What about Shabbat? 8 Ways to 'Live it Up' on Saturdays in Jerusalem

<div class="masa-blog-title">What about Shabbat? 8 Ways to 'Live it Up' on Saturdays in Jerusalem </div>

By: Andria Kaplan Aylyarov


The common thought is that a cloud of stillness hangs over Jerusalem from Friday night until Saturday night but if you dig deep you’ll see pockets of the city remain vibrant.

Here are 8 ways to ‘Live it Up’ on Saturday  in Jerusalem:


1. Cafes

Wake up and grab brunch. You know you want too! These cafes are surely open and waiting for you to arrive with sunglasses on and bedhead. Here are a few suggestions:




Bet Haqawe





2. Take a Walk

Burn off your brunch by taking a stroll in these fabulous parks and ancient paths:

The Ramparts Walk and get a high perspective of the ancient walls.

Jerusalem Botanical Gardens


Train Track Park


3. Go on a Free Tour

Take the opportunity to learn the secret of your new home from a local. The Jerusalem municipality offers great free walking tours of numerous Jerusalem neighborhoods.


4. Grab a Drink

Drink at the Link. Visit the bar that’s in a 100-year-old building with an extensive beer and wine list. You’ll be able to enjoy a green landscape and great company.

If you prefer the hipster route then boogie down to old records at HaTaklit. The vibe is good and the drinks and better. It’s also uber affordable.


5. See a Concert

Ruach Chadasha offers free concert most Saturdays of the month for young adults that are free or by donation. The website is in Hebrew but you can translate it or message them for info.


6. Get Dessert

Visit the Ein Karem neighborhood and grab treats from Sweet N’Karem chocolate shop. There are also artisan workshops and historic churches nearby!


7. Visit the Zoo

Grab your friends and see what Noah’s Ark was really about. Take a day trip to the Biblical Zoo.



8. Get Nerdy

Embrace the past and present by touring the Israel Museum and Rockefeller Archeological Museum. If you’re into science the head over to the Bloomfield Science Museum.


Andria is a Masa Israel Alumna and content marketing specialist for Masa Israel Journey. She loves a good glass of white wine and wishes she was 85-years-old and living in Boca, but she currently resides in Brooklyn.


This one time on my Masa Israel program…

<div class="masa-blog-title">This one time on my Masa Israel program…</div>

Video: Cash Cab episode recently  re-aired on Mako


Sometimes living in Israel I encounter things that really jog my memory. Every colorful scene, aromatic walk through the streets, or even just surfing my social media feeds (Thank you #ThrowBackThursday!) reminds me of a good time from my Masa Israel experience. 


That is what happened this morning. I opened my Facebook feed to see a suggested video from Mako, a popular Israeli television station. The video was an episode of Cash Cab—in this game show meets transportation service participants have the chance to win money by answering trivia questions on the ride to their destination. I love to test my trivia knowledge, so I pressed play only to see four familiar faces. There they were -- David (Los Angeles), Thalia (Argentina), Dov (France), and Grant (Texas) — friends of mine from my time as a Masa participant on Destination Israel’s Tel Aviv Internship Experience.




In the episode they tell the cab driver to take them to beachside club, Clara, and that was the ticket to this trip down memory lane. Clara? Yea, I remember that night! Our whole program was there for a party. When you’re on the program these people become your family so going out to something together was a common occurrence. We were all waiting in line for various groups of us to arrive (you can’t fit 30 people in one cab) when the four of them walk up with huge smiles on their faces, yelling and laughing with excitement.


“What’s up guys? What took you so long?”


“We just won 4,500 shekel! We were on Israeli Cash Cab!”


Needless to say, this was a good omen for the night. We had a great time dancing the night away with the sea breeze keeping things cool; a nice break from working hard at our internships. And of course, we made memories to last us a lifetime.


