Florida Jewish Journal: Masa Israel was a life-changing trip for participant

Florida Jewish Journal: Masa Israel was a life-changing trip for participant

Florida Jewish Journal: Masa Israel was a life-changing trip for participant

July 18, 2016

By Sergio Carmona

 

Kenneth Hice of Palmetto Bay had a life-changing experience in Israel that shaped his connection to his Judaism more than two years ago.

Hice was a participant of Masa Israel Teaching Fellows (MITF), a program that brings American Jews to Israel to gain valuable teaching experience as they help to close Israel's achievement gap by teaching English to Israeli students. It is a 10-month service-learning fellowship for high-achieving Jewish college graduates ages 21 to 30 and allows these young professionals to gain international teaching and social work experience in Israel.

 

Before participating at MITF a couple of years ago, Hice had very little connection to Judaism and his Jewish identity. However, by the end of his 10-month trip in Israel, he had a much stronger sense of his place in the Jewish world,and even learned Hebrew while there.

 

"It definitely was life-changing," Hice said about the trip. "To be honest, I had never been to a bar mitzvah or a bat mitzvah. I had never really been to temple or been able to celebrate beyond basic holidays with family and friends. I had never worn a kippah here in the states. However on this trip, I was able to go to the Western Wall multiple times, I was able to converse with rabbis and I was able to really immerse myself in the culture and understand what it exactly meant to be Jewish and do it."

 

Since this experience, Hice said he has become more culturally Jewish.

 

"I've been to a few Shabbat dinners since my experience in Israel where before this experience I might have been to a total of two in my life," he said. "I've had positive connections with people who I met overseas and I now have more understanding of when Jewish holidays start where before I most likely wouldn't have done much to celebrate and understand what they mean. Now I know the background of the holidays and what it means to celebrate them."

 

Tamar Zilbershatz, director of Gap & Service Programs for Masa Israel Journey, said about Hice's participation in the program: "Kenneth's work outside of the classroom engaged students in a fun way to help them learn English better. His dedication and effort were greatly valued by Israeli teachers."

 

MITF is a joint initiative of the Israeli Ministry of Education, Masa Israel Journey and The Jewish Agency for Israel. Masa Israel Journey is a project of the Government of Israel and the Jewish Agency for Israel and is made possible through the contributions of the Jewish Federations of North America and Keren Hayesod-UIA.

 

Originally published in the South Florida Sun Sentinel. 

The Jerusalem Post: A modern Orthodox born-and-bred New Yorker getting the job done in the IDF

The Jerusalem Post: A modern Orthodox born-and-bred New Yorker getting the job done in the IDF

The Jerusalem Post: A modern Orthodox born-and-bred New Yorker getting the job done in the IDF

July 14, 2016

By Marion Fischel

 

But it was while she was on her Masa Israel “gap year” program at Midreshet Ein Hanatziv (on Kibbutz Ein Hanatziv, near Beit She’an), which encourages its graduates to contribute to the state and to the advancement of Jewish society, that she made up her mind.

The Jewish World: Journey to find the light after darkness

The Jewish World: Journey to find the light after darkness

The Jewish World: Journey to find the light after darkness

July 13, 2016

By Dawn Kassirer

 

Dawn Kassier of Clifton Park recently attended the Masa Israel Journey’s five-month Career Israel internship program in Tel Aviv. She shared with The Jewish World some of her reflections on Masa, and her spiritual journey.

 

Since my mom passed away from cancer my senior year of high school 13 years ago, I have been on a spiritual journey with many obstacles. I am searching for knowledge, wisdom, healing and strength. I have a feeling that a magical energy has brought me back to Israel through a Masa Israel Journey internship program.

 

I am turning 30 this month, and find myself trying to accept that my life may not be what my friends’ lives look like or what society may expect.

 

In 2013, I was gifted with the opportunity to travel to Israel on a 10-day Birthright trip, giving me the chance to experience the country and learn more about the history of our ancestors. It opened my eyes to a land and culture where I felt welcomed.

