USY to BGU: Staying connected to Israel by studying abroad

<div class="masa-blog-title">USY to BGU: Staying connected to Israel by studying abroad</div>

By Joel Portman, St. Louis, MO, Ben Gurion University of the Negev Year Program
In 2005, I traveled to Poland and Israel with United Synagogue Youth (USY).  The five weeks I spent in Israel were some of the best of my life.  But the experience I’d had wasn’t enough:  I wanted more, and I knew I would have to return.

Bringing beauty to others while studying abroad in Israel

<div class="masa-blog-title">Bringing beauty to others while studying abroad in Israel </div>

By Laura Marder, University of Haifa
You know you had an unbelievable study abroad experience when it’s time to leave and you’re in a state of shock because your year flew by, exceeding every single one of your expectations. Sounds too good to be true?

Play by Masa Israel alumna to be featured in NY Fringe International Festival

<div class="masa-blog-title">Play by Masa Israel alumna to be featured in NY Fringe International Festival</div>

Abraham's Daughters, written by Masa Israel Journey alum, Elissa Lerner, is a new play featured at this summer's New York Fringe International Festival. The play tells the story of the intersection between college and religion in a way that many of us can relate to.
The plot begins on the first day of freshman year with Sarah waiting for her roommate to arrive.

Dialogue in the desert: Studying abroad at Ben Gurion University

<div class="masa-blog-title">Dialogue in the desert: Studying abroad at Ben Gurion University</div>

While helping female Bedouin teenagers prepare for English college entrance exams through Masa Israel at Ben Gurion University (BGU) in the Negev in August 2008, I met Nesma.  In the coming weeks, I tutored Nesma in English by using Hebrew and Arabic to explain English vocabulary or grammatical constructions.  Despite our religious, cultural, and national

10 Reasons You Should Spend a Semester in Israel

<div class="masa-blog-title">10 Reasons You Should Spend a Semester in Israel</div>

Even if you always planned to study abroad, you may begin to think that taking a whole semester away from your friends and classes is a little too daunting, and consider studying abroad for a summer session instead. But a semester abroad will give you a significantly different experience than a month or two over the summer. Is this really a trade-off you want to make?

How to navigate your university’s study abroad policy

<div class="masa-blog-title">How to navigate your university’s study abroad policy</div>

If you're thinking about studying abroad this coming Spring, why not use free time you have this summer to begin doing your research? Once you start school again in the Fall, deadlines will come up faster than you think. So, instead of cramming it all in then, follow some necessary steps this summer to lay the groundwork for your semester abroad.
Choose your location
"Focus on what's good for you personally and academically," says Dr.

The road less traveled: studying abroad at Ben Gurion University of the Negev

The 'ABC's of going abroad | Weekly Roundup

<div class="masa-blog-title">The 'ABC's of going abroad | Weekly Roundup </div>

A collection of updates covering the intersection of Israel programs, the Jewish world, and international education.
  •  We were recently featured in a series on ABC News about going abroad as an alternative to facing the challenging job market in the US.

