Lisa Heller

Lisa Heller

WUJS Israel
I’d wanted to return to Israel since my Birthright trip eight years before. When the recession hit in 2009 and I lost my job in technology sales, I suddenly had the perfect opportunity.
 
Through my Birthright NEXT fellowship in Florida, I was able to travel to Israel and tell current Birthright participants about all the ways they could stay involved in Jewish life and return to Israel when their 10 days were over. I decided to take my own advice and began researching the right Masa Israel program for me. Because I’d grown up going to Young Judaea camps, I enrolled in Masa Israel’s WUJS Jerusalem Studies, a post-college program also run by the Hadassah movement.
 
During my six months in Jerusalem, I took courses in Hebrew, and Jewish and Israel studies, which were complemented by weekly trips throughout Israel. I also volunteered at an after-school program for disadvantaged youth in Katamon—the highlight of my experience. The kids were off-the-wall, but I soon realized that they simply wanted attention, which I happily gave them through math and English tutoring. In return, they were sweet and appreciative. When I brought them candy on my last day, they reacted with a level of excitement that I have never before seen from American children.
 
I realized that once Israelis know someone, they can be the warmest people, always concerned with making sure that the person feels at home. I spent one Shabbat on a moshav with my brother’s host family from his Young Judaea Year Course and I felt enormously at ease. They treated me just like a daughter.
 
I loved the fact that in Israel, almost everyone around me was Jewish, and that even with the commonality, we were all so diverse. I was in Israel while my religious brother and his wife were studying in yeshiva settings, and in one day, I was able to enter their world and then return to my own.
 
After my program ended, I stayed in Israel for another week, but my thirst for Israel still wasn’t quenched. Back in the working world, I listen to Hebrew language CDs every morning during my hour-long commute. I also hope to visit again soon. There’s just something about the country that fills me with excitement—maybe being in the center of the world, surrounded by my own people. Whatever it is, I keep wanting to return.
 

Louis Sachs

Louis Sachs

Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies
I have spent the past nine months, living in Jerusalem and absorbed in the history of the Jewish people. Through Masa Israel Journey, I am a student at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, where I engage in intensive Jewish textual study each day. Sunday through Thursday, I take classes on Chumash, Talmud, Rambam, Modern Jewish Thought, and many other subjects. In these classes we look at the texts in their original language, often Hebrew or Aramaic. While this has been tremendously difficult for me, it has been exponentially rewarding as I have witnessed how much my abilities have progressed throughout this program. What has been even more incredible is realizing how important and relevant these ancient texts are to my modern life.
 
One of the things I have noticed in our tradition is the importance of tikkun olam, or “repairing the world.” The belief that we need to look out for those around us and not think only of ourselves comes up again and again in our people’s vast literature. “If I am only for myself, what am I?” Hillel famously said in Pirke Avot 1:14, Over 2,000 years ago Hillel, one of the greatest rabbis of our tradition, understood the importance of looking out for the needs of others and not only of our own.
 
In his renowned work, the Mishnah Torah, Rambam taught that eight levels of charity exist and that each is above the other. The lowest is giving grudgingly and the highest is helping someone become self sufficient. Rambam lived in Spain over 800 years ago, and not only understood the importance of helping others but saw that there were distinctions in how one helps another. For Rambam, the greatest form of tzedakah was not a temporary fix, but a permanent solution. He understood that tikkun olam went beyond helping those in need, but addressing the problems cause it, as well.
 
In Bereshit 6:9, we are introduced to Noah and the text states that he walked “with” God. Rashi, one of the greatest commentators in our tradition, notices the difference between this verse and Bereshit 17:1 about Abraham, which tells us that our forefather walked “before” God. Rashi explains that Noah required God’s support for his righteousness, while Abraham had this strength within himself. Many other commentators have also wondered why Noah walked with God and Abraham walked in front of God. While they give many interesting explanations I am particular to one we discussed in my class.
 
Noah himself was a good person; the text even describes him with the same word later used for Abraham, “tamim,” often translated as “pure,” “perfect,” or even as, “blameless.” There is however, one important difference between the two: Noah was himself tamim, while Abraham sought to lift up those around him as well.
 
Over and over throughout the story of Abraham, we see him go out of his way to help those around him. When a powerful group of kings comes from the East to wage war against the local kings near Canaan, Abraham gathers the men of the household to help the local kings. After he saves the day, he takes nothing for himself from the loot they collected in the war. Not only did he go out of his way, but he expected nothing as a reward for his actions. Also, when God plans to destroy the city of Sodom, Abraham argues with him until God agrees not to destroy the city for the sake of 10 righteous people living there.
 