Written by Amy Albertson


The Jewish Chronicle: Community Jew'colades

The Jewish Chronicle: Community Jew'colades

The Jewish Chronicle: Community Jew'colades

July 21, 2016

Masa Israel Journey's new Director of Partnerhips in the United States, Jessica Schapiro was featured in her hometown's Jewish newspaper!

eJewish Philanthropy: Israel Premier Sports League Number One Goal: Give Back

eJewish Philanthropy: Israel Premier Sports League Number One Goal: Give Back

eJewish Philanthropy: Israel Premier Sports League Number One Goal: Give Back

July 20, 2016

By David Lasday

This season the IPLL is a pilot Masa summer program. Thanks to Masa, players receive Hebrew lessons, travel, and a full Israel experience. The IPLL schedule includes two practices, one conditioning training, and two games each week. Outside of these activities each player is required to volunteer 20+ hours in the community helping grow the game of lacrosse. In conjunction with the local community centers, IPLL players run lacrosse camps as well as visit camps around their city holding introductory lacrosse clinics. According to Shlomi Numa, Head of Education and Community in Beer Sheva, “What a special experience for the kids. Imagine as a kid, Premier sports players coming to your camp and giving you private lessons. The kids are blown away. We have sent players to 40 camps around the city.” Commissioner of the IPLL Ted Bergman explains, “This is a win win win. The program gives players the opportunity to learn and connect to the city that they play for, while building a fanbase and the next generation of lacrosse players. At the same time this also provides Israeli youth in the cities that we work in a sports experience they will never forget.”


Click here to read the full article.

It's That Time of Year Again: Shalom U'Lehitraot

<div class="masa-blog-title">It's That Time of Year Again: Shalom U'Lehitraot</div>

Masa Israel Journey and its alumni across the United States are holding their biannual Shalom U’Lehitraot (Hello and Goodbye) Parties in August.


As recent returnees say hello, they can expect a warm welcome into a local network of Jewish young adults, united by their shared Masa Israel experiences. Alumni will be happy to share their advice for successful transition back into life stateside.


While future participants say goodbye before heading to Israel, they will have the opportunity to answer all of their last minute questions and get the local scoop from Masa Israel alumni who lived it like a local before them.


Meanwhile, veteran Masa alumni will reunite to catch up, reminisce about Israel and find out about the exciting local and national opportunities that the Masa Israel alumni network has in store for the coming year.


Find a party near you"


Twin Cities - Thursday, August 18

New York - Sunday, August 21

Washington DC - Thursday, August 25

Lost Angeles - TBD


Want to host a Shalom U'Lehitraot party in your city?

Email RachelM@MasaIsrael.org to get the party started.




Meet the U.S. Regionals

<div class="masa-blog-title">Meet the U.S. Regionals</div>

Masa Israel's Regionals Managers and Representatives are the face of Masa in their communities. Whether advising local young people on program options, building partnerships with local organizations or helping alumni plan events, they are one-stop shops from anything and everything Masa:


alt="Jacob Allen"

Jacob Allen


Detroit, MI


Jacob is the Israel & Overseas Associate at the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit. His portfolio includes scholarships, the Israeli Camper Program, Partnership2Gether with the Central Galilee Region and, or course, recruiting for Masa.


Born and raised in the Detroit metropolitan area, Jacob holds a B.A. in International Studies with a concentration in Comparative Culture and Identity, and Hebrew and Judaic Cultural Studies from the University of Michigan. He is passionate about enhancing the relationships between Israel and the Metro Detroit Jewish community.


alt="Mirit Balkan"

Mirit Balkan


Cleveland, OH


Mirit is the I-connect Manager at the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, connecting local young adults to Israel programs, like Masa. Since January 2011, Mirit has established herself as the "to go" person for local community members looking for long term Israel experiences. Working with Jewish educators, Israel Fellows on campus, students and their parents are just part of her portfolio.


Born and raised in Israel, Mirit served as a sharp shooter sniper in the IDF. She holds an MA in Interdisciplinary Democracy and a certificate in Peace Building and Conflict Studies. Before moving to Cleveland, Mirit worked at Walt Disney World, The Gilo Center for Citizenship, Democracy and Civic Education at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the Yithak Rabin Center in Tel Aviv. Mirit and her husband Yaron have three children Aya, 3; Romi, 8; and Ori, 10.




alt="Ariel Biel"

Ariel Biel


Minneapolis, MN

Ariel is a Program Specialist in the Israel Center of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation, assisting 18-30 year olds on finding the right Israel program, to have transformational experiences in Israel- studying, interning, and/or volunteering.


