Quiz: What Israeli Food Matches Your Personality?

The Best Places To Study In Tel Aviv

<div class="masa-blog-title">The Best Places To Study In Tel Aviv</div>

Part of the reason I did my Security and Diplomacy Master’s program at Tel Aviv University was location and curriculum. Of course, the beach and the parties was a huge motivator, but career wise it offered what I needed for my resume.


When I say location, I meant the Middle East. I wanted to be in the area, live the culture and travel to surrounding countries.  Curriculum wise, I researched all the professors and syllabus to see if the courses were more than legit and they were. My professors were current and former Army Generals, Ambassadors, and Israeli Intelligence Officers. 


The point is, I signed up, I was living in Tel Aviv, and I had A LOT of books to read, papers to write, and people to meet. Looking back, I was blessed with all the study options available. 


Here are some of the best places to study in Israel:


The beach



There are 8 miles of beach and the best part? Most of the sections of the beach have a restaurant, beach chairs, and most importantly WIFI! In my case, I would go to Tal Baruch beach because it was super close to campus. You can bring a towel and your books and chill for hours while getting ahead on your research paper. I would spend hours before class just reading about military strategies and the history of war while gazing out into the Mediterreanean Sea and natural background music of the waves crashing along the shore. Oh yeah, and you can work on your Tel Avivi tan.


Best beaches:



1. Tal Baruch Beach: I probably spent most of my time at this beach. It’s the closest beach to TAU’s campus and also considered one of the cleanest of all the Tel Aviv beaches. It is usually very calm and not crowded at all. Sometimes, I would go to the restaurant and lay on their chairs while sipping on my Ice Café and reading about Napoleon’s war strategy.

2. Frishman Beach: A very popular beach. Sometimes I felt like I was in the traveling section of a magazine. You have the colorful Dan Hotel in the background, the Matkot (paddle ball) sounds, languages from all over the world, and just an exciting beach vibe.


3. Banana Beach: I love this beach! It’s relaxed, not a lot of tourist and most people are reading, meditating, and playing the famous Shesh Besh (Backgammon). You can study here and meet the locals as they tend to hang out here to avoid the tourists. The best time to go is on Fridays. Next to this beach you will find a Dolphinarium where locals get together during sunset for their weekly drum sessions. People dance, laugh, and most importantly watch the addictive Tel Aviv sunset.





When I wanted to write papers, I would go to the many cafés in Tel Aviv. This was a lot of fun because it helped me meet Israelis (working or chilling) at the café and also get to know the city. Each little neighborhood in Tel Aviv has a hidden gem and popularity. I would go with another friend and we would work for hours on our “National Security Policy” papers while sipping on some Ice Café and Sabich sandwich. Yes, I got all my papers done with good grades, but the best and most rewarding part is that this is where you can discuss openly about any academic thoughts or culture shock you might be going through during your program.


Best Café’s:

1. Arcaffe: This café is located right next to TAU, they serve a strong coffee that will help you dig deep into your studies. It’s also very peaceful, which is nice when you want to focus on your work.


2. Book Worm: This place seems right out of a movie or magazine, it is basically a library/café. There are books everywhere, and the environment is perfect for those that want the “library” feel but still want to go out and about. They also have a garden in the back where you can get away from the hustle and bustle and enjoy a nature filled study vibe. Located on the popular King George Street.

3. The Streets: Open 24/7 this place is where you can hang out on the terrace and get things done. They play hip music, and the crowd is very relaxed.


4. Nechama Va’Chetzi: If you want to be in the “scene” this is the place for you. This place is popular because of its crowd which consists of celebs and everyone who wants to be cool. If you like to people watch and get work done at the same time, this is a cool place to spend some time.



Hayarkon Park

This is my little secret. I would bike everywhere in Tel Aviv, and sometimes I just didn’t feel like being in a café, beach or the city. I wanted something more relaxed and with nature. Well, Hayarkon Park is Tel Aviv’s little secret. Here you can sit on a bench or under the trees while overlooking the lake and hearing the many birds that live in this park. One of the coolest things about this park is the Tsapari, a 7.5-acre bird park, and the largest in the Middle East.  