As opposed to Noah, Abraham set himself apart by focusing on helping others in any way he could. He walked before God, because he carried God’s message into the world through acts of tikkun olam. Noah may have been a good guy himself, but when the flood came, he did his duties but didn’t go beyond them to help anyone else. This quality explains why Abraham, and not Noah, merited being the father of the Jewish people.
 
At Pardes, I’ve learned that it is our responsibility as Jews to be like Abraham and to go beyond what we are told to do. Whether it is with money, time, or even just treating our fellow human being with dignity, it is our duty to perform acts of tikkun olam, and repair the world, by helping others in any way we can.
 
Next year, Louis will begin rabbinical school at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies.

Joanna Lieberman

Joanna Lieberman

Career Israel
Program: 
 
As a senior in college, I wasn’t yet ready for the work world because I was not exactly sure what I wanted to do. Though enrolled in Cornell’s School of Human Ecology, I had begun to take many more courses in the School of Hotel Administration. I knew it was a path I needed to further explore professionally and I decided to do so in Israel, a country with a large and successful tourism industry.
 
Through Masa Israel’s Career Israel, I was placed in an internship at the Dan Panorama Hotel in Tel Aviv, one of Israel’s premiere hotels. Two weeks into my internship, I was working in reception like any other full-time employee. Though my father is Israeli, I grew up in Los Angeles and speak very little Hebrew. In the hospitality industry, where English is the main language, this did not put me at a disadvantage.
 
Still, the work was definitely challenging. Before Career Israel, I was a pretty shy person but working in hospitality in a foreign country forced me to leave my comfort zone. Working with Israelis and being expected to fulfill the same tasks as full-time employees was not easy but these experiences taught me to persevere. When I made a mistake—and I certainly made a few—I just had to keep going.
 
My participation in Masa Israel’s Building Future Leaders seminar series helped complement my experience. Aside from taking leadership courses, I was able to meet Diaspora Jews from all over the world, such as South America and Russia, and share my Israel experience with them. As a North American Jew with an Israeli father, I never considered the similarities I may have with Jews around the world—and it was wonderful to learn about our shared cultural traditions and discover our new connection to Israel together.
 
So many important outcomes came from my Masa Israel experience. Not only did I realize that the hectic lifestyle of hospitality—though enjoyable for a few months—was ultimately not for me, I did find my professional place in the Jewish world. Returning with a stronger commitment to Israel and a desire to be involved in Jewish life back home, I became the Leadership & Board Services Coordinator at the American Jewish Committee. I also serve as co-chair of the Cornell Hillel young alumni group and am involved with Masa Israel’s New York alumni group.
 
Following my Masa Israel experience, I took part in a WZO-sponsored trip, which followed Herzl’s footsteps. In 10 days, we traveled from Brussels to Vienna to Budapest to Israel. We were delayed in Budapest and created our own Yom Hazikaron ceremony there, which was very moving.
 
Beyond feeling personally impacted by my Masa Israel experience, I am proud that my experience has affected others. Apparently, constantly rehashing memories from those five months in Israel made a mark on one of my good friends, who participated in Masa Israel’s WUJS internship program. I was excited for her to experience Israel and to hear all about it.

Chad Schaeffer

Chad Schaeffer

Oranim Tel Aviv Internship Experience
 
When Orange Coast College student, Chad Schaeffer was considering his study abroad options, he learned that he could intern at an international marketing firm in Tel Aviv, gain professional experience for his merchandising and marketing major, and earn college credit. He jumped at the opportunity and enrolled in Masa Israel’s Oranim Internship Experience.
 
Having previously traveled to Israel with Birthright, Chad says that he is, “getting an experience that no one else can give me right now.” At SKS Innovating People, Chad oversees the US/UK market, finding leads and making sales. 
 
“I adapted quickly to the Israeli work culture because it is similar to California’s; people are laid back, but hard working,” says Chad. “Then again, Israelis are a little more blunt.” 
 
Chad’s co-workers quickly accepted him as a member of the company. “In Israel, a person’s ideas and hard work are valued rather than his experience,” says Chad. In addition to putting Chad in charge of recreating the product catalog, which included reformulating the company’s mission statement, the firm is working with Chad on a joint business venture. When he returns to California, he will become the US-based distributor.
 
