I’m after here. Rather, my objective is to gain a better understanding and to develop a more educated opinion on the state of Israel, learn about the history and culture of my people, and pick up the basics of the Hebrew language. Ultimately, I feel this experience will enable me to better relate to Israeli and diaspora Jews from all walks of life.
 
3) The important life experience of living abroad and adapting to a new environment
 
Living abroad takes you out of your trance. It wakes you up. It makes you pay attention to every little detail of what is happening to you and how it’s making you feel, think, and act. Your world is suddenly different and you have to adapt.
 
With its dust storms, sirens, and (sometimes) brash people, Israel is a very unique place to live as a foreigner. Here, I use a Dood and squeegee the floor when I shower, bargain at the Shuk for groceries, attempt to use Hebrew phrases, and constantly get lost (and found). Coming in to this not knowing a single letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Ulpan was no walk in the park, grocery shopping can be perplexing, and if it weren’t for the beautiful miracle of Moovit, I’d probably always miss my bus stops.
 
Through my program arrangements, I’m very fortunate to live right in the center of Tel Aviv. I have great transportation, all the top bars and restaurants, and the beach right at my doorstep. With the great location though, there is a trade-off: the living arrangements are dorm style and very basic, to say the least. To give you an example, the other day, I boiled eggs on a hot plate on the floor. It’s not a glamorous life, but I love it. Every day I’m learning what I’m capable of and I know that I’ll emerge as a stronger person at the end of my experience.
 
4) New friends and personal development
 
After university, it’s not easy to make new close friends. Lucky for me, I am here with 42 other young professionals from nine different countries and all walks of life. It’s a privilege to meet so many great new people and develop friendships with like-minded individuals from all over the world. New friends who I’m sure I’ll stay in touch with years after the program ends. But, since I’m being completely honest here, constantly being with a big group is actually quite intimidating for me. While it’s very reassuring to be in a new place with a big support system and others in the same situation, I’d be a lot more comfortable if I were here on my own or with a couple close friends.
 
Let me explain. I’m an introvert and my voice tends to get lost among big groups of people. It’s something that I’m very self-conscious of, and unfortunately, not something I can easily change. The good news is that I feel like I’ve made a lot of progress over the years by actively putting myself into these types of situations.
 
I’ve actually come to enjoy icebreakers (they used to terrify me), know my way around a networking event, and feel good about my participation here so far (believe it or not, I even karaoke-ed!).
 
5) Much needed time to reflect and explore
 
As part of my program, I am required to work less hours than I’m normally used to. More free time means an opportunity to reflect, spend extra time on my hobbies, and explore new places and interests. I also purposely didn’t bring a lot of stuff and don’t plan on buying anything but the bare necessities for my apartment. Having minimal belongings will help me de-clutter my thoughts and focus on what’s important. 
 
My favorite thing about the area I live in is that it’s less than a fifteen-minute walk to the beach – my happy place. By the water is where I feel most at peace, grounded, grateful, and alive. So, it’s no wonder that almost every evening I practically skip down Bograshov street to the beach to sit quietly and watch the sunset in awe.
 
 
 
Follow Marsha's journey on her blog marshadruker.com.

 

 

A First Look At Israel Lacrosse

<div class="masa-blog-title">A First Look At Israel Lacrosse</div>

By Glen Tobin

 

Being part of the Masa Israel Lacrosse internship has really opened my mind to building a sports program from the bottom up. Lacrosse is very popular in Ashkelon and Netanya, but the goal of the Israel Lacrosse is to continue to grow. One of the newest cities to open its doors to lacrosse is Kiryat Gat. The city is small but full of energetic youth and athletic complexes. The sports community as a whole believes in the benefits of keeping kids active in a safe, team-building atmosphere. When lacrosse was presented to the mayor and his cabinet, they were extremely positive and welcoming. Since the very start, there has been a lot of public support for the sport and the organization as a whole.

 

 

Setting up demonstrations at four of the city’s high schools, has presented extremely positive results in furthering the growth and positivity the sport brings. We practice in a variety of settings, which are all extremely open to the public (one soccer stadium, one synthetic field, and one park across from a busy street and mall). When people see this foreign activity they gravitate to it. Conversations always start, “what is this?” Recently there has been a shift in who explains what the sport is. First it was us, the coaches, who would explain how to play, but now the kids jump right in and speak of the fast, physical, fun nature of the sport. One can see the passion and excitement in their eyes as they hand off their stick to another kid or adult. This is especially evident when we have practice and a new player shows up. Everyone is a new player because of the short time we have been in Kiryat Gat, but those that know how to cradle, catch and throw will instantly offer advice and help the new player along. As a coach, and someone very passionate about the sport, it is extremely rewarding to see.


Aside from the rewarding nature of coaching the next generation of lacrosse players, this Masa Israel internship has taught me a lot of about logistics and all of the little things that go into planning to start a sport in a new city. Being the “new kid on the block,” we have to share space and practice times with the existent powerhouse - soccer. This can be frustrating because the times are late, or right after school, which gives the players little time to get to the field, or we have to delay practice because a soccer game runs late. All of these are the challenges we face but when looked at positively, are necessary obstacles that teach us how to communicate and relay what we need. The field managers see our hard efforts and see the joy on the kids’ faces. When we all realize why we are here teaching, it makes the small logistical problems disappear.