Do you want to Study Abroad in Tel Aviv? Click Here for more info. 


What Is Matkot? And Why You Should Play It On The Beaches Of Tel Aviv

<div class="masa-blog-title">What Is Matkot? And Why You Should Play It On The Beaches Of Tel Aviv </div>

Imagine lying on the beach in Israel, the sun shining on your face and body, the water waves hitting the shore. Life is good! You might be studying abroad at Tel Aviv University or interning at a start-up in Tel Aviv, but then you hear a foreign sound, a sound that is constant with a rhythm that does not stop. If you’re ever on the beach in Israel, you will hear a constant sound that goes, “blap, blap, blap”. What is all that noise you ask?!


Well, it’s called Matkot, also known as paddle ball. It’s a beach paddle ball game that almost every Israeli has played in their lifetime and that you cannot miss when you visit the beach in Israel. There are three components: two racquets (usually wood) and a ball (same one used in squash). It’s fun, easy, and all you need to do is pay attention to the ball and your partner.



Now, when you think of the beach, the usual plan is to lie out and get a tan. An occasional dip in the water and swimming is involved, alright; some of us are not that lazy and will play volleyball. The problem with playing a popular sport is that you have to be somewhat good. On the other hand, with Matkot there is less worry about being good and more focus on keeping the ball in the air. It’s a game for all ages, and it defines the Israeli approach to just take action and go with the flow.


Matkot has been played on the beautiful beaches of Tel Aviv since the 1920’s. The name of the sport comes from the name of the racquet, matka. It’s been around for a really long time, and it is not going anywhere anytime soon. Many call it the Israeli national sport; there’s even a paddle ball stadium in Tel Aviv. This game has no rules, no winners or losers; the only goal is to have fun and show off that beach body.



How do you play Matkot?

It’s easy!

1. Convince your friend or stranger to play with you.
2. Stand in front of each other, at least 20 feet apart. Give your partner some space.
3.  Serve your opponent with the racquetball from the bottom up.
4. When your opponent hits the ball back, try to hit it back to him/her.
5. Make sure to keep the ball in the air without the ball falling on the floor.
6. Get a flow going, it’s okay if the ball falls on the floor, pick it up and try again!
7. Fun games: count your ABC’s until the ball drops, see how far in the alphabet you can get. 


Where to buy a racquet?

Literally, any macholet store (corner store) on the beach will have one; they are fairly priced and easy to carry. If you want something more professional, then head to the mall and inquire in one of the sports stores. Life hack: just make friends with the Israelis, they will love showing you how to play their favorite beach sport.


To learn more about how to get your Grant and to choose the right Masa Israel experience, click here


The Top 8 Must-Do Hikes In Israel

<div class="masa-blog-title">The Top 8 Must-Do Hikes In Israel</div>


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. 


10 Things To Buy At The Shuk

<div class="masa-blog-title">10 Things To Buy At The Shuk</div>

In Israel, one of the cultural highlights of the country is the Shuk. Yes, this loud and crowded place that sells everything and anything. There are also hidden gems on the periphery like restaurants and bars, but that’s for another blog. Here I will be focusing on the essentials of everyday life while living in Israel.


Although these items might seem a bit basic, they have their Israeli flavor to them, and you will know what I am talking about once you return from your amazing Masa Israel program. Here are ten things you have to buy when visiting one of Israel’s famous shuks.

Just remember! Bargaining is expected and should be practiced…but don’t get too crazy.


1. Phone case


One of the first things you will see is cell phone cases. The unique thing about these is that they have a lot of humor and sometimes seem very blunt, but hey, when in Israel right? One thing I can guarantee is that you will not find many of these graphics or styles in the USA. Oh, and they do fairly well protecting your phone.

2. Jewelry


Ladies, there are tons and tons of different little trinkets everywhere. I went with my sister one time and left her behind. At the shuk you will find earrings, necklaces, rings, you name it they have it. The cool thing about the jewelry in the shuk is that they offer so many styles and colors; many of these are handmade so you will rarely find them at your favorite go to store. Guys, there is some cool stuff for you too!