While earning a B.A. in Child Psychology, with a minor in Hebrew, from the University of Minnesota, Ariel served as a Community Advisor, a Hebrew teaching assistant. and an Ambassador for Hillel. Her passion for being in Israel was kindled by her first visit, on Birthright. After graduation, Ariel participated in the pilot year of Masa Israel Teaching Fellows, teaching English to elementary school children and volunteering with at-risk junior high and high school students at an agricultural boarding school in Rishon LeZion. She returned to Minnesota where she worked as a Jewish educator and helped start the Twin Cities Masa Israel Alumni Group.


alt="Roxanna Donay"

Roxanna Donay


Los Angeles, CA


Roxanna (though everyone calls her Roxy) is the Program Director for Israel Experiences & Post-Programs at the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.


Born and raised in sunny southern California. Roxy caught the travel bug after her first trip to Israel as a teenager and has been collecting stamps on her passport ever since. After her gap year on the Nativ College Leadership Program in Israel, Roxy went on to study Psychology and Human Development at the University of California, Davis. Since graduating she has spent many years working and volunteering for various Jewish organizations such as Hillel, Camp Ramah, United Synagogue Youth, and the Builders of Jewish Education. She is passionate about Israel and helping people find the right Israel experience for them.





alt="Guy Lowicz"

Guy Lowicz


New York, NY

Guy is the regional representative for Masa in the New York metropolitan area. He came to Masa after interning for Hillel because he saw the work at Masa as his way of representing his country, Israel.


Born and raised in Israel, after completing his IDF service, Guy left Israel and started jumping around the globe. After backpacking in South America, working in aviation security in Hong Kong, and studying International Affairs at The George Washingtong University, he settled in New York to start recruiting for Masa. Before working at Masa, Guy bartended for 12 years, on 3 different continents. Although he has traveled to more than 15 countries, now he can barely stand taking the NYC subway.


alt="Marisa Ouchowski"

Marisa Obuchowski


Baltimore, MD


Marisa is the Israel and Overseas Engagement Associate at The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, where she is very excited to engage local young adults and connect them with Israel and overseas opportunities. 


She holds a BFA in Graphic Design and Computer Imaging from Ohio Wesleyan University. After college, Marisa traveled on Birthright where she fell in love with the sites, people, and culture of Israel, and three weeks later she returned to Israel with WUJS Tel Aviv, program of MasaAfter returning to Baltimore, she worked as a graphic designer and marketing manager for a Jewish day school and as a part-time swim coach at the local JCC. As an alumna of Birthright and Masa, she understands the meaningful impact of peer-travel and immersive Israel programs and looks forward to providing others with the same transformative experiences.




J-Wire: Dream job for Oliver

J-Wire: Dream job for Oliver

J-Wire: Dream job for Oliver

July 1, 2016

By Hayley Hadassin


A graduate of Melbourne’s Bialik College has landed a dream job in New York as Product Manager at LifeBEAM, an Israeli Start Up company taking the athletic and Artificial Intelligence market by storm.

Oliver Rose recently completed his Bio Medical Engineering degree and needed industry experience to make it in the competitive job market. He decided to take a break from his studies and apply for a Masa Israel Internship through the Zionist Federation of Australia’s Israel Program Department.


Masa Israel Journey offers young Jewish adults between the ages of 18 and 30 a range of 5-10 month Israel experiences including life-changing gap year, study abroad and volunteer programs as well as professional internships in all field and industries. Masa Israel also offers very generous grants and scholarships for eligible applicants. Oliver, an engineering student decided a Masa internship at an Israeli start-up would be a great opportunity to gain hands on learning experience. ‘“I wanted work experience where I would not be repeating the same task over and over. I wanted to prove my creativity, learn about starting and growing a business, and to make a lasting impact. Israel’s start-up culture was the perfect opportunity.”
Oliver selected to intern at LifeBEAM – a leader in bio tech and bio wearing technology. Oliver was thrown into the day-to-day operation of the business, integrating himself into the company and was tasked with researching relationships between LifeBEAM sensors and body functions, designing trials in the nearby Olympic Centre and developing the user experience. He also acted in a support role for the Chief Operations Officer, helping to re-design the company’s website, analyse website traffic, manage customer support, and oversee product deliveries. Over the 6-month internship he gained invaluable experience from leading start-up minds and was mentored by his bosses and colleagues.