 

Judaism— A Choice


There are parts of my identity and spirituality that I feel that I neglected for most of my youth.

 

I was fortunate to get close to my grandfather, Abraham, before he passed away two years ago. He and my grandma, Rose, my dad’s parents, were survivors of the Holocaust. I now know there is so much history and culture that I have yet to understand and discover about their journey, fight for liberation, and their resilience.

 

Growing up, I was never forced to practice Judaism and only attended synagogue on holidays with my family a couple times a year. For me, Judaism was a choice. I find myself on this quest to find out more because I want to learn the story, and share how one can overcome the most dark moments to live a full life with compassion and purpose.

 

In January, I decided to return to Israel for some self-discovery and reflection. I now feel I have a greater understanding of myself, my Jewish identity, and my family’s history. I have extended relatives in Israel and developed a better relationship with them, which is important to me. I don’t think I could have fully prepared emotionally or spiritually for what was about to unfold.

 

I learned about adaptive leadership at the Masa Global Leadership Summer in March. The best leaders can work with a team and also step back to figure out how to navigate/solve the tasks at hand. Knowing when to be a leader and how to lead, but also to listen to the environment around you are skills that I picked up at the summit. I will connect with some local Jewish communities and see if I can build some relationships to continue my education of the Jewish culture. My experience with Masa encourages me to live a more traditional Jewish life rather than the more secular one I’ve been living for my whole life.

 

Roller Coaster Of Emotions


Through Masa Israel Journey’s Career Israel program, for the past five months, I have lived, worked, and immersed myself in Israel. I interned in the marketing and communications department of Puzzle Israel, an amazing start-up that brings all aspects of Israel together—culinary experiences, cycling adventures, yoga retreats and history—to give travelers a real customized Israel journey. Puzzle Israel allowed me to combine my passions for fitness, travel, and marketing with a desire to connect the larger world to the amazing country of Israel with all its diversity and history.

 

Being accepted to attend a Holocaust educational trip to Poland as part of the Masa Israel’s leadership program created a roller coaster of emotions for me, but also allowed me to process my own family’s story. We experienced the death and the life in Poland; pre-Shoah, during the war, and life after the darkness. We traveled to Kraków and Warsaw, visited concentration camps, death camps, the ghettos, Jewish community centers, museums, and spoke with old and young Polish Jews.

 

At Auschwitz-Birkenau, I saw the place where millions of Jews and non-Jews were murdered. It was overwhelming to visit this place and hear about how many humans lost their lives. I am grateful for my grandma’s ability and luck to have survived. I feel very sad for all the people that perished. I wanted to know what happened, so I can share my family’s story. We can never forget what happened, but at the same time, I thought about whether my grandparents, if they were alive, would have even wanted me to visit these places where they lost their loved ones.

 

Life-changing


I reflect and think about what is the purpose of people visiting these places. It shows there is a need to see the evidence, a wanting to learn more, and an urge to remember. This was a very special and life-changing experience for me. It is hard to even put into words. I am very grateful I had this opportunity.

 

I have experienced many losses in my life including both of my parents before I was 17 years old, and three of my four grandparents as of last year. Despite these traumatic experiences, I’ve learned to feel the sadness, but not to allow it to become my whole life. It is easy to fall into the pit of darkness and depression. But we must never forget, must keep discovering, and lead with love. I give gratitude to my nana, aunts, uncles, cousins, brother, sister and close friends that continue to support me on my journey.

 

Dawn Kassirer, graduated from the University at Albany-SUNY in 2009 with a communications and business degree. She was an assistant manager at VENT Fitness in Clifton Park and a coach for its nutritional systems. She will stay in this area, she reports, at least until the fall or winter. “After living in Tel Aviv, I really enjoy the beach/outdoors culture. I may look into San Diego for work and move at the end of the year,” she said. She may be reached at dawn.kassirer@yahoo.com.