3. Underwear


This one is funny; I know what you are thinking…Really? Yes, really. Guys you can find cool underwear here. From Israeli flag and army inspired to imitation Calvin’s. They are pretty good quality and if you really want to show them off, be like some Israelis who use them as bathing suits (not suggesting you do this).

4. Art


I listed this because we all need a little color in our lives. You don’t want to have a dull dorm room or apartment, do you? Well at the shuk you can find all the colors, from Einstein sticking out his tongue to that Goat painting by Menashe Kadishman you keep seeing randomly in some galleries around the city. The shuk is great to buy art because it’s fairly cheap and they offer you 3 for 100 shekels in some places.

5. Fruits and Vegetables


This is my favorite reason to come to the shuk. Israel is known for their super fresh and organic fruits and vegetables. Trust me on this, the taste of a tomato and/or cucumber will make a long lasting impact on your palate.

6. Nuts


When I think of the shuk for some reason, I always imagine a bazaar-like in the Aladin movies and the monkey stealing. Well that’s not the case in Israel, no animals walking around (haha no but really) and one thing you will notice is the ocean of nuts all over the place. Besides people being a little nuts, there is all kinds of options from macadamia to almonds and pecans. There are even some you’ve probably never even knew existed. This is the time to try new things; I challenge you!

7. Tea


While most of us LOVE coffee, out here in the Middle East Tea is more popular. From Green Tea to Mint tea, you can swim in all the flavors. Many Sephardic families often have their morning tea with a nice chocolate cake for breakfast; take that for a sweet tooth.

8. Spices


You’ve seen the images of piles and piles of spices. You also know how important these are for the taste of your food. From curry to paprika you will smell all of the spices from all over the world! Believe it or not, this is a great present to bring to your parents and friends.

9. Zaatar Halva


Give your chicken and vegetables the real Middle East flavor! These blocks of spice are so weird looking but within them lays the secret taste we all love. Take some of this home and start experimenting, there are even sweet ones with chocolate.

10. Beer


Last but not least, amongst all the yelling, bargaining, and balagan (craziness) there is the beer at the shuk. After hours, some shuks become a place to meet up with friends and grab a drink. Here you can find many Israeli Breweries and taste the real flavor of Israel!


Do you want to come to Israel? Click here to learn how you can get your grant and find the right Masa Israel experience! 


The Forward: How I Fell in Love With a Nice Jewish Boy Named Christian While in Israel

The Forward: How I Fell in Love With a Nice Jewish Boy Named Christian While in Israel

The Forward: How I Fell in Love With a Nice Jewish Boy Named Christian While in Israel

August 18, 2016

By Eliana Rudee, Career Israel alumna

On the first day of our semester-long Israel program, Chris and I met on the bus. But it’s safe to say that our relationship was not nurtured on wheels, but rather, on foot. Living at the Hebrew University campus, we always had an extra-long walk to our Shabbat hosts. We’d walk along the light rail tracks, long after the train stopped running for the Sabbath. We walked, talking about our jobs, our families back home in the United States and Brazil (respectively), and our thoughts and dreams.


Chris’ family was secular, somewhat culturally Jewish, but mostly Brazilian. Until he went on Birthright, he had very little exposure to Judaism within his family — no Shabbat, Hebrew school, or Bar Mitzvahs. His father had a hobby of pointing out Jewish celebrities but had never been back to Israel, his birthplace that he left as a toddler. As Brazilian Jews of Egyptian and German descent, Chris tells me that his family identified more with the Brazilian culture than anything else, which explains his intriguing name, Christian, “a beautiful Brazilian name not having anything to do with Christianity,” his family says.


I was brought up in the suburbs of Seattle, in a Conservative Jewish community where we drove to and from Shabbat services and ate pepperoni pizza, not realizing it was pork. Hebrew school was something forced upon me by my parents, and boy did I give them a hard time for it.

