As an undergraduate student at Penn State, Ashley Gold first traveled to Israel with Birthright and decided she needed to return. “I always knew I wanted to study abroad—and I had already been to Europe,” says Ashley. “Then after Birthright, there was nowhere else I wanted to spend an extended period of time but Israel.”
Through Masa Israel’s program at Tel Aviv University, Ashley, an English and international studies major and journalism minor, took courses in Hebrew, Israeli art, creative writing, and the history of Tel Aviv, which included walking tours around the city.
“On Birthright, you see that Israel is amazing, but you get a small view of the country,” says Ashley. “I came back to expand on that view, and learned a ton that I never realized—that Israel is a developed country that isn’t just a melting pot of Jewish culture but has a unique Israeli culture.” Through a column in the Jewish Chronicle of Pittsburgh, Ashley was able to share her findings with her community on a regular basis.
While frequenting Tel Aviv restaurants and hanging out in the city, Ashley and her friends had no trouble meeting and befriending Israelis. “I love that they have a relaxed attitude, but that they’re also really hard workers and motivated,” says Ashley. During her months in Israel, there were a ton of Jewish holidays that Ashley celebrated like an Israeli. During Yom Hazikaron, she headed to Mount Herzl for a
ceremony. “The prime minister gave a speech and families with sons and daughters who were soldiers were there,” said Ashley. “I never thought I’d be able to have that kind of experience.” Though Ashley chose to leave Israel for Passover—attending a seder in Prague—she said that one of her strongest memories is how happy she was to return to Israel after the short break.
When Ashley returned to Penn State, she enrolled in a course about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and continued to read The Jerusalem Post and Ha’aretz each day. At an internship at the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Ashley was assigned a few opinion pieces about Israel. Following her
graduation from Penn State, Ashley got a job as a metro reporter at the Reading Eagle. Excited about her new job, she still looks forward to returning to Israel. “My room is filled with art from Shuk HaCarmel and a tapestry from Jerusalem,” Ashley says. “These will never not be in my room. They are mementos from my time in Israel that I carry with me wherever I go.”