 

Originally published in The Jewish World.

So You're Feeling Homesick at Home: 8 Ways to Deal With Reverse Culture Shock

<div class="masa-blog-title">So You're Feeling Homesick at Home: 8 Ways to Deal With Reverse Culture Shock</div>

By Rachel Greenberg, Nativ alumna

 

It’s hard feeling like a stranger in your own home, but just as you needed time to adjust when you got to Israel, so too you need time to adjust back to life here in the United States of America.

 

When you were in Israel, you probably did not realize how much you changed every day, but you did. You learned from everyone around you, picked up new mannerisms, and adapted completely to a totally new lifestyle. So what happens now that you’re home? You’re not the same person you were when you left, but everything around you remains seemingly unchanged.

Here are some tips to help you deal with reverse culture shock:

 

1. Share your experiences


Now that you’re home it may seem like you’re alone, but your friends, family, and community  do want to hear about how you lived like a local, became a master negotiator in the shuk, and found your way around Israel via public transportation. Plus, if you become a mentor for others who want to go abroad, you will always have an attentive audience to share your story with!

 

alt="Become a Masa Alumni Mentor and help the next generation start the journey."

 

2. Stay Informed


If you’re feeling out of the loop, check social media and Israeli news sites to stay up-to-date with current events in Israel. This will not only help you feel connected, but you’ll be able to talk to other alumni and friends about what’s going on in Israel.

 

3. Write About It


Sometimes, the best way to express your feelings about your experience abroad is to write about. Writing allows you to positively articulate your feelings and express you sentiments about your recent return to America. Ten years from now, you will look back at something you wrote and you and make yourself fall in love with Israel all over again. Not to mention, we’re always looking for awesome alumni bloggers. (Email Andria at AndriaK@MasaIsrael.org for more information.)

 

4. Stay connected

It's helpful to have people in your life who shared experiences with you in Israel. While you can reminisce with them about hikes and nights out, they're also experiencing the same emotions as you, and they're the only ones who are able to understand how you’re feeling without words. People you met abroad will be some of your closest friends no matter where you all end up living. The best part about staying connected with people you met abroad is traveling to see them for reunions!

 

"Reunite with your Masa squad and network with Alumni at a Shalom U'Lehitraot Party"

 

5. Seek new experiences

Find hidden gems in your area, get excited and have yourself a little adventure. Being home doesn’t mean you have to go back to your same old routine: meet new people, explore your surroundings, and try new things. You’d be surprised to find out how many places you don’t know about.

 

6. Make a Schedule


In America, one part of you will want to see everyone you haven’t seen in months, and the other part of you may want to stay in bed and look at pictures and videos from your time in Israel. Plan time in your schedule to reminisce, but also try to get back into your life at home by creating a schedule.

 

7. It’s okay to miss Israel


Whatever you feel when you get back from a life changing experience is okay. It’s okay to cry, it’s okay to laugh, it’s okay to plan a trip back, but it is important to not let missing Israel consume you. When you miss it, let yourself acknowledge the amazing experience you just had and use that emotion to realize how much you learned. You miss it because of how much you loved the experience and you wouldn’t want it any other way.

 

8. Let yourself process


Feel it. Dive in face first to everything your feeling. Embrace your emotions and give yourself permission to relax, absorb and really think about your time abroad. Be patient with yourself as you undergo the many different emotions and changes that come along with re-entry to America.

 

9. Rock your Israeli Look


Instead of trying to revert back to your old American fashion, wear your Naot in the summer, keep your new piercings with pomegranate studs, and rock your genie pants in the supermarket!


Reminisce about your Masa and Israeli experience here.


 

7 More Reasons to Study Abroad at TAU: The Beaches

<div class="masa-blog-title">7 More Reasons to Study Abroad at TAU: The Beaches</div>

It’s Thursday at 3:00 PM and your classes at Tel Aviv University just wrapped up for the week.