As a kid, I did everything I could to get out of going to Sunday school, including screaming, crying, and wearing short skirts that I knew my mom would deem inappropriate for synagogue. I did love my family’s Jewish traditions, including our Hanukkah parties, Rosh Hashanah get-togethers, Pesach Seders, and our weekly Shabbat dinner with all of my cousins, aunts, uncles, and my grandma. But until I came to Israel, I would never have said that I loved being Jewish.


Chris and I both viewed coming to Israel as a way to advance our careers, which is why we chose to come on the a program called “Career Israel,” organized by Masa Israel Journey. We were the babies of the group, each taking a semester off from school, whereas most had already graduated college.


Neither of us chose to come to Israel for religious purposes, but we did end up exploring our Jewish identities and religious customs. Being in Jerusalem introduced us to the observant way of keeping Shabbat. Each of us lived with roommates who kept kosher and Shabbat, so we had to learn how to be respectful of their practices. At Shabbat meals, we learned rituals like washing our hands before the meal, dipping the challah in salt after saying the blessing over the bread, hamotzi, and saying a blessing after the meal.


Although we did not keep Shabbat ourselves, we believed in the saying: “When in Israel, do as the Israelis do” and we kept the spirit of Shabbat. Although many Israelis are secular, they respect the idea of Shabbat even if they do not observe all the laws.


Chris and Ellie

Chris and Eliana at Passover 2016


That is, they believe there should be one day dedicated to rest, and even more, to building relationships rather than withdrawing into our work or our smartphones. So on Saturdays, Chris and I hung out with our friends and we actually talked to one another without the use of any electronics! We played cards on the lawn of the student village, passed around a soccer ball, and ended Shabbat with friends by our sides as we did Havdalah.


Of course, as many of the best relationships begin, we were “just friends” for the first four months of our program. More accurate, however, would be that we were “just best friends.” We did everything together — we decompressed after work together, cooked dinner together, and we even did laundry together.


Little did I know that Chris would soon admit his love for me in a letter, just a month before our program ended and we were to part ways. When we did part, Chris left me with a plan for our relationship: we will finish school in our respective countries and later, move to Israel together. And that’s exactly what we did.


Looking back at the five months we spent together in Israel, I think about the phrase, “More than the Jews have kept Shabbat, Shabbat has kept the Jews.” I believe that on an interpersonal level, Shabbat kept, or perhaps fostered, our relationship. Without the Israeli spirit of Shabbat, I’m not sure that we would have gotten to know each other as well as we did.


Perhaps this is one reason why we ultimately decided to make aliyah together, to begin our life together as immigrants in Israel. We are far from the United States and from Brazil and neither of us has family in Israel, making it an unlikely place to live.


But in a significant way, our relationship is based in, and on, Israel. After the five best months of our lives, we had fallen in love with Israel, and then, with each other. It felt natural to move to Israel, the place where we met, where we had our first date, where we fell in love, and where we walked together on those many Shabbat afternoons.


Eliana Rudee is a fellow with the Haym Salomon Center and the author of the “Israel Girl” column for JNS.org. She is a graduate of Scripps College, where she studied international relations and Jewish studies. Her bylines have been featured in USA Today, Forbes, and The Hill.


Originally published in The Forward.

Haaretz: Letters to the Editor: Responses to Arab English Teachers in Jewish Schools

Haaretz: Letters to the Editor: Responses to Arab English Teachers in Jewish Schools

Haaretz: Letters to the Editor: Responses to Arab English Teachers in Jewish Schools

August 18, 2016

By Tamar Zilbershatz, Director of Service and Gap Programs at Masa Israel Journey


Another resource to address English teacher shortage


In response to “With Qualified English Teachers in Short Supply, Israel’s Jewish Schools Start Courting Arabs” (Haaretz.com, August 9).

Judy Maltz addresses the shrinking number of English teachers available to work in Israel’s schools. As the article shows, this is a critical issue — especially in the country’s periphery — and the Education Ministry has taken notice.


