The Oddest of Couples

<div class="masa-blog-title">The Oddest of Couples</div>

By Anna Kaminsky, Hebrew University
I spent the best six months of my life studying at the Masa Israel-accredited Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The things I did, the things I learned, the people I met – I will never forget any of it. But one of the things I will cherish most is the friendship I developed with a guy named Ghassan.
Ghassan is a year and a half younger than me but you would never know it.

Striving for a New Israel Education

<div class="masa-blog-title">Striving for a New Israel Education</div>

Like most American Jews of my generation, my first encounters with Israel were cultural. 
I saw pictures of people reading the newspaper while floating in the Dead Sea. 
I wrote notes to be placed in the Western Wall. 

An Unexpected Israel

<div class="masa-blog-title">An Unexpected Israel</div>

By Becki Levant, University of Haifa
When I decided to study abroad, I knew I wanted an experience that was more exotic than the usual study abroad options Europe offered. 
So, I chose Israel. 
After a long flight and an adventurous taxi ride, I arrived at the Masa Israel-accredited University of Haifa. 
Tired and jet-lagged, I entered

Israel: As Real As It Gets

<div class="masa-blog-title">Israel: As Real As It Gets</div>

By Leah Boresow, DanceJerusalem
Since age three, dance has been my greatest passion.  
As a dance major at Indiana University, I’ve happily devoted most of my energy to dance.  But when I had the experience of a lifetime during my first trip to Israel in 2009, I was intent on finding a way to merge my love for dance with my new interest in Israel.

The Whole Picture


Hear participants talk about their daily life, take a virtual tour of your favorite program, and watch your semester of year in Israel unfold in front of you


Masa Israel Alumni: Israel Update Webinar with Avi Mayer

Masa Israel Alumni: Israel Update Webinar with Avi Mayer

November 21, 2012 - 12:00

  Online  - 

Avi Mayer, Director of New Media at the Jewish Agency for Israel, will give a briefing on the current situation to Masa Israel alumni.
To join the online meeting=
2. If requested, enter your name and email address. 
3. If a password is required, enter the meeting password: Shalom18 
4. Click "Join". 
To view in other time zones or languages, please click here
To join the audio conference only 
Call-in toll number (US/Canada): 1-650-479-3208 
Access code:809 412 322 
For assistance 
2. On the left navigation bar, click "Support". 

Masa Israel Journey Volunteers from Around the World Join Israel's Public Diplomacy Efforts

Masa Israel Journey Volunteers from Around the World Join Israel's Public Diplomacy Efforts

Masa Israel Journey Volunteers from Around the World Join Israel's Public Diplomacy Efforts

