When you think of Israel, many people only think of the beaches or religion, but seem to forget the diverse landscape. This tiny country offers more than many other countries in the world, and one thing that Israel has are amazing hikes!
Israel is truly a hiker’s paradise, from waterfalls and lush green mountains, to caves and salt mountains, and even canyons in the desert. What more can you ask for? Here are some of the top hikes you can do in Israel.
1. Nahal Jilabun
Photo credit: http://timeout.co.il/
Located in the Golan Heights (North), this is Israel’s second largest waterfall. This is one of the most beautiful hikes in Israel since it highlights the Jilabun waterfall and pools. It will take about 3 hours to complete with moderate effort, but is well worth it at the end. The best part, you can swim in the water right under the waterfall and even get a glimpse of the rainbow that reflects from the sun!
2. Nahal Amud
Located near Tzfat, this scenic hiking trail will keep you wanting more. It means “Pillar River” because the stream along the trail flows into the Sea of Galilee. It’s only 3 miles and at the end of the journey, many go into the pools!
3. Wadi Kelt
Photo Credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0b/Palestine,_Wadi_Qelt,_(Landscape_with_St._George's_Monastery)(10).jpg
One of the most popular destinations for tourists, this canyon trail, is often visited not only for the historic Greek monastery but also believe it or not, the natural pools. The best times to visit are on the weekends when everyone is together, and there is more life and other hikers on the trail.
4. Mount Sodom
Photo Credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/8a/Sodom_Salt_Cave_031712.JPG/220px-Sodom_Salt_Cave_031712.JPG
Located in the Dead Sea area, this mountain is literally made out of salt. It has some amazing caves and views! You will be impressed at the many rock formations that look like they are out of this world. This 5-mile stretch can take up most of your day as you will be gazing at one of the rarest rock formations in the world.
5. Ein Gedi Nature Reserve
Also located in the Dead Sea area, this famous water hike is by far the most popular hike in Israel. Get away from the heat of the Dead Sea and jump into a waterfall that will blow your mind. After about an hour of hiking, which is fairly easy, you will get to the famous Wadi David waterfall which is breathtaking and refreshing.
6. Nahal Og
Photo credit: http://www.israel21c.org/
This hike walks you through many white chalk canyons that look straight out of a movie. The walk is very easy as most of the way its flat. On the other hand, there is one challenge, the almost vertical descend. Not to worry, there are rungs in place to climb down and very sturdy in case you are wondering about safety. This trail is best started during the mid-day and should end before sunset as you can see the colors of the sky and contrast of the white canyons.
7. Nesher Park
Photo credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/77/Nesher,_Park_Nesher,_Wadi_Katia_079.JPG
Located in Haifa, this is a hidden treasure that many have no idea exists. This park includes two steel bridges that hang above the ground with magnificent panoramic views. You can come here all year round and experience this awesome location!
8. Amram’s Pillars/The Black Canyon
Photo by Brian Blum
This hike is located in the south area of Israel in the Eilat Mountains. This challenging path can be long but definitely worth the trek. You can see amazing rock formations and canyons you filled with black granite rock and limestone.
To learn more about Masa Israel and the programs we offer, click here.
5 Things to Know Before Teaching English in Israel">5 Things to Know Before Teaching English in Israel
1. Prepare to Pursue your Passions Speaking of passions, MITF is your chance to pursue (or even find) them! Yes, you’ll be teaching during the week, and you’ll be busy at school. But the day only spans from 8 am-2 pm in most cases. This means every day you can do something to fill your time outside of the classroom. Do you! Make some extra shekels by tutoring your neighbors in English, train for the Tel Aviv marathon, study Ulpan, start a blog, venture out of your city, or find a volunteer opportunity. I worked in one of Petah Tikva’s community gardens and joined the municipality’s Department of Environmental Education team. If you’re coming from University or a rigorous work environment, this ITF year is the biggest blessing you can give yourself… the time to focus on the things that effortlessly make you happy and what drives your passion.