The influx of recently graduated Arab-Israeli teachers hired to work in Jewish schools is a welcome development that should be fully supported.


But there’s an additional resource, created through a partnership between the Education Ministry and Masa Israel, that could also help fill the void. Schools in Israel searching for extra bandwidth for English education should consider bringing in native English speakers living abroad who are eager to spend a year serving Israeli communities and gaining professional experience.


More and more, young people are seeing Israel as a prime destination for teaching English after college — right up there with Spain, China and South Korea. Through Masa Israel Teaching Fellows, we’ve brought hundreds of participants to more than a dozen Israeli communities from Netanya to Rahat, where they have a real impact tutoring in small groups and through one on one instruction. These are college graduates who come to Israel year after year to bolster their personal and professional growth, form lasting bonds with the country and make a positive difference in the lives of Israeli children.


So, as schools continue to identify solutions for the shortage of English teachers readily accessible, it’s worth highlighting the potential of this newly tapped resource.


Originally Published in Haaretz.

Washington Jewish Week: Opposites Attract

Washington Jewish Week: Opposites Attract

Washington Jewish Week: Opposites Attract

August 17, 2016

By Daniel Schere


Theirs is a story worthy of the holiday of love.

Finding a soulmate wasn’t the first thing on Blake Yospa and Rachel Leeds’ minds in 2014 as they began a year with the Masa Israel Teaching Fellows program in Rishon LeZion, Israel. But as the spring of 2015 rolled around and the program was wrapping up, a romance began to blossom when Yospa asked Leeds for some much-needed practical advice.


“I needed to get some alone time with her to tell how I felt, so I asked for some help picking out some gifts for my sister and my mom,” he said last week. “And I told her how I felt, and she smiled and told me how she felt, and we’ve been dating ever since.”


Tu B’Av, the 15th day of the month of Av, is Friday this year.


Yospa and Leeds had spent the year together as aides in a classroom of third through fifth graders who were learning English. In the beginning they worked on projects together in a friendly, collegial setting, but that’s all it was.


“As time went on I slowly developed feelings for her,” recalled Yospa, 28.


He didn’t want to mess up the work relationship and would drop subtle hints like, “If you’re going to the beach, I’ll come,” but she never understood, he said.


“He would just text me these funny different things, and I wouldn’t respond,” Leeds said. “I was just not interested. Like, altogether it was like a work relationship.”


Leeds, 26, said when she first met Yospa, she thought he was “loud and obnoxious,” but in a fun way.

“He was very different in terms of being way more outgoing than I am,” she said. “I’m more in the background. So I was like, ‘he’s just trying to be all funny.’”


It was Yospa’s gift shopping trip at the end of the program that convinced Leeds to stop ignoring the aroma of romance after nine months of working together.


Shortly after that, they talked about their plans back in the States. She was set to begin teaching fourth grade at KIPP DC Promise Academy, a charter school. He was headed back to his native Baltimore to look for a job; two weeks after arriving he landed a position as an operations assistant with the Washington Redskins. They have been dating ever since.


To celebrate the one-year anniversary of their relationship, Yospa and Leeds had dinner at Union Market on July 24.


“We’re foodies and not big drinkers,” Yospa said. “She’s a wine drinker and I like classic cocktails. So we like to treat ourselves to a nice dinner now and again.”


They also printed a map of Israel and marked the coordinates of the spot where they first met.


Perhaps it was by chance that Leeds, an early childhood education major at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, met Yospa, a sports management major at Towson University. But a love for public service and a desire to connect with the Jewish state brought them together.


Originally published in Washington Jewish Week.

The Art of Organized Chaos Part 1

<div class="masa-blog-title">The Art of Organized Chaos Part 1</div>

Embracing the Unknown 

 Adi Hila Yoffe, Director of North American Business Development

  Adi Barel, Director of International Business Development


Israel’s innovative nature and comfort with discomfort can contribute to your personal growth and your company’s bottom line.

In the ‘Start-Up Nation”, we have discovered how to turn the challenge created by an abundance of opportunities and unknowns into a life of success. We bring an innovative perspective and drive to everything we do. Whether you’re launching your own start-up or managing a team, getting comfortable with being uncomfortable is an essential practice.