 



Another logistical issue we tackle on a daily basis is how to provide all these kids with protective equipment. Lacrosse is a physical sport, and requires a lot of protective gear. When every player needs a helmet, chest pads, elbow pads, and gloves this becomes a logistical issue. How do we get these pads from point A to point B? Fortunately we have a car that allows us to transport some of this stuff. But we have to pack the car early, get to the field early, fit kids with the equipment based on their size, and make necessary adjustments.

 

 

Additionally, a lot of forethought goes into running a practice on any given day. From this I have learned to be diligent and punctual. Another major challenge is to expect the same from the Israeli youth. In the laid back Israel atmosphere, many people take their time and show up five or ten minutes late. We have attempted to make this a priority with the kids we teach. In the world, when work starts at a certain time, it is expected a person show up early to get set up. When there is a professional game in any sport, it is expected that players warm up before the game not after it starts. This is another challenge, but allows us to instill positive, useable work ethics.

 

Now that lacrosse has been in the city for a few months, it is interesting how it has changed and how the perception of the sport has been almost fully integrated. We have had a few different youth matches in public areas and without promotion, they have gathered fans and interested bystanders. Speaking for myself and the players, it has been really fun to see it all come together when the game starts. To have people cheer you on, in a new foreign sport, not knowing the rules but witnessing the physical efforts, makes one feel really good inside. It makes me very proud as a coach and mentor for these kids to see their hard work, and smiles and to know that lacrosse is in Kiryat Gat for good!

 

Masa Israeli: The journey into yourself

<div class="masa-blog-title">Masa Israeli: The journey into yourself</div>

By Jane Mustova, PMP Nativ Technion
 
A considerable number of people believe that those who wander are lost, however I believe that it is through traveling that you discover your true self.  With that being said, I believe that the main goal of Masa Israeli is to help each of us realize what we really want and where we stand in life.
 
“Sometimes, reaching out and taking someone’s hand is the beginning of a journey. At other times, it is allowing another to take yours.”- Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration
 
Throughout our Masa Israeli journey, we hiked along Jerusalem hills, trekked through the desert, strolled along the ancient streets of the Old City, built at the times of King David. We visited the place where David conquered Goliath, walked the streets of Tel Aviv and even spent Shabbat in Jerusalem. And each day, as we were discussing questions such as “Why are we here?” and “What does Judaism means for each of us?”, we started noticing how much do we actually have in common. Aside from the obvious fact that we all came from the FSU, we found that we shared much more: family history, interests, traditions, and beliefs. It was incredible to feel how over the course of a few days we went from being acquaintances to feeling like family.
 
One of the highlights of the trip was the night in the desert. Sitting around the fire, looking at the stars, we felt like characters of the Lion King movie, thinking how “the great kings of past look down on us” and although we have all been running away from our past, and our history, it is the time to learn from it.
 
While in Tel Aviv we attended a solo theatrical performance “Apples”, based on the story by Dina Rubina, and directed by Nadezhda Greenberg. The play tells the story of a typical Jewish family, whose history went through the devastating years of Second World War and the holocaust. This story raises the question of memory, which is universal to all of us, regardless of where we came from. When I was standing next to the Kotel in Jerusalem, I thought about my own family, particularly about my great-grandmother, who came to Jerusalem as a pilgrim, over a hundred years ago. Throughout history, there were people who were coming here, regardless of the politics, wars, and struggles. These people built the foundation on which the Israeli society stands todaya nation connected through language, culture, and the history of Jewish people.
 
In our fast-paced environment, full of hi-tech developments and scientific achievements, it is necessary to take a step back once in a while and think of the important things in life. This is what programs such as Masa Israeli are made for.
 
Masa Israeli is a beautiful journey, which leads you to your roots, gives you the opportunity to walk the paths of your ancestors, re-think why you are here and what your next step in life is. It is the chance to experience the individuality of each person, and at the same time, to feel as a part of something greater. All this is possible to due to the tremendous work of the talented guides and madrichim, as well, as the personal contribution of each participant.
 
Thanks to all of you! It was spectacular!
 
 
 

Haifa University - MA in Archaeology with focus on Prehistoric Archaeology

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Program Description

Both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a biosphere reserve, the Mount Carmel area reveals a nearly 500,000 year-long sequence of human evolution exposed in caves, rock shelters and open-air sites along mountain valleys and the nearby coastal plain. Unlike any other region in the world, Mount Carmel’s key sites, such as the Tabun and Skhul caves, preserve evidence of both modern human and Neanderthal populations, at sites less than 100 meters from each other. As such, situated atop the Carmel Mountain, Haifa University provides students with an ideal setting for the study of Prehistoric Archaeology and an invaluable opportunity to take part in field research all over Israel’s historic landscape.

Upon completion of the program, students will be awarded a Master of Arts in Archaeology from the Faculty of Humanities and the Department of Archaeology.
 

Highlights

The program focuses on the prehistory and paleoenvironment of the Mount Carmel region and each student can choose to specialize in one of many relevant topics, such as lithic, faunal, geological and palynological studies. Students will benefit from a rich variety of courses focusing on prehistoric studies, as well as from a range of additional key topics including environmental archaeology; archaeological theory and method; and archaeology of the Southern Levant. The one-year program is taught in English over three consecutive semesters from October until September.

Students wishing to pursue the thesis track will need to submit a research thesis within one year of completing their coursework and may require remaining at the university for an additional one or two semesters.
 

 

Israel Way: Hebrew Ulpan Etzion Jerusalem

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Program Description

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.

 

 
 

Video Premiere

Program Description

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.