“As a person, I’ve grown tremendously from my internship,” says Chad. “I’ve become a lot more confident and a better leader.”
 
Aside from the professional experience Chad gained in Israel, he has been able to get to know Tel Aviv alongside new Jewish friends from Russia, Canada, Norway, and Germany. “I feel like a local here,” says Chad. “I know where everything is, and I also love the fact that everyone’s Jewish. People don’t question others about their religion, and there’s a lot of room for growth.”
 
Although Chad returns to California in a month, he believes his relationship with Israel is only beginning. “Hopefully I’ll be returning to Israel a bunch. It’s a booming market,” he says. 
 
He also looks forward to becoming more involved in Israel-related events in California. “I have a ton of Jewish friends who were always really involved in Israel, while I wasn’t,” says Chad. “But, now here I am—interning in Israel and loving it."

Bella Shapiro

Bella Shapiro

Israel Government Fellows
 
As much as I love the movie Forest Gump, I do not agree that, “Life is like a box of chocolates.” After returning from Masa Israel’s Israel Government Fellows, a 10-month Israeli government internship program, with the decision to pursue a career connected to Israel and the Jewish people, I believe that life is more like a cake in which layers are slowly built and stacked one on top of the other. 
 
My evolution was definitely not predictable. While I grew up in the Bay Area with a certain awareness of my “Jewishness”—my parents told me I had to marry a nice Jewish boy and we celebrated the high holidays in our own way—I never cared or even knew about the politics, history, or depth of my own rich heritage. 
 
Like many Jewish youth, it wasn’t until midway through college that I began getting involved in Jewish life. I attended St. Mary’s College of California, a Catholic liberal arts school, and decided to take the one introductory Judaism course that my school offered. While studying abroad in England, I participated in a rally protesting Holocaust deniers’ speaking engagements at the university. After returning to the States, I became active with UC Berkeley Jewish groups (as none were available at St. Mary’s) and saw the challenges facing Jewish students on college campuses. The more I took part in various activities, the more I realized how much these issues personally resonated with me. 
 
By the time senior year came along, I started thinking about my passions and how I could apply them to a career. Though my liberal arts degree did not provide me with much of a focus, I realized that ultimately I felt strongest about issues relating to Jews and Israel. With that in mind, I decided to test my theory and spend a year in Israel. I literally wanted to do everything – work, travel, learn the language, and immerse myself in the culture, history, and politics. 
 
Through Masa Israel Journey, I found the one program that was exactly what I was looking for – Israel Government Fellows, a unique 10 month internship in the Israeli government, which also included weekly educational seminars, meetings with top governmental officials, tours around the country, ulpan classes, and community service. 
 
My experiences during those 10 months were diverse and incredible. Not only did I have great internships at the Israel Ministry of Tourism and the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), but through my internships, I also had the opportunity to meet accomplished Israeli government officials, such as Shimon Peres, Nir Barkat, and Moshe Yaalon. Still the most important outcome of the year was my own personal growth. 
 
During my time in Israel, I found an independence and individual strength, which I was not aware that I possessed. Living alone in a foreign country and not knowing the language proved to be extremely difficult. Everything from opening a bank account to ordering a cup of coffee was a challenge. In the beginning, I distinctly remember feeling like I would never figure out the city or feel like a ‘Jerusalemite.’ Yet, by the end of the 10 months, I had a pub to call my own, was able to maneuver throughout the city with ease, and knew which vendor to go to for the best avocados in the shuk. Though they may seem like minor accomplishments, these were the things tested my resolve the most. 
 
Aside from adapting to day-to-day life in Israel while on Israel Government Fellows, I also reaffirmed my desire to commit my professional life to the Jewish people and the Jewish State. Israel Government Fellows provided me with unique insights into the workings of the Israeli government, while living in Israel allowed me to gain perspectives, which can only be acquired from first-hand, immersive experiences. As a result of this effective combination, I now have a better understanding of the type of job I would like to be doing and how I need to focus my passions. After taking part in a seven-week Hebrew immersion program at Middlebury College, I enrolled in Brandeis University's dual masters program in Jewish professional leadership and Middle East Studies. 
 
What started out as a vague notion of Jewish identity turned into a genuine love and desire to make a difference. Undoubtedly, living in Israel played a huge role in my personal development and impacted every aspect of my life. Looking back on this whole process, I see all the small steps I took which brought me where I am today. This is precisely why I do not agree with Forest Gump. I know exactly what I’m “going to get” because I have been the one building the layers. Though there is still progress to be made, I look forward to the day when I can finally put the cherry atop my cake.