This blog is our way of exploring Israeli cultural traits that make our startups so successful and we’ll introduce you to different perspectives by interviewing top CEOs, entrepreneurs. We’ll share ideas research, tools and methods you can apply to help you find composure amongst chaos. Stay tuned to learn about Israel’s secret sauce for success. See how an immersive experience in Israel helps people become more adaptable, ambitious, and open-minded professionals.

And here’s our first secret:

Put your hands in the air like you just don’t care

What would happen if people learned to handle complexity, to sit with fear and discomfort, and to have it help them grow?

Most Israelis by the age of 22 learned how to manage risk. One reason might be the army experience every Israeli goes through after high school. Faced with life or death decisions, Israelis know there is no place or time for self-consciousness or shallow expectations or beating around the bush traits we see daily in Western society. There’s no time for bullshit, only authenticity and quick, concise action.

In a place where there is no shame, creativity blooms. A place where authenticity is celebrated, not shunned. Where the trick is not how to avoid conflict but to navigate it well and to let it help you grow.

So far we talked the talk, now let’s walk the walk showing how these big words come into play:

1. Israeli’s Tell It How It Is: Being offended is a complete waste. Save time and energy by saying exactly what you mean, and be ready to hear direct feedback. It’s easy in this world to make everything politically correct but we promise – it’s worth it to call it what it is accompanied by - Let’s move on people, time is money. Your employee underperforms, you feel your boss isn’t hearing you out? Communication is the key, telepathy didn’t win wars. Think about it as going home to your wife and she’s giving you “the look” now we all know what that means. But, really you ask yourself – what does it mean? Do ask, do tell. 


2. No excuses: High standards and a relentless appetite for challenge. An Israeli startup CEO might wear a Pokémon T-shirt to work, 

but in 2003 he was a Commander in the 8200 cybersecurity intelligence unit, the boss of 25 people in a tiny room no one will ever admit exists. Their success meant a nation slept safe at night. 

A small failure could mean life or death. 

No blaming, just succeed.  (No pressure though…)


3. Teamwork gets things done. Accountability is the name of the game. Because you are expected to answer emails on “California time” you’re also forgiven for “working from a café” at 11 am on a Wednesday or even using Wi-Fi on the beach. However, constant communication is needed and people in Israel always know that survival depends on working together. Being surrounded by difficult neighbors leads you to work together to utilize everyone’s strengths for a common goal. It’s the same ways in a startup and while you might just be a Project Manager, in Israel if something is needed for marketing or HR that same project manager might need to step in. And they would step up.


“Indeed we are a small country, but as my dentist says, “Adi Hila for someone with such a big mouth you have such a small one. How ironic”. Same way with our country. A tiny country and yet, the highest per capita ration of startups, home to the R&D center for many global companies, and one of the highest global scores on the happiness index. http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/countries/israel/  (Adi Hila)

“The latest research presented by Facebook indicates that people have 4.74 degrees of separation between them. In global terms this mean a lot considering the average is 6. Can you believe it? Here everybody always knows somebody at someplace that at one point he or she went to the army or youth group with. This influences performance and the likeability of creating meaningful partnerships and brainstorms with the greatest minds.” (Adi Barel)

Our future blogs will investigate the bits and pieces of the secret sauce of THE Israeli mental model. Innovation is the Big Thing we know and what makes headhunters love us so much. Mostly because – Hey, can you not?


Stay tuned for interviews with industry leaders, entrepreneurs, tools, and research and we look forward to sharing our journey with you.

Any industry leaders in Israel that interest you? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll make it happen. Connections - The Israeli way.

Sign up for email updates to receive interviews from the top movers and shakers in Israel and stay up-to-date on the latest innovation news in the startup nation.