2. Be Aggressive Moving to a new country is hard. It’s not only the verbal language that’s foreign; it’s the nonverbal—hand gestures and sounds are just as much a part of the Hebrew language as words. Miscommunications are inevitable, and the Israeli school system is guaranteed to be unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. Stereotypes are dangerous, and there’s always an exception to the rule, but for the most part, Israelis want things done their way. They tend to raise their voices, but it’s not because they’re yelling at you. They’re just excited and genuinely want to help you. When English isn’t the most efficient medium of communication (with teachers or students), you need to assume a different kind of leadership and find your voice in a creative way. Play the game Israeli style. Assert yourself and don’t be afraid to fight for what you want with persistence and by standing your ground, in the nicest way possible of course, and you’ll earn the respect you deserve.
3. בלגן: Balagan When translated, the word “balagan” comes to mean: mess, disorder, confusion, problems, difficulties. Mesh all of those together and you get the true meaning. Cut and paste this concept into an Israeli school and we’ve got a picture of utter chaos compared to what you’re probably used to. There are no lines when walking from class to class, sometimes not even a cafeteria, no hands are raised (just fingers), schedules are often meaningless, and all the teachers are called “the teacher” or by their first name. Discipline is not in these children’s vocabulary yet. And magically enough, the system works. However, it is your job to stay sane and adapt your teaching style to this new environment you’re in—step outside your comfort zone and create an English game, teach through pop culture, etc. Oh, and you’re about to become your school’s newest celebrity. Expect to be followed by mobs of screaming children, dying to ask if you’re friends with Justin Bieber or if you live in New York City or how much your Pandora bracelet costs. These kids will probably give you headaches, but they’ll also give you hugs and worship the ground you walk on.
4. Hebrew is on You! Okay, so you’re moving to Israel for a whole ten months and will be fully integrating into Israeli culture. You’re obviously going to come home fluent, right? Wrong. Your job is to be an English teacher, which means, no Hebrew in the classroom. You’ll have some Ulpan (Hebrew classes) to brush up your skills no matter what level you’re on, but it’s your job to maintain it. 99.9% of your Hebrew education is outside of Ulpan. Force yourself to communicate in Hebrew as much as possible—learn your vocabulary at the shuk, the mall, the bars, pretty much anywhere. Find a nice Israeli who wants to be your friend and practice your Hebrew on them and they’ll practice their English on you. There’s no osmosis that will magically make you fluent. Seek out opportunities and commit to the language if learning Hebrew is something you’re passionate about!
5. You’ll Fall in Love and Never Want to Leave Not only is this country going to be your new home, but you’re also going to have new friends, new family, a new community, and a new outlook on life. Even if you’re not coming from an educational background as a teacher, you’ll fall in love with your job and the energy was emanating from your students. Staff will be fighting over you to spend a Shabbat with their families, you’ll even get used to the Nescafé in the teacher’s room (which Israelis think replaces a real cup of coffee…it doesn’t). You’ll fall in love with your MITF cohort because they’ll have just been through this whole journey with you and will be the only ones who truly understand how you’re feeling.
Granted there are bound to be ups and downs, good days when you’ve successfully managed a conversation in Hebrew, and you feel like you can conquer the world, bad days when your bus is 20 minutes late, sad days when you’re missing home and the luxuries of dryers, peaceful days when you’re sitting on the beach watching the sunset with your year-long tan, and exciting days when you wake up and one in every 10 days is a holiday… The list goes on and on, but the most important thing you need to know before you become a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow is that the experience is what you choose to make of it, and the possibilities are all at your fingertips. You just need the chutzpah to grab them.
Written by Allison Paisner, Masa Israel Teaching Fellow Alumna
Doing a Masa Israel program is more than just going back after birthright, it’s actually experiencing the REAL Israel. It’s an actual journey! You will make friends from literally all over the world, see and feel things that are not found anywhere else, and you will want to keep coming back for more.
So enough of us trying to convince you to live your life or even get experience for your career, this time we will let our participants show you what this “journey” is all about. Follow these Instagram accounts to get the real deal from food to places you never even knew existed!
