Ofer is the Director of Marketing & Sales of Masa Israel Journey. Ofer was born and raised in Tivon, a town in Northern Israel. During his army service, he served as a fighter on a battleship in the Israel Defense Forces. From 2004-2008, he was the Central Shaliach (emissary) of the World Zionist Organization in North America, working to bring Israel to the campuses across the continent and the campuses to Israel. When he finished his Shlichut Ofer joined Israel Way, an educational tourism company and was the Director of its long term & Masa programs department. Ofer was also a delegate to the 44th & 46th World Zionist Congress. He was a member of the extended executive board of the World Zionist Organization as well as a member of the Israeli board of the World Jewish Congress.
Ofer has an L.L.B. degree and he is an attorney. He has worked in the Israel Religious Action Center, a part of the Reform movement, dealing with civil rights in Israel and helping new Olim (immigrants) with legal issues. In the past, he was also the CEO of Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP) Community, a none profit organization who works with underprivileged communities in Israel, to change the social realty through many educational and social projects.
Sara Eisen joined the Masa Israel team as Chief Communications Officer in January 2015, after a four-year tenure as Head of Marketing Content at The Jewish Agency.
Before life in non-profit, she was an independent marcom and content consultant and copywriter, working with both established corporations and startups, which are still a passion of hers. She co-founded two startups, and has also worked as a journalist in the fields of hi-tech, lifestyle, and culture, and was a blogger (the-word-well.com) before everyone was a blogger.
A veteran olah ('93), Sara holds a degree in Psychology and English.
Tal is a biologist with a PhD in genetics from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. She has worked for Masa for three years, where she served for over two years as Chief of Staff. She took up her current position in 2016. She is also responsible for all data analysis within Masa.
She lives in Jerusalem with her husband and two children.
Naama came to Masa from the ESCO Social and Environmental Entrepreneurship Center, where she served as the manager of social business initiatives and investor relationships. Previously, Naama worked in the Hi Tech and Communications sectors. She and her family spent several years in California, where she initiated several educational projects; among them, the establishment of a Hebrew school for the children of Israeli expats. While in the US, Naama created fundraising events for Israel with the JNF. Upon her return to Israel, Naama worked as director of resource developnment both at a non-profit for at-risk families and at an art school for at-risk youth. Her tenure at ESCO followed, once she realized that her passions for both the business and non-profit sectors could be merged in the form of social entrepreneurship. She likes to run (half marathons), hike, read and cook vegan.
Originally from Migdal HaEmek in the North of Israel, Liran Avisar Ben-Horin joined Masa Israel Journey as CEO in 2013, where she manages the joint project of the Government of Israel and The Jewish Agency for Israel that provides young adults immersive, life-changing internships, service-learning opportunities, and study abroad programs in Israel.
Prior to her appointment as CEO, Liran served as Chief of Staff of the Director General of Israel’s Prime Minister’s reforms. From 2004 until 2010, Liran worked in the Office, leading a number of governmental and civic Movement, and then as Director of the North American Aliyah Department for The Jewish Agency for Israel. She began her career as a legal assistant to former Israeli Attorney General, Menachem Mazuz. Liran completed her service in the Israel Defense Forces as a Company Commander for the women’s field units officers’ course, reaching the rank of Lieutenant. She holds a BA in Business Administration from Tel Aviv University, an LL.B with Honors from the Faculty of Law at Tel Aviv University and an LL.M from New York University. Liran is an almuna of the prestgious Maoz Fellows program for social change-makers.
Liran resides in Tel Aviv with her husband, Itay, and her daughter, Eshkol. In her spare time, Liran studies Judaism at Kolot, a pluralistic Beit Midrash.
The experience you get when you live, learn and work in a foreign country gives your career and life endless opportunities. Here are five reasons to study and intern abroad next semester.
When you spend a semester both studying and interning you can apply the knowledge from class immediately to the work environment which, makes your newly attained skills come to life. You'll understand it's okay to make mistakes and fail and that this semester abroad is the perfect opportunity to do so.
Unlike in your home country, where you understand the social and cultural norms, when you’re abroad, the context is changed, and your skill set naturally expands. From this point, you better know how to listen to others, understand how to adapt yourself to any situation and communicate across multiple cultural barriers. It's at this moment that you automatically challenge yourself and your senses become sharper than ever.