Adi Hila Yoffe is Masa Israel’s new Director of Business Development for North America. She was born in Israel and grew up in the United States. Adi Hila brings North American business acumen combined with an Israeli mentality to the table. Her mission is to drive participation, develop new initiatives, collaborations and partnership in the business and NPO sector. Over the past few years, Adi Hila worked in the private sector managing strategy and cultivating business partnerships. She is based in New York City.

Adi Barel is Masa Israel’s International Business Development Director. Over the past few years Adi developed the field of Career Development via international programs in Israel, and is a leader in this arena. Adi works closely with top companies in Israel and emerging startups on development and enrichment. She is based in Tel Aviv.

Adi Hila & Adi Barel hold parallel positions at Masa Israel Journey and are the driving force behind its research and development. Together they create opportunities for students, universities and corporations enabling them to reach their full potential, personally and professionally. Always up for the challenge. Their latest initiatives are the Innovation Academy, a CIO training boot camp aimed at corporate America and a Women’s Empowerment Internship track providing opportunities for women.



JTA: For 'Jewish Valentine's Day,' Meet 5 Couples who Found Love on Israel Trips

JTA: For 'Jewish Valentine's Day,' Meet 5 Couples who Found Love on Israel Trips

JTA: For 'Jewish Valentine's Day,' Meet 5 Couples who Found Love on Israel Trips

August 14, 2016

By Gabe Friedman


In the two-part finale of the third season of “Broad City,” the show’s main characters, Abbi and Ilana, embark on a “Birthmark” trip — a thinly veiled allusion to the famed Birthright Israel trip that sends Jews aged 18 to 26 on free 10-day trips to Israel.

Upon boarding the “El Ol” plane, the best friends are assigned seats next to guys based on their “match potential.”


It’s hilarious — partially because it hits so close to home.


Programs such as Birthright and Masa Israel Journey, which offers study abroad and volunteer and internship opportunities in the Jewish state, are known — anecdotally, at least — for their high matchmaking rates. Even the receptionist for Birthright’s alumni community network who fielded this reporter’s phone call met her husband on a trip (read on for her story).


Thursday night marks the beginning of Tu b’Av, a minor holiday known as the “Jewish Day of Love.” A matchmaking day for unmarried women in the Second Temple period, before the fall of Jerusalem in 70 C.E., Tu b’Av is now a popular romantically themed day in Israel similar to Valentine’s Day in the United States.


In honor of the holiday, enjoy the stories of these five adorable couples who met in Israel.


Alissa Platcow and Zeeva Berman, both 24


Zeva and Alissa

Zeeva Berman, left, and Alissa Platcow (Courtesy of Platcow)


Alissa and Zeeva met at the airport in 2013 on the way to the same Masa program, Jerusalem Sounds, which offered music and other classes at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. But they quickly realized that they must have crossed paths multiple times, having grown up about 10 minutes apart from each other in the Boston area and attending the same small Hebrew school for years. They even participated in the same gymnastics program in middle school.



During their semester abroad, they attended an acrobatics convention together — the only non-dancers there. The women acknowledged perhaps taking the program too seriously, as the dancers considered it vacation time, Alissa and Zeeva both told JTA.


Near the end of the convention, Alissa woke up dehydrated — and Zeeva went into “mama bear mode.” With no hospital around, Zeeva forced the convention administrators to call an ambulance. The ambulance workers didn’t put the IV needle in Alissa’s arm correctly — it hurt, so Alissa started talking to the workers to distract herself.


“I was like, ‘Let them do their job!’” Zeeva said.


By the end of what they jokingly call the “near death experience,” the couple knew they were meant for each other.


“It definitely cemented our relationship,” Alissa said.


Now they live together in Manhattan, where Alissa is the membership assistant at Temple Israel and occasionally leads services at the Bay Ridge Jewish Center. Zeeva teaches music at the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue and other temples. (Oh, and she liked acrobatics so much that she now teaches it, too.)


Blake Yospa,28 and Rachel Leeds, 25


Blake Yospa and Rachel Leeds

Blake Yospa and Rachel Leeds in Annapolis, Md. (Courtesy of Yospa and Leeds)


Blake and Rachel both spent the better part of a year working as teaching assistants at a school in Rishon LeZion. Blake liked Rachel, but felt he couldn’t make a move for, you know, professional reasons.