Avigail Hurvitz-Prinz

Avigail Hurvitz-Prinz

Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies
About a month ago my Talmud class did an exercise where we shared our reasons for studying Gemora. Everyone had their own reasons, and my list came up to a total of 21 reasons as wide ranging as “intellectual challenge” and “to have a sense of the Rabbinic world” or “to find myself a teacher” – but the top of that list was empowerment.
 
As an adult who first seriously encountered this quintessential Jewish book one-on-one only a few months ago, building skills in Jewish text study was one of my major goals when I came to learn at The Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies this fall. I wanted to know how to access sources, make sense of them in relation to each other and answer how it is that the Jewish world we live in came to be the way that it is. Imagine my surprise when, at the beginning of the semester, I was actually learning a few different Hebrews all at once (Tanakhic and Mishnaic Hebrew) decoding a new typeface (Rashi script) and a whole new language, Aramaic! My limited modern Hebrew was only minimally helpful. Thankfully, every day my chevruta (my learning partner) and I get a little practice and I get a little more familiar with where to go for help. And you need lots of help when you’re a beginning Talmud student!
 
First stop, the dictionaries. Is this a technical Talmud? If yes, turn to Frank (The Practical Talmud Dictionary by Rabbi Yitzchak Frank). If not, try the Jastrow (A Dictionary of the Targumim, the Talmud Bavli, Talmud Yerushalmi and Midrashic Literature by Marcus Jastrow). Is the little snippet of what you’re learning right now mentioned? Yes? Well, then, dingdingding! You’ve just found a Jastrow Jackpot and you and your chevruta should high-five across the table. But if you didn’t find your answer in Jastrow, try your neighbors who are in a level above you. The Beit Midrash study hall is a cooperative place, where learning happens not just from teachers but from fellow students – and hopefully they can help to point you in a good direction. Interruptions are part of the fun of learning in the Beit Midrash and the place has a totally different atmosphere than the silent library carrels of my undergraduate days. The Beit Midrash at Pardes is also an incredible place for its uniqueness among the landscape ofyeshivot and midrashot – men and women learn together. There are times when I forget just how radical that is – but the truth of the matter is that women have not had consistent access to these Jewish texts for very long, nor is it commonplace for us to be able to sit with male learning partners. At Pardes that is the norm, and it still strikes me as hugely important to the community’s ethos.
 
The more I learn, the more I realize how much more there is to know. I have spent the last nine months learning only the most basic tools of what is intended as a lifelong endeavor. I’m lucky for the time I have spent finally doing Jewish learning not just from handouts prepped by informal Jewish educators like me, but straight through a chapter of Masechet Megilla and all of the tidbits it contained. Among my gleanings: the answer for why we repeat a verse in the special Torah reading for the new month, sources for why women may or may not read Torah publicly (depending on your interpretation of the sources) and some insights into behaviors Jews in the Mishnaic period considered heretical (round Tefillin or dressing like “separatists” only in white or wearing no shoes!). Many of these gleanings are interesting to me anthropologically, as they describe the history of Jewish practice. But even more important to me than some of the particular facts I’ve learned is the way I am able to simply open the page and make my way through the Talmud, albeit slowly and with lots of support. My work is not done, but my pursuit of Jewish literacy got a huge boost from the time I have spent at Pardes. Learning from my teachers, my peers and from the sources has been an invaluable way to spend my year – and one whose treasures I look forward to discovering as my Jewish journey continues.
 
Avigail Hurvitz-Prinz learned at Masa Israel’s Pardes in 2010-2011. Avigail grew up in San Diego County, the daughter of two Reform rabbis, attended Reed College where she graduated with a degree in Religion and subsequently worked as Senior Assistant Dean of Admission. From January 2008 until her time at Pardes, Avigail worked as a program associate on Hazon’s Food Programs.

Successful Intern Offered PhD in Science from Tel Aviv University

Successful Intern Offered PhD in Science from Tel Aviv University

Successful Intern Offered PhD in Science from Tel Aviv University

July 19, 2011

Career Israel is a 5 month internship program that led Nathan to intern in his chosen field of Endocrinology, working toward the development of a new cancer treatment. “I had nothing to lose, and possibly a career to gain,” he said.
Career Israel offers professional internship placements in leading companies and organizations in the private and public sectors in Israel. Internship opportunities are available in a number of fields, including law, medicine, advertising and public relations, hi-tech, education, social work, engineering, hotel management and computer science.
 