Participant: Julie Deutsch
Program: Career Israel
Participant: Kirill Trukhin
Program: Masa Tlalim
Participant: Tatiana Itskova
Program: Betar Mabat
Participant: David Jozef
Program: Top Israel Interns
Participant: Rachel Schwartz
Program: Career Israel
Participant: Ben Slutzky
Program: Israel By Design
Participant: Anastasiia Khodyrieva
Program: PMP Nativ Technion
Participant: Ariel Vainer
Program: Lej Leja
To learn more about Masa Israel and the programs we offer, click here.
4 Ways to Portray Your Israeli Internship in an Interview">4 Ways to Portray Your Israeli Internship in an Interview
An internship in Israel means being thrown to the wolves, in the most beneficial way. You didn’t spend your internship grabbing Starbucks for a stuffy CEO sitting in a 20th-floor office; you spent your internship conducting market research to launch the latest biomedical device to save lives. You were treated more as an equal rather than an intern.
The question is now, how do you communicate your Israel experience to potential employers when you’re back stateside? They may have a slew of questions for you that range from:
*“Why did you choose Israel?”
*“Weren’t you scared of being in the Middle East?”
Be sure your internship in Israel lands you your dream job and excels your career above and beyond.
Follow our guidelines for portraying your Israeli internship effectively in interviews:
1. Be sure to communicate you were more than an intern. Explain to the interviewer that there is no such thing as interns in Israel and when you showed up for your first day of work (whether you’re at a non-profit, startup, or research company) you were treated like a real employee. In Israel, interns get in on the ground floor.
Mention: You were given projects that you were solely responsible for finding the solutions for, you were part of the team and that your feedback on projects and strategies was valued, if your mistake cost the company money or negativity in any way you owned it and also fixed it, and/or your days were spent completing tasks that would determine the company’s future outcomes.
2. Describe, in the depth the Israeli work ethic, which you are now obsessed with. Show your boss that the new Sabra attitude you’ve acquired will be an asset to their team.
Mention: Explain to him that the Israeli mentality of working 10-12 hour days is your new normal, and you’re prepared to stay until the project is completed. Touch on the fact the startup scene in Israel (and almost any company in Israel) has an organizational structure of chaos – but in some crazy way it works. From working in this environment of utter chaos, you know how to manage yourself and set personal goals in any atmosphere to be the most productive.
3. After spending a significant amount of time in Israel you’ve noticed Americans are almost too polite, and you’d rather stick with the “Israeliness” of being direct.
Explain to your potential employer that being in an environment where nothing is ever sugar-coated has heightened your self-confidence and you aren’t scared to share ideas, speak up and voice your opinion.
4. In Israel, the terms “impossible” and “it can’t be done” simply don’t exist.
A great aspect you’ve gained while being in Israel is that you’ve mastered the art of hacking. Going back to point number one, you were never treated as an intern, you were given real projects from day one and figured everything out on your own even if you had no idea what you were doing.
Describe the awesome projects and outcomes you had while interning in Israel – you’ll knock the socks off your interviewers.
Now let’s get into the trickier side of interview questions, like “why would you intern in Israel.”
First, start by explaining that it’s unbelievable for a country that is only 68-years-old to be as advanced in business, technology, healthcare and agriculture as they are. Not to mention that Israel has to be one of the most diverse countries since people from Africa, South America, Europe, Australia and even Asia call it home.
Next, you could point out that the cell phone which you’ve been emailing the potential boss on was invented in Israel, along with the 4G he’s so in love with and the voicemail service the company is currently using is also a product of Israel.
Besides all of this, there’s no better place to dive face first into innovation than the country who built the Startup Nation in a little less than 15 years. Plus, that cherry tomato this guy always gets on his salad, that’s an Israeli invention too.
As I said before, your internship in Israel should take your career above and beyond. Don’t let it go to waste and be sure to highlight the fact you spent time in the land that’s not only flowing with milk and honey but innovation too.
Looking for more specifics on how to portray your Israel experience? Check out our points below:
1. Scenario: You work at an organization that aids African refugees and helps newcomers to Israel find the support they need.
Resume Line: Coordinated projects for international NGO to aid absorption of refugees from Darfur, Eritrea, and Ethiopia.
2. Scenario: You volunteered in low-income immigrant neighborhoods and organized youth group activities.
Resume Line: Coordinate youth groups for 60 at-risk teens in Petach Tikqva to promote healthy relationships and community building.