But with two weeks left in their Masa Israel program, he had to say something. To get her alone, Blake asked her to help him pick out gifts for his family members.


“I said, ‘Rachel, I kind of have a thing for you.’ She says ‘no, you’re lying.’ But she was smiling, so I could tell that she maybe felt something for me too,” Blake said.


He said he never would have crossed paths with Rachel if they hadn’t met in Israel — after all, she was living in Cleveland and he was in suburban Baltimore. Blake described it as luck that she was dissatisfied with the Cleveland school she was working at — it inspired her to go to Israel — and that the first school she worked at in Israel had a host of logistical difficulties, forcing her to transfer to Blake’s school.


The couple now live together in Washington, D.C., where Rachel is an elementary school teacher and Blake is an operations assistant for the Washington Redskins.


Arielle Mogil, 30, and Max Mogil, 29


Arielle and Max

Arielle and Max Mogil at their costume engagement party. (Courtesy of Arielle Mogil)


Arielle and Max met during the first ice breaker on their Birthright trip.


Everyone was given a card with a fun fact about someone in the group; the goal was to find the person it applied to. But by the time she sat back down in the group circle, Arielle was disappointed that she couldn’t find the person who played an instrument.


She happened to sit next to Max, who immediately told her he played piano.


“We joke that that’s his pickup line: ‘I’m a classical pianist,’” Arielle said.


Love grew from there and, to commemorate the day they met — which happened to be Purim — they had a costume engagement party. When the couple married in January, 14 people from their Birthright trip attended the wedding.


Now Arielle works on the staff at the Birthright Alumni Network. In addition to answering the phone — when she excitedly shared her story — she occasionally staffs Israel trips.


And when she does, she always makes sure to play that same ice breaker.


“I tell them that’s how I met my husband,” she said.



Ellie Rudee and Chris Goldenbaum, both 24


Chris and Ellie

Ellie Rudee and Chris Goldenbaum at Passover 2016. (Courtesy of Rudee)


They met in Jerusalem on Valentine’s Day a few years ago, but it took Chris a long time to win over Ellie. Chris, a native Brazilian, was interning at an organization promoting arts and culture. Ellie was interning at a private counterterrorism firm — and was also dating someone.


Months later their first date, a picnic at Jerusalem’s Montefiore Windmill, didn’t start exactly as planned — Chris forgot silverware and cups. Still, they had a great time.


“We were walking back and stopped in this restaurant to get drinks,” Ellie said. “We waited and waited, but nothing came. Eventually we were like, ‘Should we just go?’ So we just bolted and ended up laughing really hard.”


Their similar attitudes may have sealed the deal — but Ellie says it doesn’t hurt that he can do spot-on impressions of people they used to have Shabbat dinner with during their Masa program.


“We met a lot of people who said really crazy things,” Ellie said.


Both are journalists and now live in Jerusalem, although Chris is currently in Brazil working on film projects related to the Olympics.


Daniel Behrman, 32, and Jenna Kruger, 31



Daniel Behrman and Jenna Kruger (Courtesy of Behrman and Kruger)


Daniel and Jenna met at a weekend conference in Jerusalem through their Masa internship programs. When they saw each other at the same lectures, they thought it was just coincidence. But they didn’t stay “just friends” for long — soon they were frequently traveling back and forth between Tel Aviv, where Daniel was interning at a marketing firm, and Jerusalem, where Jenna was interning at Hadassah.


“We joke that Jerusalem is a ‘city of love’ even though it isn’t [known as] that,” Jenna said. “I think it’s just a less stressful environment when you go out and you don’t have to worry about the religious aspect because everyone is Jewish.”


When they were both back in the States, Daniel immediately flew her out to see him in Seattle, where he worked.


“Before I went over, my mom told me not to fall in love with an Israeli,” Jenna said. “Moving to Seattle wasn’t quite what she had in mind either.”


The couple will marry in September.


Originally Published on JTA.org.