After graduating from UNSW with an Honours in Science Nathan felt the next step was to gain some professional experience and chose Career Israel to help him do just that!
 
“I was not only motivated to develop my CV, but also to be able to continue to contribute to the fight against cancer in my internship, in the land of our forefathers,” he said.
 
On Career Israel, Nathan worked with Dr. Gary Weisinger, a fellow Australian who made Aliyah thirty years ago and now works as a senior researcher at the Sourasky Medical Centre specialising in thyroid cancer research.
 
Nathan said that Career Israel has given him “a first-hand experience of life and work in another country. Skills, such as coping with stress in the workforce, and tolerance of other's opinions, especially other's that you may completely disagree with, are developed on the program. I now also have a completely different perspective of life in Israel. Taglit-Birthright Israel introduced me to it, now I have lived it.”
 
Nathan’s highlights on Career Israel include both professional and social aspects. Nathan worked 9 hour days, five days a week and speaks passionately about all the new results he observed under the microscope and is excited to begin his research later next year.
 
Career Israel also provides the opportunity for its participants to travel which led Nathan to Stederot and Ashkelon. “We were shown Caterpillar-shaped bomb shelters, rockets collected that were sent from Gaza, followed by stories from some who have been relocated after the Gaza withdrawal.”
 
Nathan speaks fondly of his experiences outside the laboratory which include his many Shabbat dinners with Dr Weisinger’s family in Israel and Shabbat dinners with other like-minded young professionals, all participating on their own 5-month internships."
 
"You make friends from across the globe. None of the (Career Israel) participants knew each other beforehand, and yet we still formed, within hours, our own Jewish community,” Landis said.
 
Career Israel offers international students in invaluable opportunity to seek out experiences that can develop your professional career and lead to opportunities that may otherwise not take place.
 
“No matter what your intentions are to go on Career Israel, they will be met, and more. Your madrichim will make sure of that. The most important thing is to take every opportunity the program offers,” Nathan said.
 
Career Israel understands that there is no better way to get your foot in the door than with an internship and international experience is extremely valuable especially in Israel as an innovative leader in such fields as technology, business and science.
 
“I cannot thank Masa Israel, Career Israel, and the Department of Endocrinology enough for giving me this life-changing opportunity. I am eternally grateful to all of them,” he said.
 
Nathan Landis has been offered a PhD in Science from Tel Aviv University after completing a successful internship at the Sourasky Medical Centre in Tel Aviv as a participant of  Career Israel

Ayalim Entrepreneurs - Pioneers in the 21st Century

<div class="masa-blog-title">Ayalim Entrepreneurs - Pioneers in the 21st Century</div>

 
By Caylee Talpert
 
The sun has not yet fully risen, yet there is a buzz in the usually quiet desert landscape. It’s 5:30 a.m. and students are slowly beginning to emerge from the caravans and tents where they slept the night before. They sleepily spread chocolate spread onto their Matzot, while sipping Turkish coffee as they prepare themselves  for another day of hard work in the hot desert sun.
 

Shoshana Gottesman

Shoshana Gottesman

WUJS Israel
Hometown: Houston, Texas
WUJS Track: Jerusalem Internship & Arts
College: University of Miami Frost School of Music
Major: Music, International Studies & Public Relations
 
Why did you decide to take 6 months and come to Israel?
Since my sophomore year in university, I knew that I wanted to spend time in Israel after graduation. The only question was, which program was the right one for me. Luckily, I found WUJS and so far, so good!
 
What are you doing while on WUJS?
I am interning for Heartbeat Jerusalem, an international community of musicians, teachers, and students that are transforming conflict and creating mutual understanding through the power of music. In other words, Heartbeat brings together Israeli and Palestinian-Israeli youth to make music together and engage in peacemaking activities. As well, I plan on giving a recital at the end of the program on the viola.
 
What are you looking forward to the most?
It is hard to say what I’m necessarily looking forward to the most as I’m already living the dream. It will be exciting to see how my internship with Heartbeat Jerusalem progresses over the next few months.
 
