Alison Hortig
2009-2010
Yonatan Rosen
2009-2010
Seth Norman
Noah Bernstein
Beth Canter
Eco-Israel, 2008-2009
Bella Shapiro
Arielle Miller
2007-2008

Amy Nisman

Amy Nisman

Career Israel
Program: 
January 2008. I’m sitting in a cubicle on the 23rd floor of the World Financial Center with 17 Excel spreadsheets on my laptop, absurdly ecstatic by the discovery of 54 cent refills now being offered at the Starbucks downstairs. No, this is not a post from mylife.com, but a glimpse into what my life was like nearly two years ago. At 24 years old, I knew something had to change, and fast.
 
Although I made annual visits from Cleveland to Israel to see family since childhood, I had always wanted a more immersive experience there. After graduating from Emory with a degree in business administration, working in public accounting for two years, and earning my CPA license, the time was finally right. After searching the web for long-term programs, I found the perfect fit: Masa Israel’s Career Israel.
 
I was attracted to the opportunity for many reasons. Not only did it include a five-month internship in my field of choice, but I would also take part in a six-week intensive Hebrew ulpan, educational seminars, trips throughout the country, and would receive housing in Tel Aviv alongside other recent college graduates. While most of the participants chose to work in their field, I saw this as the perfect opportunity to take a break from my career in accounting and volunteer in a social justice capacity.
 
Shortly after notifying my employer and moving out of my Manhattan apartment, I arrived in Israel and began volunteering at Kadima, an integrated after-school center for disadvantaged children in Jaffa. Though the work was challenging, I missed the fast-paced environment of my previous work.
 
Soon after I began volunteering at the school, I received a job offer at a waste energy start-up that had technology to convert landfill waste into renewable fuel for sale all over the world. There, I was able to use my knowledge in the up-and-coming field of renewable energy and help the start-up’s international clients develop business plans. After working for such a large company in New York, I thrived in the flexible start-up environment, which gave me more responsibility and the opportunity to get involved in areas outside of my job title.
 
Fast forward one year. Despite having made all the arrangements to return to New York after the program ended – furniture stored in a rented space, a lucrative job waiting, and plans to move in with my best friend – I am still here. I took the job at the start- up which became a long-term position as their VP of Finance. That opportunity, coupled with my love of Israel and the incredible experience of living in Tel Aviv, led me to stay.
 
Today I work as an assistant controller for a financial services outsourcing firm in Ra’anana and continue to enjoy living in Tel Aviv. Had it not been for Masa’s program, there’s a good chance I’d still be stuck in the concrete jungle addicted to venti Starbucks iced coffees. I encourage more young adults take advantage of these wonderful opportunities in Israel.

Roselle Feldman

Roselle Feldman

Dance Journey
Program: 
Right before the economy collapsed, I was scheduled to teach over thirty dance classes at dance studios in the South Shore Massachusetts area. Then, one of the studios suddenly closed and my formerly packed schedule was depleted.
 
I was quite disappointed and unsure what to do next with my life. I’d recently returned from a Birthright trip to Israel and knew I wanted to return. Growing up, my family had been observant but since high school, I’d drifted from the religion. Israel reawakened me to Judaism. I started to look for opportunities to be in Israel and continue my passion for dance.
 
At the last minute I discovered Masa Israel’s Dance Journey, a five-month dance program for international dancers between the ages of 18 to 30 located in Israel’s Dance Village in the Western Galilee. In just one week, I was on a plane to Israel.
 
I have been dancing my entire life but I have never found a place that rivals the Dance Village. Based in Kibbutz Ga’aton, the Dance Village was like a natural oasis filled with dancers. This meant that community members were not only engaged in the same art form, but they were constantly thinking similar thoughts and experiencing similar things. If I ever wanted help with a dance move, I only needed to turn to my neighbor. Support, encouragement and compassion were never hard to come by. Massages to ease throbbing muscles were always easy to obtain. Music continuously flowed through the kibbutz
 
Aside from being surrounded by a community of dancers, the Dance Journey participants were fortunate to receive the mentorship of the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company (KCDC). Not only did they teach our classes, but we also had the opportunity to perform at their Gala, as well as for the President of Israel, Shimon Perez. At the end of Dance Journey, participants were able to audition for a possible spot with KCDC, or given other opportunities to dance on the kibbutz.
 
Our days were packed with dancing from morning to night with classes in ballet, Graham technique, jazz, modern and repertoire, and we also toured the country, while learning a bit of Hebrew. Once a week, I volunteered at a center for physically disabled individuals, while others worked with at-risk youth.
 
With individuals from 12 countries, including Slovakia, Russia, Uruguay and Mexico, the Dance Journey participants not only grew together as dancers, but we discovered Israel together. While preparing dinner together on many nights, we had long discussions about our cultures and traditions, each with his/her own perspective.
 
We ended the program with a big performance featuring the KCDC repertoire and our own choreography. Our friends and family in Israel came to see it, as well as other Masa Israel participants and staff.
 
Back in Massachusetts, I am teaching dance and applying to programs for continuing my education. I have started to become involved with my local Jewish community and I hope to incorporate both my loves of dance and Judaism in my future.
 
Dance Journey gave me the most productive reprieve I could ever imagine. Hit by the economic crisis, it enabled me to stay engaged in my art while becoming closer to Israel. I am so thankful for the opportunity. 
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