New Yorker lays foundation for architecture career through Israel internship

<div class="masa-blog-title">New Yorker lays foundation for architecture career through Israel internship </div>

 
Graduating with a Masters degree in architecture from Tulane University in 2008, Jesse Zryb entered a terrible economy.  After losing his job in New York City, he decided to enroll in Masa Israel’s Career Israel.  “I could have stayed at home and experienced five months of uncertainty.  But instead, I decided to participate in a program that would allow me to gain valuable work experience and further explore Israel,” says Jesse.
 
 

Celebrate like a local: festivals during Sukkot

<div class="masa-blog-title">Celebrate like a local: festivals during Sukkot </div>

 
Growing up, you might have celebrated Sukkot by going to your family, friends’, or synagogue’s sukkah, shaking the lulav and etrog, and eating outside under the stars. But if you are spending this Sukkot in Israel, there’s no reason to stay confined to your backyard—use the whole country as your sukkah!
 

The Chagim Chronicles: Shana Tova

<div class="masa-blog-title">The Chagim Chronicles: Shana Tova</div>

By Lena Glaser, Career Israel
 
Rosh Hashana in Israel…definitely not what a normal American Jew is used to. However; due to my secular/hippie take on Judaism upbringing, I was ready for it!
 
I spent the first night at my friend Adar’s family’s Kibbutz, Kibbutz Ruhama. I have never been to a Kibbutz before, so the experience was doubly exciting.
 

Not your average internship: It’s prompted a whole new life

<div class="masa-blog-title">Not your average internship: It’s prompted a whole new life</div>

By Uri Snyder, Career Israel
 
Not long ago, I was one of those millions of young Americans who found themselves without a job after graduation. So I pursued an internship, which has become a critical step toward professional development for my generation.
 

7 unique ways to spend the chagim in Israel

<div class="masa-blog-title">7 unique ways to spend the chagim in Israel</div>

 
Every time we ask alumni of Masa Israel program what the best part of their semester or year was in Israel, the same things are repeated over and over: freedom to explore Israel on their own, Yom Ha’atzmaut (Independence Day) and the other national holidays in the spring, and the chagim—the High Holidays.
 
It’s no wonder. To experience the chagim in Israel, the only Jewish state in the world, is like no other holiday experience. Whether you plan on participating in the religious aspects of the holidays, taking it all in as an observer, or stepping outside your comfort zone and experimenting with a new way of observance, there is nothing like being in Israel for the high holiday season.
 
Here are seven ways Masa Israel participants celebrate the chagim in Israel:
 
  1. Shul-hopping Celebrating the holidays at home usually means a synagogue membership, tickets, and sometimes even assigned seats. Not so in Israel—try out erev Rosh Hashana in one shul, and head across town for Kol Nidre. Each synagogue has a unique atmosphere, and with so many close together in Israel you don’t need to settle for just one.
  2. Get placed with a host family Programs can usually set you up with a hosts family for one of the holidays. That way, you can celebrate the holidays in Israel with them, and they can help you navigate new traditions and show you a uniquely Israeli high holiday experience
  3. Participate in Kaparot Performed right before Yom Kippur, the ritual of Kaparot involves taking a chicken and swinging it over your head while saying several blessings, thereby imparting all of your sins upon it. Head to your closest shuk to take part in this tradition.
  4. Go on a Selichot tour Selichot are prayers of repentance that occur before the onset of the Jewish New Year.  These prayers are said at night usually between 11pm and dawn, and Jews of different backgrounds have different practices. Some programs offer tours around neighborhoods of Jerusalem the night before Yom Kippur to see different traditions in action.
  5. Walk on an empty highway on Yom Kippur In Israel, nobody drives on Yom Kippur—not even secular Israelis. Walking around your city or town on Yom Kippur is an experience like none other, an probably the only time you will ever be able to sit in the middle of a major highway (see picture below). You can also take advantage of the lack of traffic by joining in with the local teenagers who will be out on their bikes.
  6. Head to the Kotel for Birkat Kohanim Being in Israel for the chagim gives you the opportunity to go to what is considered the holiest site for the Jewish people on the holiest days of the year. During Sukkot, kohanim (descendants of the priests of Israel) come together to bless the Jewish people. Many Masa Israel participants have described it as an extremely moving experience.
  7. Festivals With all the time off, you have ample opportunity to check out some of the music and cultural festivals that take place around Sukkot. They are a great way to explore the country and get a taste of Israel culture.
 
The holidays are one of the bests times to be in Israel, and this list barely scratches the surface of what it is like to spend the season in Israel. But don’t take our word for it—try it for yourself!
 
[image credit: RonAlmog]
 

Searching for connection in a complex land

<div class="masa-blog-title">Searching for connection in a complex land</div>

 
By Daniel Rotman, Career Israel, Toronto, Canada
 
My first images of Israel are from TV clips during the Intifada in 2001: Israeli gunships were shown hovering over modern day ruins.  This was all I knew of the land that my parents had defended in their teens and left soon after for a different life in Canada.
 

From Hollywood to Tel Aviv, learning how to make a difference

<div class="masa-blog-title">From Hollywood to Tel Aviv, learning how to make a difference</div>

By Arielle Miller, Teach and Study Program (TASP), Los Angeles
 
After graduating from UC Berkeley and traveling to Israel with Birthright Israel, I knew that while I needed more time in Israel, I also needed to start developing my career.
 

What do you do with a degree in archaeology, anyway?

<div class="masa-blog-title">What do you do with a degree in archaeology, anyway?</div>

 
By Hannah Heller, Career Israel, West Windsor, NJ
 
After graduating from Wellesley College last June with a double major in Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology and Jewish Studies, I knew I wanted to pursue a graduate degree in the arts, but I also knew I needed some work experience to help me define my specific path.
 

“I wanted to experience more out of Israel”

<div class="masa-blog-title">“I wanted to experience more out of Israel”</div>

 
By Aaron Sholin, San Francisco, CA, WUJS Israel Hadassah
 
Many American Jews come to Israel for short visits on Birthright and other similar programs. I, too, have done that, and enjoyed it, but somewhere along the way, I realized that I wanted to experience more of Israel.
 

From Israel to Rwanda, pursuing social justice

<div class="masa-blog-title">From Israel to Rwanda, pursuing social justice</div>

 
By Rachel Olstein, Hebrew University of Jerusalem MA in Community Leadership & Philanthropy Studies, Boston
 
It was only as an adult, working in the non-profit sector, that I at last discovered my real place in the Jewish community – a place that combines my passion for social justice with my love of Jewish values and the State of Israel.
 
Three years ago, fueled by a desire to arm myself with management skills for this career, I enrolled in an Israel-based