When you intern and study abroad you can have a transformative experience in your choice of career fields and get a taste of different jobs and work environments. It’s entirely okay to say you don’t like one path and then seamlessly switch to another, before it’s too late. So, whether you want to go to med school or work for a tech startup, you’ll get a dose of the real thing here in Israel.
Whether you’re in class or at your internship, you have the chance to develop your international network. Your coworkers, classmates, and professors serve as a new platform for connecting you with professional opportunities, resources and personal development in the present and the future.
Oh, the real world. Soon enough the four glorious years of college will have to come to an end, and there’s no way to better prepare yourself than by spending a semester in a beautiful country where you’ll live, work and study on your own. It is here where you get to experience real independence. You’ll finish the semester wishing you didn’t have to leave and go back to your dorm. Graduation never looked better.
Written By Ruti Alfandry, Masa Israel's Director of Academic Programs
By Axel Angeles
When you think of Israel, many people only think of the beaches or religion, but seem to forget the diverse landscape. This tiny country offers more than many other countries in the world, and one thing that Israel has are amazing hikes!
Israel is truly a hiker’s paradise, from waterfalls and lush green mountains, to caves and salt mountains, and even canyons in the desert. What more can you ask for? Here are some of the top hikes you can do in Israel.
1. Nahal Jilabun
Photo credit: http://timeout.co.il/
Located in the Golan Heights (North), this is Israel’s second largest waterfall. This is one of the most beautiful hikes in Israel since it highlights the Jilabun waterfall and pools. It will take about 3 hours to complete with moderate effort, but is well worth it at the end. The best part, you can swim in the water right under the waterfall and even get a glimpse of the rainbow that reflects from the sun!
2. Nahal Amud
Located near Tzfat, this scenic hiking trail will keep you wanting more. It means “Pillar River” because the stream along the trail flows into the Sea of Galilee. It’s only 3 miles and at the end of the journey, many go into the pools!
3. Wadi Kelt
Photo Credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0b/Palestine,_Wadi_Qelt,_(Landscape_with_St._George's_Monastery)(10).jpg
One of the most popular destinations for tourists, this canyon trail, is often visited not only for the historic Greek monastery but also believe it or not, the natural pools. The best times to visit are on the weekends when everyone is together, and there is more life and other hikers on the trail.
4. Mount Sodom
Photo Credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/8a/Sodom_Salt_Cave_031712.JPG/220px-Sodom_Salt_Cave_031712.JPG
Located in the Dead Sea area, this mountain is literally made out of salt. It has some amazing caves and views! You will be impressed at the many rock formations that look like they are out of this world. This 5-mile stretch can take up most of your day as you will be gazing at one of the rarest rock formations in the world.
5. Ein Gedi Nature Reserve
Also located in the Dead Sea area, this famous water hike is by far the most popular hike in Israel. Get away from the heat of the Dead Sea and jump into a waterfall that will blow your mind. After about an hour of hiking, which is fairly easy, you will get to the famous Wadi David waterfall which is breathtaking and refreshing.
6. Nahal Og
Photo credit: http://www.israel21c.org/
This hike walks you through many white chalk canyons that look straight out of a movie. The walk is very easy as most of the way its flat. On the other hand, there is one challenge, the almost vertical descend. Not to worry, there are rungs in place to climb down and very sturdy in case you are wondering about safety. This trail is best started during the mid-day and should end before sunset as you can see the colors of the sky and contrast of the white canyons.
7. Nesher Park
Photo credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/77/Nesher,_Park_Nesher,_Wadi_Katia_079.JPG
Located in Haifa, this is a hidden treasure that many have no idea exists. This park includes two steel bridges that hang above the ground with magnificent panoramic views. You can come here all year round and experience this awesome location!
8. Amram’s Pillars/The Black Canyon
Photo by Brian Blum
This hike is located in the south area of Israel in the Eilat Mountains. This challenging path can be long but definitely worth the trek. You can see amazing rock formations and canyons you filled with black granite rock and limestone.
To learn more about Masa Israel and the programs we offer, click here.