“Israel is a hub of social, commercial and technological innovation offering exciting internship opportunities that are simply not available at comparative companies and organisations in Australia” says ZFA Israel Program Coordinator Sarit Braver. ‘Masa Israel internships provide young Jewish adults the opportunity to live in Israel like a local and gain professional experience in their field. Israel has so much to offer in terms of business development, growth and industry advancements and these companies and organisations are eager to recruit interns from around the world. With Masa Israel being a project of the Israeli Government and Jewish Agency it has the connections and network to offer impressive internship placements at some of the country most impressive companies such as Teva Pharmaceuticals, Jerusalem Post and even Google”


The benefits of a Masa Israel internship are not only the work experience opportunities but the social ones as well. “I made friends for life, learned to live independently, and grew up emotionally. Masa added tremendous value to the internship program, by providing enjoyable educational and cultural activities, including weekend tours around Israel, during which our group of 40 grew very close. I made friends from all over the world and will never forget swimming in the desert oasis at Ein Gedi, or rafting down the Jordan River.” said Rose.
“These Israel-based internship programs are a fantastic, but untapped resource for the Jewish community. They provide valuable experience in a country that has the leading edge in so many fields. The 6 months I spent living and working in Israel was one of the happiest and most successful times of my life.”


Upon returning to Melbourne to complete his Biomedical Engineering Degree at Melbourne University, Oliver was offered to a job with LifeBEAM. He has watched and been a part of the company’s growth from its early stages. His move to New York will see him take up a full-time position as Product Manager, working directly with the CEO on their latest product, Vi, the world’s first true Artificial Intelligence Personal Trainer. Vi is a virtual trainer who lives in bio sensing earphones, finds your ideal path to fitness and coaches you in real-time, a product that is sure to make waves in the virtual reality market and become one of the most highly coveted products in the fitness market.


Originally published in J-Wire, Digital Jewish news daily for Australia and New Zealand. 

Jewish News: Aiding, showing solidarity with French Jews

Jewish News: Aiding, showing solidarity with French Jews

Jewish News: Aiding, showing solidarity with French Jews

July 6, 2016

By W. David Weiner


While we were visiting the schools, we met with small groups of graduating high school seniors and nearly 75 percent of them have plans to immigrate to Israel and/or attend JAFI programs, such as Masa, that will let them learn more about Israel. Funds raised in the Phoenix Jewish community support programs like Masa and allow young adults to have an in-depth experience in Israel and escape the anti-Semitism in France. The French Jewish community is strongly Zionistic, and most of their youth have spent numerous summers in Israel. One evening, we attended a touching and emotional send-off of new French olim, who were greeted by the Israeli Minister of Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver. It was beautiful to see Israeli flags flying from the La Victoire synagogue (Grande Synagogue de la Victoire), which has been at the center of Parisian life for over 135 years. 

Tablet: Go East, Young Non-Jews!

Tablet: Go East, Young Non-Jews!

July 20, 2016

By Rebecca Heilweil


In 2012, Edelstein introduced the Global Village Conference in Israel, which was attended by Diaspora Matters’ Aikins and included commentary from representatives from the Jewish Agency for Israel (which helps fund Taglit-Birthright) and Masa Israel, which assists students living in Israel for longer stretches of time. That same year, Edelstein took his first trip to Ireland, briefing journalists and academics on Israel’s diaspora engagement, as well as other issues.

Inside The Security And Diplomacy Program At Tel Aviv University

<div class="masa-blog-title">Inside The Security And Diplomacy Program At Tel Aviv University</div>

By Axel Angeles

Interested in becoming an expert in security policy and diplomatic protocol for the Middle East? Then, this is the right program for you! As an alumni of this program, I can tell you it was an eye opening and challenging experience. This one year master’s program gives you all the essential knowledge and first hand interactions with everything. 


Let’s start with the essentials:


The campus: Tel Aviv University is located in Ramat Aviv, a nice neighborhood with a reputation of having beautiful luxury condos and a relaxed beach vibe. The campus is like an American university with a few libraries and buildings dedicated for specific study areas. It's close to the main city of Tel Aviv and only 10 minutes by public bus. Many students lived in the dorms and others rent apartments in the city. I lived in the dorms because it was convenient and I could just walk across the street and go to class. I also trained for a half-marathon which allowed me to go to the beach every morning and study before class.