3. Scenario: You spend four hours each day for the first month of your internship program in an intensive Hebrew course. Five months later, you’re a pro at ordering in restaurants, bargaining in the market, and chatting with the cab drivers.
Resume line: Developed near-fluency in spoken Hebrew within five months, proficient in reading and writing.
4. Scenario: You interned for a start-up and helped with their marketing efforts in launching their newest product.
Resume Line: Created and implemented a social media strategy across multiple platforms to launch XXX’s latest app. Through the product launch, the startup successfully secured venture capital.
5. Scenario: You spent five months interning at Google in the software engineering department
Resume Line: Researched, conceived and developed five software applications to extend and improve on Google’s product offering.
6. Scenario: You spent five months creating blogs and editing photos and videos for an Israeli news site.
Resume Line: One Line Content Associate who wrote daily blogs and edited photos and videos to deliver quality news content to English-speakers in Israel and throughout the world.
7. Scenario: You devoured the internet for information about your employer’s future sales processes.
Resume Line: Identified quality leads and prospects through the company database and conducted independent research and network analysis of competitors.
Written by Andria Kaplan-Aylyarov
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 New York.
Each year we find ourselves turning the pages of the calendar more quickly, and what packed pages they are. Here at Masa Israel we have had yet another amazing year of programming and events, both in Israel and across the globe. Now in our 13th year, we’ve surpassed 120,000 alumni, and have begun a number of great new initiatives.
Take a brief look at the Top 16 Masa Moments of 2016:
1. Make Your Journey Matter Gap Fair
On February 21st we hosted a back-to-campus fair for our Gap Year participants bringing representatives from Israel Advocacy and Jewish campus organizations to show participants the many opportunities available to them when they return from their year in Israel.
2. Samsung Tel Aviv Marathon with #TeamMasa
On 26 February over 100 Masa participants, alumni, organizers, and staff participated in the annual Samsung Tel Aviv Marathon as part of the first ever #Team Masa.
3. Masa L’Maaseh
In March, 40 of our Yeshiva students went on the first Masa L’Maaseh, a four day journey , cosponsored by Yeshiva University and WZO, to explore Israel's ever-changing landscape as they visited places and met people that are driving a positive change in Israeli society, while enjoying an exciting group experience with participants from many different Jewish Studies programs.
4. Yom Hazikaron Ceremony at Latrun
This May 5,000 participants and Masa partners mourned Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terror together at our impactful Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day) Ceremony at Latrun, the largest English language ceremony in Israel.
5. Ventures in the Capitol: JLM Young Professional Night
May 30th over 200 post-college & academic participants gathered at JVP Media Quarter in Jerusalem for a night of professional development sessions with top Israeli professionals, followed by a networking cocktail hour with top Israeli companies.
6. Culture Shuk
With a dozen performers, authors and artists, from legendary author Amos Oz, to Ethiopian hip hop sensation Café Shahor Hazak, 1,000 participants took an inside look at Israeli Culture.
7. Global Program Fairs
From Brazil to Berlin, the UK to Ukraine, our global team of Regional Masa Representatives have spoken to tens of thousands of potential participants at their events and fairs throughout the world.
In partnership with the Genesis Philanthropy Group, Masa takes thousands of Russian-speaking participants on 5 day journeys to explore Israel and Jewish peoplehood and identity through experiencing land, history, and people.
9. Masa Desert Project
This summer part of our Masa Ambassador’s team set up shop in popular Taglit spots Kfar Hanokdim and Han Hashayarot to share with over 750 Taglit-Birthright groups how they can get back to Israel.
10. The Matzpen Program
Focusing on building capacity in the field, our educational department implemented a series of day-long seminars for our program organizers. The curriculum focuses on pedagogical principles, skill building, current trends and issues in the field of education, and best practices for identity building in emerging adults.
11. My Masa Mega Event
Over 3,000 Masa participants gathered in Jerusalem for our annual My Masa event to kick-off our 2016-2017 year of programs. Word on the street is that this was one of the best events yet!
12. MITF Levinsky Teaching Certificate Program
With a class of 18, this October marked the beginning of our new English Teaching Certificate Program for MITF participants in partnership with Israel’s Ministry of Education and Levinsky College.