5 Things to Know Before Teaching English in Israel">5 Things to Know Before Teaching English in Israel
1. Prepare to Pursue your Passions Speaking of passions, MITF is your chance to pursue (or even find) them! Yes, you’ll be teaching during the week, and you’ll be busy at school. But the day only spans from 8 am-2 pm in most cases. This means every day you can do something to fill your time outside of the classroom. Do you! Make some extra shekels by tutoring your neighbors in English, train for the Tel Aviv marathon, study Ulpan, start a blog, venture out of your city, or find a volunteer opportunity. I worked in one of Petah Tikva’s community gardens and joined the municipality’s Department of Environmental Education team. If you’re coming from University or a rigorous work environment, this ITF year is the biggest blessing you can give yourself… the time to focus on the things that effortlessly make you happy and what drives your passion.
2. Be Aggressive Moving to a new country is hard. It’s not only the verbal language that’s foreign; it’s the nonverbal—hand gestures and sounds are just as much a part of the Hebrew language as words. Miscommunications are inevitable, and the Israeli school system is guaranteed to be unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. Stereotypes are dangerous, and there’s always an exception to the rule, but for the most part, Israelis want things done their way. They tend to raise their voices, but it’s not because they’re yelling at you. They’re just excited and genuinely want to help you. When English isn’t the most efficient medium of communication (with teachers or students), you need to assume a different kind of leadership and find your voice in a creative way. Play the game Israeli style. Assert yourself and don’t be afraid to fight for what you want with persistence and by standing your ground, in the nicest way possible of course, and you’ll earn the respect you deserve.
3. בלגן: Balagan When translated, the word “balagan” comes to mean: mess, disorder, confusion, problems, difficulties. Mesh all of those together and you get the true meaning. Cut and paste this concept into an Israeli school and we’ve got a picture of utter chaos compared to what you’re probably used to. There are no lines when walking from class to class, sometimes not even a cafeteria, no hands are raised (just fingers), schedules are often meaningless, and all the teachers are called “the teacher” or by their first name. Discipline is not in these children’s vocabulary yet. And magically enough, the system works. However, it is your job to stay sane and adapt your teaching style to this new environment you’re in—step outside your comfort zone and create an English game, teach through pop culture, etc. Oh, and you’re about to become your school’s newest celebrity. Expect to be followed by mobs of screaming children, dying to ask if you’re friends with Justin Bieber or if you live in New York City or how much your Pandora bracelet costs. These kids will probably give you headaches, but they’ll also give you hugs and worship the ground you walk on.
4. Hebrew is on You! Okay, so you’re moving to Israel for a whole ten months and will be fully integrating into Israeli culture. You’re obviously going to come home fluent, right? Wrong. Your job is to be an English teacher, which means, no Hebrew in the classroom. You’ll have some Ulpan (Hebrew classes) to brush up your skills no matter what level you’re on, but it’s your job to maintain it. 99.9% of your Hebrew education is outside of Ulpan. Force yourself to communicate in Hebrew as much as possible—learn your vocabulary at the shuk, the mall, the bars, pretty much anywhere. Find a nice Israeli who wants to be your friend and practice your Hebrew on them and they’ll practice their English on you. There’s no osmosis that will magically make you fluent. Seek out opportunities and commit to the language if learning Hebrew is something you’re passionate about!
5. You’ll Fall in Love and Never Want to Leave Not only is this country going to be your new home, but you’re also going to have new friends, new family, a new community, and a new outlook on life. Even if you’re not coming from an educational background as a teacher, you’ll fall in love with your job and the energy was emanating from your students. Staff will be fighting over you to spend a Shabbat with their families, you’ll even get used to the Nescafé in the teacher’s room (which Israelis think replaces a real cup of coffee…it doesn’t). You’ll fall in love with your MITF cohort because they’ll have just been through this whole journey with you and will be the only ones who truly understand how you’re feeling.
Granted there are bound to be ups and downs, good days when you’ve successfully managed a conversation in Hebrew, and you feel like you can conquer the world, bad days when your bus is 20 minutes late, sad days when you’re missing home and the luxuries of dryers, peaceful days when you’re sitting on the beach watching the sunset with your year-long tan, and exciting days when you wake up and one in every 10 days is a holiday… The list goes on and on, but the most important thing you need to know before you become a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow is that the experience is what you choose to make of it, and the possibilities are all at your fingertips. You just need the chutzpah to grab them.
Written by Allison Paisner, Masa Israel Teaching Fellow Alumna