November 19, 2012

By Margot Saffer
On Monday, November 19th, The Jewish Agency for Israel and Masa Israel Journey opened an International New Media Center in Jerusalem which isstaffed by volunteers from around the world who are participating in Masa programs. 
The center will allow the volunteers to share their personal experiences of living in Israel under rocket fire with people aroundP the world through social media, in multiple languages.
The volunteers were briefed by the Jewish Agency’s Head of Social Media, Avi Mayer, on Israeli public diplomacy efforts and on the use of social media to get one’s message across. Members of the local and international media also reported on the opening of the Center and interviewed the volunteers, with several additional news outlets - IBA news in English, Channel 1 in Arabic, Kol Israel Radio, and Ha'aretz among them – due to visit Tuesday. 
Benjamin Dannenberg, a volunteer on the Israel Teaching Fellows program from Connecticut in the U.S. said: “It feels great to contribute in some way, if not to the IDF, then to the state of Israel. We came to volunteer in some capacity. Since we can’t teach now, this is a great way to broaden our message to the world.” 
The volunteers come from English, Spanish, Russian and French- speaking countries and are workingin various capacities through Masa, volunteering as English teachers in Israeli schools (ITF – Israel Teaching Fellows) and interning in various government offices (Israel Government Fellows (IGF), and Real Life Israel). Manymembers of the group are living in Be'erSheva and Ashdod where, over recent weeks, they have experienced how difficult life is for residents of southern Israel living under rocket fire.
Josh Neuman is a 22-year-old graduate of Penn State University where he studied Political Science and History. It was his experience volunteering at an arts and sciences day camp for elementary school children that made him choose the ITFtrack of the Masa Israel Journey program. 
He tells of how, last Sunday, he was teaching an elementary school in Be’erSheva when a siren was sounded. He had to evacuate his students from the second floor to the basement, even having to carry a young girl who was too shocked to run. “I consider myself to be mentally tough, but seeing these children crying and praying and hugging each other for comfort, I almost lost it. But I had to keep it together for the children’s sake.” 
Josh said he became extremely angered by the ignorance of the international media, which he had not until that point understood as clearly. He feels that no children anywhere should undergo the kind of trauma endured as a matter of course by the kids in southern Israel. He began his own campaign to update his community back in the Bay Area. “I joined this initiative of the Masa program because I want to help create a network that ensures the flow of truth – of both sides of the story – and maybe balance out the tides of the media war – which is the war itself! Half the battle is won with the support.”
Deborah, a Brazilian from Masa's Real Life Israel program, agrees. She has secured a live interview on Tuesday with the largest radio station in Brazil, in which she intends to share "the real story."
Meghan, 21, from Paris, also wants to convey to her friends and family back home the Israel that she has discovered since her internship with IGF started three months ago. She graduated from The Sorbonne with a degree in History and Political Science, and is now volunteering at Israel's Ministry of Environmental Protection. 
On her social media streams, she finds it difficult to bridge the gap between being accused of being blindly pro-Israel, and conveying what she has personally experienced to be true. “I need to stay. I need to show them [back home] what is happening. I am not going to change my plans because of this. They [the terrorists] will not win.”
Meghan was walking with a friend in Jaffa last Shabbat when they heard the Code Red siren. She saw the missile explode after it was intercepted by the Iron Dome. Her terrified mother told Meghan that she had booked a ticket for her to come back to France. 
But she told her mom that she feels safe. “We trust the country,” added Meghan. 
The International New Media Centre is being opened in coordination with the National Information Directorate, the Foreign Ministry, and the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit. The volunteers will use social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and web comments, among others.Masa Israel Journey is a joint project of The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Government of Israel.  Participants spend 5-10 months in Israel and can choose from a wide range of programs involving volunteer work, studying or professional internships.  Over 10,000 young Jews from 60 countries participate in Masa programs each year. Graduates become" ambassadors" for Israel upon their return to their home countries.

Update from Masa Israel: Community Hotline Established

Update from Masa Israel: Community Hotline Established

November 19, 2012

The safety and security of Masa Israel Journey program participants, staff and partners is our top priority.
As a joint project of the Government of Israel and the Jewish Agency for Israel, Masa Israel programs receive updated information regularly from the Israeli Home Front Command regarding safety and security and are able to respond to official recommendations. Our staff continues to be in touch with every Masa Israel program to ensure information is shared effectively and to assist as needed.
As Operation Pillar of Defense began this past week, the Israeli Home Front Command issued an advisory for individuals within a forty kilometer radius of the Gaza Strip. Masa Israel Journey has maintained direct contact with programs operating in the South of Israel and has assisted in relocating participants to Tel Aviv and further north. All Masa Israel program participants based in the South have been relocated outside of the 40 kilometer radius. 
Over the last few days, additional areas of Israel have been affected by rocket fire and Masa Israel Journey continues to be in close and continuous contact with all of its programs and with the Home Front Command to monitor the situation. We will make additional policy decisions as needed per the instructions given by Israeli Home Front Command.
We are instructing all Masa Israel programs to update participants regularly regarding security and safety procedures and to ensure access to shelters in case of civil defense alarms. Masa Israel is also working with program directors to make psychological and educational resources available as needed.
We are encouraging all programs to help participants communicate with their families. Masa Israel has established a hotline for parents, family and community members needing assistance contacting participants or other information. If you need assistance connecting with a family or community member who is on a Masa Israel program, please call: 
6 am EST -  3pm EST (Israel Office) 
1-866-864-3279 / +972-2-621-6049
3pm EST - 11pm EST (New York Office)
These are difficult days for Israel and for Jewish communities around the world. Masa Israel is committed to ensuring a safe and secure Israel experience for all of our participants, not only during these difficult days, but year-round.
Please feel free to be directly in touch with us with any questions or concerns.
Thank you for your continued support.