13. Partnership with The Forward
People are talking about Masa and The Forward decided they want to as well. This year we officially began a partnership with their new lifestyle section, Scribe. Check out 2 articles by Masa participants here and here.
14. JFNA General Assembly
Our alumni delegation networked with GA goers, and helped spread the word about Masa at our awesome expo booth. We also held an inspiring meeting with Natan Sharansky and a very well-attended (and fun!) joint VIP reception with Onward Israel.
15. Masa-GLI Global Leadership Summit & Tracks
This November our Masa-GLI Leadership Accelerator put on another successful Masa-GLI Global Leadership Summit, in Jerusalem, with generous support from the Wilf Family Foundation. We are particularly proud of the growth of the exposure tracks which allow participants to take their training into the field. Here are this year's tracks:
- FSU Participants Masa-GLI Leadership Fellowship, with support by the Genesis Philanthropy Group
- Hillel Masa-GLI Leadership Fellowship
- JFNA Masa-GLI Leadership Fellowship
- WUPJ / HUC-JIR Masa-GLI Leadership Fellowship
- Israel Dialog Masa-GLI Leadership Fellowship
- WeWork Masa-GLI Business & Innovation Leadership Fellowship
- Masa Influencers
16. North America Career Development Delegation
This November our Director of Business Development International, Adi Barel, and Director iof business Development North America, Adi Hila, hosted career development professionals from North American Universities for a week in Israel, taking them to visit various professional development programs, and immerse themselves in the Israeli start-up ecosystem.
Written by Amy Albertson, Creative Content Manager, Masa Israel Journey
Carol Kaplan, Permaculture Design Course Certificate at Kibbutz Lotan and the Shvil Israel with Walk About Love, Alumna ‘12
After spending a semester in Israel a few years ago, I have made the choice to attain my MA in Conflict Resolution and Coexistence under the Heller School of Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University.
Want to know how I got figured this all out? Check out my story or more of a journey below:
It all began at Kibbutz Maagan Michael, where I was fortunate enough to have a great taste of Kibbutz life… on the beach! My new life in Israel was simple; as a group, or newly founded family we walked to the dining hall, אוכל חדר in Hebrew (pronounced hadar ohel) barefoot, enjoyed a heavy Israeli breakfast of cheeses, fresh salads, and warm bread, then rode bikes to Ulpan and later began to our separate work assignments.
Being the animal lover I am, I quickly requested to work in the cow shed, רֶפֶת in Hebrew (pronounced refet) and fell in love with newborn baby calves on my first day at work.
After herding the cows, I rode my bike to the sea, ים in Hebrew (pronounced yam), where the expert Kibbutzim surfers showed off their mad surf skills to us newbies. There, my thoughts dwelled on the simplicity of life in a small but beautiful Israeli community.
Upon completing Ulpan, I then traveled to Kibbutz Lotan, leaving behind the beach and transitioning to the beauty of the silent desert. It was here that I would begin my studies to obtain my Permaculture Design Course Certificate that I hoped to translate into my degree back at the University of Washington.
While living in a mud geodesic dome, I learned about sustainability and the possibility of not only growing organic food in the desert, but thriving in the desert sun. Of course, my favorite time of the week was harvest day, when my group and I would make full meals out of fresh vegetables we had just harvested. There’s nothing quite comparable to harvesting and cooking together after a long day’s work building mud structures!
After my time at Kibbutz Lotan, I then joined a group called Walk About Love, traveling, living and sleeping the Negev, all the way from Eilat to Jerusalem. It was myself and people from Germany, Spain, Sweden, the Americas and Israelis all coming together. Like our forefathers before us, we used rocks as a pillow, stared at the hot hot sun and cried with happiness upon reaching Jerusalem.
It was at the end of my journey, after such a diverse experience throughout the country, that I realized Israel and I are inextricably tied. It was not just a country I was exploring; it was MY country I was exploring, not out of curiosity but out of devotion.
For how could I help a country I had not touched with my own hands, walked with my own feet and viewed with my own eyes? I now feel truly ready and capable to learn about the creation of peace in a country so disheveled but at the same time vibrant and humane, which takes me back to the beginning of all of this and what’s landed me at Brandeis years later to get my MA in Conflict Resolution and Coexistence.