Professors: This was one of the main reasons I applied for this program. We had professors with a ton of professional experience whether they were former diplomats, advisors, and even IDF army generals. They gave us the real deal when it came to the realities of security in the region. We had one professor called Azar Gat, a former army Major who has published several books on military theory and strategy. As well as another professor who served as a Colonel in the Research Division of Military Intelligence for the IDF. I was learning from people who actually lived and participated in wars, negotiations and came up with strategies that paved the future for Israel. The knowledge of these professors can not be found anywhere else in the world.


Security: This program really focused on Israel’s security strategy. From how Israel handles their security threats to what methods and technology are used to protect the country. We learned about the future of war, weapons of mass destruction, Israeli technology, and how to measure threats and respond to various scenarios. In addition, our program went beyond Israel and ours included discussing national security policies of surrounding countries. The program includes tours around Israel exclusively visiting security points and areas of strategic interest.

Diplomacy: Every week we would have seminars led by active diplomats from foreign nations. They would give us an inside look at their countries ties with Israel and how they mutually work together. These diplomats would give us tips and insight on how to negotiate and deal with certain situations whether it be political, economic, or security related. Another great thing about Tel Aviv University is that many Prime Ministers come to visit and give speeches on campus. A perk of being in the security and diplomacy program is that you get tickets to these special seminars before they are offered to other university students. While I was there, Angela Merkel, Germany’s prime minister came to speak. If you are lucky enough, you may even meet these public figures in the hallway. 



Classroom: Before I signed up, all I kept thinking was how my class was going to be only Americans. I was proven wrong. This program consists of people from all over the world. Nigeria, Russia, Germany, Mexico, Venezuela, Denmark, Italy, India, etc… the list goes on. What makes this special is that things can get a little spicy. What I mean is that everyone brings a different perspective to the table. There will be heated discussions and a lot of reflection during and after every single class. Of course everyone is friends at the end, but it is an interesting dynamic and you can learn a lot more from your peers than just what's in your textbooks. 

Lessons: There is never a dull moment in the Middle East. This complex region will keep you on your feet and make you wonder if there will ever be a break from all the action. During my time, the Arab world was changing with the Arab Spring. I was able to witness everything from the beginning. The protests in Cairo, the rebellions in Syria and the region become complete chaos. I will never forget being in class and simultaneously watching the riots. It got to the point where the professor told us that what we just learned the week before is history and that the future is only going to get more complicated. This made me realize that getting a master’s degree in Israel could not compare to getting one in the states. I was living and seeing my degree in real time.

Tours: One day a week, the security and diplomacy program traveled all over Israel visiting  security areas. Our guide was an army general who knew everything and anything about the security of Israel. Believe it or not, these trips showed us the reality of Israel and how such a small country survives as they surrounded by their enemies.



Travel: Since I am a natural born risk-taker, I decided to see the region for myself. I traveled to Egypt, Jordan, and Turkey. Israel is also super close to Europe so a weekend trip to Spain or Greece is a must.  


Simulations: At the end of the program you have a crisis simulation. This is an exercise that brings all that you learned over the past year. You get assigned a country and a role (President, Foreign Minister, etc.) that you play throughout the simulation. This is an interesting exercise because it shows what happens in real life when countries get together in a UN style discussion. My simualtion discussed "Iran's nuclear crisis" in which at the moment was a relevant topic. We discussed sanctions, economic pros and cons, and the overall legalities of a nation obtaining nuclear power. Although it was frustrating because every country has its economic and political interests, there are diplomatic solutions.

All in all, getting a master’s degree in Israel was the best decision I have ever made. Most importantly, I didn’t come out with a student loan debt that would haunt me for ages. I came out stronger and more aware of the world around me. I made lifelong friendships, lived like a local in Tel Aviv, got an amazing tan and body, learned Hebrew, traveled, and got a Master’s degree that makes my resume stand out in ways you could not even believe. Imagine walking into an interview with a masters in security and diplomacy from the leading country in the field, Israel. 


To learn more about the MA in Security and Diplomacy at Tel Aviv University, click here