Masa Israel Invests in US-Israeli University Partnerships

Masa Israel Invests in US-Israeli University Partnerships

May 13, 2010

Masa Israel is excited to announce the launch of a new capacity-building initiative to encourage study abroad and academic exchange in Israel.
Currently, Israel ranks 22nd out of the top 25 study abroad destinations for students from the United States, according to the Institute of International Education’s (IIE) 2009 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange. In addition, while the number of American students who spent a semester or year abroad increased 8.5 percent in 2007-08 from the year before, those who chose to study in Israel still made up only .9 percent of the total.
Israel has traditionally been a leader in the study of Jewish topics, the Middle East, archeology, and the like, but it is also a global leader in innovation in many of today’s most relevant fields, including technology, healthcare, the environment, and business. Today’s college students have a wider range of interests they want to pursue during their studies abroad and Masa Israel’s new grants will enable both home and host institutions to deepen their educational partnership to directly meet the needs of these students.
American students often prefer to study abroad through university-sponsored overseas programs, which (until now) have not always included Israel as an option. The hope is that by offering these grants to American universities, it will encourage study abroad in Israel by increasing the number of programs available to students through their home institutions. These partnerships will offer students the full support of their home institutions by helping them more easily meet prerequisites and by facilitating a seamless transfer of credits for their studies in Israel to their home university.
The new grant initiative marks a significant investment in Israel as a study abroad destination. The grant program will focus on creating targeted academic opportunities in Israel in majors such as business, environmental studies, engineering, psychology, the arts, law, medicine, and other subjects that are generally neglected in study abroad curricula.
Several prestigious universities, including Harvard, the University of Maryland and the University of Miami have already established pilot programs at Israeli institutions. In addition to providing them with financial support, Masa Israel will work closely with each institution’s study abroad office and partner institution in Israel in marketing and recruiting students nationally and on their home campus.
For more information, contact:
Daniel Schuval
Director of Academic Programs, Masa Israel Journey

Sharansky Addresses Masa Israel Participants

Sharansky Addresses Masa Israel Participants

Sharansky Addresses Masa Israel Participants

May 10, 2010

The following is an update from the Jewish Agency for Israel
Ian Carchman was disconnected from Jewish life.
But Masa Israel Journey changed all of that. “Living in Israel for a year has been an eye opener,” said the 18-year-old from Maryland, who came to Israel
“I never really felt a connection [to Jewish life]. My parents are not connected and I grew up in an interfaith community. I think Masa is so important because it is not a trip or a vacation. We’re living here,” said Carchman who has been spending the year on Nativ, a Masa program that is dedicated to inspiring Conservative Jewish leaders.
Carchman was one of over 3,000 participants who attended the Masa Israel Journey mega-conference in Jerusalem on May 2, 2010, a day-long event featuring seminars on “next steps” for participants, many of whom are preparing to leave Israel and return to their Jewish communities across the globe. The event also featured addresses by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky.
Founded by the Jewish Agency and the Government of Israel in 2003, Masa Israel enables young Diaspora Jews to experience life in Israel for a semester or a year on any of over 160 programs aimed at strengthening their Jewish identity and their connection to Israel. Since its inception, Masa Israel has brought 45,000 young Jews between the ages of 18-30 from 60 different countries to live, work, study and volunteer in Israel.
During his address to an auditorium of over 1,000 Masa participants, Sharansky stressed the importance of a strong Jewish identity, which empowered him during his years as a Soviet dissident, including nine years incarcerated in a Soviet prison.
“People with absolutely no roots have no strength,” said Sharansky. “My fight for my people comes from my identity. Once I discovered my roots, my people, my identity, I had the strength to fight.”
Such a strong sense of Jewish identity will fortify Masa participants who are headed to university campuses where anti-Israel feelings are wide-spread.
“Those of you who decide not to stay in Israel but to go back have a very important mission. We expect you to be proud ambassadors of our country, proud Jews, who know how to debate and how to stand up against hooligans. You must know the facts and you should not be afraid,” said Sharansky.
Sharansky also dismantled the prevalent notion on college campuses that a commitment Jewish identity is in conflict with a commitment to human rights. “They are going to try to convince you that you have to choose between being loyal to humanity or loyal to Israel, and this is a false choice. If you want to be a strong supporter of human rights then first you must be a proud member of the Jewish community,” he said.
“Look who is fighting on the forefront of the struggle between democracy and dictatorship, it is the state of Israel and the Jews who are proud of this state,” Sharansky continued. “As the Jews of the Diaspora become stronger in their identity when they are exposed to Israel, the Jews of Israel will also become stronger in their identity when they are engaged with Jews of the Diaspora. The goal of the Jewish Agency is to be a bridge between Jews of the world and Israel.”
Sharansky concluded his talk by crediting Masa Israel with doing “critical work.”
For his part, Carchman agrees. “We will take these experiences back to campus with us and to our communities,” he said.