These last few years have been an amazing time of my life and without Israel I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am.
I learned more in my five months in Israel than I did in all four years of college. My parents don’t enjoy hearing this (sorry Mom and Dad!). Of course, college was incredibly valuable in many ways. But you learn by experiencing, and I have never experienced more than I did through Masa Israel.
Masa Israel is one of those beautiful organizations whose sole purpose is to give: to give money, to give awareness, and to give the beauty of connecting with your heritage and a story that goes back thousands of years. They want to invest in you, and they go above and beyond to do so.
One of the most important things I was given was a deeper understanding of Israel. My Masa Israel program, Career Israel, did an especially impressive job of exposing us to all different aspects of Israeli society. We heard from politicians on the left and on the right, Palestinian school children, Ethiopian community leaders, religious scholars, leading army figures, and African asylum seekers, just to name a few.
I was continually amazed by the vast array of opinions and knowledge, and my program’s willingness to show us Israel’s strengths and weaknesses. Masa Israel also gave me several other opportunities, one of which was my internship with Innovation: Africa. Innovation: Africa brings Israeli solar technology to African villages, using the principle of Tikkun Olam, or repairing the world, as its guiding force. My colleagues at Innovation: Africa were generous in their willingness to teach and guide me, they also entrusted me with a huge deal of responsibility.
I worked on several research projects, as well as the organization’s social media and donor outreach. I also attended several conferences, where I learned how Israel’s incredible start-up industry and culture of innovation was applied to the humanitarian sector. These included the Israeli-California Water Partnership , IsraAID’s seminar on Haiti’s post-earthquake development, and a competition involving inventions geared towards improving the quality of life in Africa. The uniqueness of these experiences and the skills I learned, helped me land my current job.
Through their Global Leadership Institute, Masa Israel gave me exposure to Diaspora Jewry and the ability to tap into the incredible potential of our upcoming generation. My first experience with GLI was the Global Leadership Summit, a week-long conference where we explored the concept of adaptive leadership. The quality of speakers and seminars was unbelievable, and I gained incredible knowledge and insight.
Masa Israel was very intentional about having participants from every different background, and I walked away with friends from Brazil, Argentina, Ukraine, Russia, England, and France, just to name a few. Masa gave us the opportunity to turn our thoughts into action at the GLI Shabbaton, where we reunited with friends and discussed our role in tackling the challenges that face global Jewry.
These experiences allowed me to learn, discuss, and connect with many special people. I think back on them often, and I also find myself talking about Israel frequently. Sometimes it’s about one of these experiences, but usually, it turns into me urging someone to go, to just do it, and not to worry because Masa Israel will help you make it happen.
Most people politely nod their heads at my insistence. They can tell the enormity of the impact it has had on me, but can’t quite understand the magic of it. As much as I want to be able to explain, I can’t. So thank you Masa Israel, for allowing me this experience that was so incredible it became unexplainable. And to whoever is reading this, don’t just nod your head. Go, just do it, and experience the unexplainable magic for yourself.
Julie Katz is a Career Israel 2015 – 2016 Alumna who currently resides in Marietta, GA.
Inside Tel Aviv University's Study Abroad + Internship Program with Dana Sherman">Inside Tel Aviv University's Study Abroad + Internship Program with Dana Sherman
My experience at Tel Aviv University was incomparable to any other internship or abroad experience I had in the past. I spent seven months living in Tel Aviv, in which both the semester abroad and internship portion exposed me to new and exciting aspects of Israeli life, culture, society, and religion.
I chose to study abroad in Tel Aviv for a specific reason. Ever since my first visit to Israel in 2011, I have been curious about the intricacies that plague Israel's political, social, and economic sectors. In 2011 when I traveled to Israel with a youth group, we were brought to Rothschild Boulevard to see the social justice protests taking place. For miles, we saw tents, makeshift houses, posters, and protesters. I recognized that Israel was not just a state that I was expected to love as a Jew, but rather had real issues affecting the livelihoods of its citizens, whether they were Jewish, Muslim, or anything else. As I study criminal justice and international affairs at the George Washington University in D.C., I am interested in learning about how different judicial and political systems affect civil societies advancements in modern culture. Therefore, studying abroad in the modern, flourishing city of Tel Aviv seemed like my best option.