Where else have you traveled in the world?
I am very lucky to have been brought in a family that loves traveling. In fact, many say that I have caught the “travel bug”. I have visited countries in South America, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. My most recent adventures were to Tunisia this past summer to run a music festival for Tunisian youth and to Damascus, Syria on a George Mason University course about Reflection & Practice in the fields of conflict resolution and citizen diplomacy.
 
What Israeli food are you hoping to eat a lot of during your time in Israel?
The hardest question of them all! There is a specific restaurant in the Old City that has the best hummus ever, so hopefully I’ll become a frequent visitor.
 

Abby Ravski

Abby Ravski

WUJS Israel
Hometown: Albany, NY
University: Fashion Institute of Technology – Advertising and Graphic Design
 
I chose to participate in WUJS…
After my husband and I made a last minute decision to come to Israel for the year. I was looking for a program that I could learn Hebrew, advance professionally, and still be able to travel and see the country as this is only my 2nd time in Israel. It was very important to me that I did not let this year go to waste professionally. I wanted to keep practicing graphic design, but break my way into the Jewish work world. I hope to return to the US and do graphics work for a Jewish organization (anyone want to hire me?). I work at Matan Media doing graphics for Young Judaea. I am currently creating a Facebook and Google Ad Campaign for Young Judaea’s gap year program, Year Course. In my field, Facebook and online marketing is very hot right now. Here I am in Jerusalem enhancing my resume and work experience and after work I can go to the shuk and haggle over a sweet potato. Life is good! 
 
What are the tracks like on WUJS?
It was not my original plan to participate in 2 tracks on WUJS, when I met the Ofra the art’s track teacher I immediately fell in love. With my years of Art History this opportunity to learn about the history of Jewish and Israeli art sounded amazing. And it is amazing! The classes and trips we have are well planned, interesting and I find myself sharing and teaching my family and friends what I learn in my classes. My passion and love for art was established in college. Now, as I participate in my WUJS art’s track classes they have helped strengthen my Zionist ideas and connection to the State of Israel.
 
What’s one of your favorite moments in Israel?
I loved spending the High Holidays in Jerusalem. One image I will never forget is seeing a orthodox man on his scooter and kittel (white robe) on his way to Kol Nidre. That’s when it hit me, I’m in Jerusalem, I’m a majority! The silence of the city for all of Yom Kippur truly enhanced the day, and as soon as the sun went down, and people enjoyed their food, the streets echoed with hammers and nails as residents built their sukkot. Where else in the world can you experience this? I am a New Yorker and am used to being surrounded by Jews, but I have found that there’s something in Jerusalem for everyone. Bars are packed at 3am on Thursdays with 20 somethings. H&M just opened in the Malka Mall, the restaurants are amazing, affordable,and Kosher! I have found that no matter what my friend’s level of observance is they have found a love for shabbat, sitting around the table with friends, eating, singing and drinking. What is usually said? “When in Rome do as the Romans do!”
 
What’s been most challenging?
I thought it was really going to be hard keeping in touch with family and I’d feel 6,000 miles awaySkype has actually kept us closer, being able to see everyone’s faces on. Thanksgiving made the day go by much easier. What’s even better is when you’re in Israel so many people come to visit! I came to Israel really wanting to learn Hebrew. It’s harder than I thought it would be! Being in Jerusalem everyone speaks English so it’s very hard to practice. I loved our Ulpan program, the teachers are our peers and we play games and practice our Hebrew for practical situations. It has been a challenge keeping up with the work, practicing in between class and feeling confident speaking out on the street.
 
Tell us about your other world travels:
We had a short Hanukkah break. My husband and I took a trip to Paris. We don’t know a word of French, we passed a clothing store close to the Moulin Rouge. As we shopped we were nervous because we had questions, but how would be communicate in our non existent French? I look over and see a Hamsa on the wall, that’s usually a strong clue to speak Hebrew or defiantly NOT to speak Hebrew. I look closer and he has a “birkat hanoot” (blessing of the store) hung on the wall. Soon enough we said “Efshar medabear ivrit?” (can we speak hebrew?) His face lit up and started speaking Hebrew a mile a minute. Soon enough we were saying “le’at le’at” (slower slower!) He was an Israeli who grew up right outside of Tel Aviv and we know we made his night! This was not the first time our Hebrew has come in handy in our travels, now after 3 months of Ulpan I’m actually able to participate in these world wide encounters! After our year in Israel we are spending the month of June backpacking across Europe and visiting close to 9 different countries. We’re excited to continue to explore the world and then return to “normal life” back in the states in July.