You could go to the shuk, you could eat falafel, you could go on a run, you could eat more falafel – or wait you could go to the beach. That’s right, you’re not only studying at one of the world’s leading universities but also studying right next to some of the world’s best beaches.


Put your books down this weekend, grab your sunscreen, your squad, and hit the sand!

 

Here are 7 More Reasons to Study Abroad at TAU:

 

1. Banana Beach
Located on the southernmost edge near Jaffa this beach is home to Friday night drum circles, hula hooping-bikini wearing girls, endless games of Matkot and sunbather after sunbather. Think of it as a Bohemian paradise right next to Tel Aviv.

 

2. Gordon Beach, Frishman Beach, Bograshov Beach
Welcome to beach-mania. These three beaches offer endless white sand, beautiful people and the perfect dose of sunshine. Located right in the center of Tel Aviv these beaches offer a great getaway with tons of bars and restaurants. Each beach is the perfect place to catch the addicting Tel Aviv sunset plus, there’s a Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream stand at Gordon Beach. #YUM


3. Trumpeldor Beach
Walking down the beach in Tel Aviv you’ll spot an unusual statue and you know you’ve arrived at Trumpeldor Beach. This is a quieter beach amongst its neighbors since there are no facilities or lifeguards.


4. Jerusalem Beach
Formerly known as Geula Beach, Jerusalem Beach is located right off Allenby Street and near the very well-known Opera Tower building. You’ll find falafel shops and bodegas everywhere, so don’t worry about packing snacks for the day. It’s not touristy and is the perfect spot to meet all your friends for a relaxing beach day.



5. Tel Baruch Beach
Tel Baruch Beach may be one of Israel’s cleanest beaches. Fully equipped with green lawns, outdoor workout area, and seaside café it’s the perfect escape from a long week of classes or a big night out. 


6. Metzitzim Beach
If you wake up early enough on a Friday or Saturday morning,  take a stroll down Namal Tel Aviv, and  grab a coffee while you check out Metzitzim Beach. It’s more family oriented but offers 3 volleyball courts and an outdoor workout area. If that’s not your thing, however, keep walking north and you’ll catch twenty-something Israelis sipping Goldstar and hanging out.


7. The Surfer’s Beach at the Hilton Hof HaGolshim
Besides beautiful people watching all day long check out The Surfer’s Beach and prepare to be amazed at the skill, the surf, and the boys. It’s a hot spot to kayak or learn how to paddle board too!

 



Interested in studying right on the beach and soaking up every ounce of that wonderful Tel Aviv sun? Check out Tel Aviv University’s study abroad program!

 

 

5 Classes You Can Only Take in Israel

<div class="masa-blog-title">5 Classes You Can Only Take in Israel</div>

Did college really happen if you didn’t study abroad? When you study abroad in Israel you’re able to take classes you can’t take anywhere else.


From diving deep into environmental studies at The Arava Institute to gaining the mad skills needed to build your own startup at the Technion, we promise to study abroad in Israel will not only change your life but also boost your career.


That’s why we’re here to give you 5 Awesome Classes You Can Only Take in Israel!


Without further ado allow us to introduce you to:


1. Peace-building Leadership Summit, from The Arava Institute, located at Kibbutz Ketura

Whether you choose to study abroad for a semester or a year, the Arava Institute will surely expand your mind. Each student at the institute will participate in the weekly Peace-building Leadership Summit. You’ll engage in deep dialogue that explores the issues of race, religion, culture and coexistence with fellow students from Jordan, Palestine, Israel and North America!


  

2. Innovation Management from Technion International, located in Haifa

Do you ever wonder how new technology can take over a nation, or how come every time the new iPhone comes out you have to have it? Through Technion’s Innovation Management, course you’ll discover what drives technological innovation and the media’s role in presenting innovations to the general public. You’ll be exposed to the impact of journalism on technology, and the impact of technology on journalism. Overall, this course will prepare you to read the global trends in innovation and strategically position yourself for success. 