After a five month semester at Tel Aviv University, I was able to take many classes in Israeli politics, Middle Eastern history, and Hebrew from a wide range of professors. My understanding of the paradoxical dynamics of Israeli society expanded more than I expected. Towards the end of the semester, I landed an internship at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies; a think tank that produces policy-relevant research and recommendations on national security and foreign policy as it relates to Israel and Middle Eastern issues. I worked as a Research Assistant for the director of the center, Efraim Inbar. At my internship, I independently contributed to three separate projects regarding Australian-Israeli relations, Abu Mazen's current standing in the PA, and Israel's interest in the Chinese economy. I participated in international conferences, table talks, and strategic tours in the West Bank and on IDF bases. My experience with the Begin-Sadat Center was remarkable. Choosing to stay in Tel Aviv this summer and work for a company in a country that has so much to offer in my field of study was the best decision I could have made.
My seven months living in Tel Aviv surpassed any previous experience I ever had. Leaving America in January and knowing I would not be home until late July seemed like a long time to be away from friends and family, but looking at the big picture and seeing everything I gained from this experience, I could do it for another seven months. I recommend the semester and summer internship program to anyone who is willing to step out of their comfort zone just a little bit and trust the people of Israel to take them in, teach them, and help show them what they can accomplish in such a short period. I'm grateful and thankful for the friends I made, the professors who educated me, and my colleagues who taught me.
Written by Dana Sherman, Tel Aviv University Alumna '16
Sage Paquette-Cohen has always wanted to make a difference. Inspired by the mission of Masa Israel, Sage traveled to Tel Aviv for 10 months after graduating from Emerson College. Through Tikkun Olam Tel Aviv-Yafo, she interned at a pre-school for children with disabilities that focused on serving Arab and Jewish Israeli students equally from a young age. Working with her students fueled Sage’s passion to end social inequities. After coming home to the U.S., Sage joined the 2016 Teach For America Greater New Orleans corps as a high school special education teacher. Because of her experiences leading and teaching in Israel, Sage came into the classroom ready to lead with confidence.
Q: I’d love to hear more about your path to Teach For America. How did you decide to join Masa Israel? And what was your path to Teach For America?
A: I wasn’t super religious, so going to Israel didn’t immediately occur to me. However, TIkkun Olam is one of Masa’s more liberal and politically motivated organizations, which aligned with what I wanted to do. I started applying to TFA during my time in Israel. I had friends going to grad school, but I couldn’t go back to studying or sitting in a library after doing this work for communities in need. I was working in an incredible classroom that served the students so profoundly, and I wanted to continue that impact in an underserved American school.
Q: How have your personal life experiences shaped your career path?
A: I started out wanting to work in healthcare. In college, I worked in a Speech and Hearing Clinic on campus with three and four-year-olds. Through that experience, my love for working with children with special needs blossomed. I was able to build relationships and assure families that their kids could have a future they had never imagined.
Q: How did you grow personally and professionally through your service with Masa Israel?
A: I had just graduated from college and moved to a country on my own. My only choice was to grow up quickly. I learned about global issues that had never occurred to me living in Maine or Boston. The experience forced me to think a lot about the race, class, and equity issues that exist in the U.S.
Q: How did your service with Masa Israel prepare you to be a leader with Teach For America?
A: Being in Israel forced me out of my comfort zone and set me up to be prepared for that in the future. I was often the only white person and English speaker in a room. I don’t think I would have been as prepared to enter a classroom before my experience in Israel.
Q: What has been your biggest inspiration to continue in the fight to end educational inequity?
A: I taught two four-year old Arab boys in Israel who had severe disabilities. They made a lot of progress in the 10 months I worked with them. They were both from very poor backgrounds, and because of their minority status in Israel, would not have received those services from such a young age if they lived in a lot of communities that TFA serves. It dawned on me quickly that the need in the U.S. is so severe. Those boys were able to shine, but it was because they were given a chance.
Are you ready to change the world? Apply now for various volunteer programs in Israel.