 

 

3. The Circle of Life – From Birth to Old Age from Tel Aviv University, located in Tel Aviv

If you’re pre-Med or looking to jumpstart a career in the medical field, then TAU’s Voyage to Medicine program is the perfect fit for you. You can take classes like The Circle of Life and explore medical ethical issues; gain knowledge about human development and most of all take field trips to the IDF’s Medical Corps training base. Talk about being fully immersed in Israel!

 

 

4. Derech Hatgar/ Hagalim  Project, from IDC Herzliya located in Herzliya

As part of your semester or year abroad, help at-risk youth learn challenges and triumphs of sports! You’ll coach up to three kids ages 14-17 years-old on everything from homework to basketball to the thrills of life for college credit. You’ll get to shoot hoops and make a difference (while shining up your resume).



5. From Idea to Start-Up from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva

Do you crave adventure? Have you jotted down millions of business ideas but need that final push? Enroll for a semester at Ben-Gurion University and turn your idea into a reality in the class “From Idea to Start-Up.” You’ll focus on the phases of venture development and spark your entrepreneurship skills with top-notch academic guidance.


Whoa! You’re probably thinking you’ve got to take one of these classes! No worries, talk to a Masa Israel rep today.
However, if you didn’t see the perfect class for yourself Israel has several universities offering hundreds of programs. Check out masaisrael.org to find your perfect match.

 

Top 10 Places to See in Europe while Studying Abroad in Israel

<div class="masa-blog-title">Top 10 Places to See in Europe while Studying Abroad in Israel</div>

 

Israel is bound to be the best place to study abroad, not only because of the beautiful men and women, cutting edge technology or beaches but also it's location at the center of the world. With the little time and a small budget, you can travel from Israel to pretty much anywhere in Europe.

It's essential to see as many countries as possible while studying abroad; check out our list of the Top 10 Places to See in Europe while Studying Abroad in Israel.

 

ATHENS, Greece: In a hop and a skip you can catch a direct flight to Greece from Ben-Gurion Int'l Airport and bask yourself in Feta cheese, Moussaka, and the Panthenon. Flights are usually $200 bucks and under.

 

 

PRAGUE, Czech Republic: Prague is also right next door to Israel, well, practically. Fly yourself to the land where beer is cheaper than water and immerse yourself in the history of this once thriving Jewish community. Flights from Ben-Gurion Int'l Airport to Prague are around $250 -$500 bucks depending on the time of the year (pictured below: The Jubilee Synagogue).

 

BARCELONA, Spain: Spain is super close too! Fly on over and explore all the wonders of the famous architect Gaudi or catch Messi playing a soccer game at the Barcelona Football Stadium (known as Camp Nou). Flights to Barcelona ballpark for around $340.

 

IBIZA, Spain: Yes, you've definitely had the Mike Posner song stuck in your head, but now is your chance to show Avicii you're cool. Visit any of the world famous nightclubs Ibiza has to offer or go on a boat cruise for a day. Flights to Ibiza are a tad longer than flights to BCN and range from $300 - $500 dollars.

 

ROME, Italy: In 72 hours you can conquer most of the tourist attractions in Rome while enjoying fresh pasta and house wine all along the way. Don't forget to shop in the Roman "shuks" of Monastiraki and Plaka. Be sure to schedule in a hike to the Acropolis too. Flights for around $300-$500.

 

 

BERLIN, Germany: Take a walk through history and visit the Berlin Wall, Brandenburg Gate and enjoy the nightlife! Remember to get your museum tickets early so you don't miss out on the fun. Flights range from $340- $400.

 

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands: Who wouldn't want to spend the weekend walking through the world's largest Van Gogh Museum, the Anne Frank House or seeing any one of the canals this city has to offer.  The city is also known for their cafes and coffee shops, so be sure to make a stop! Flights from $199.

 

PARIS, France: Missing your friends studying abroad in France? Take a weekend and sip wine in a French café, visit the Eiffel tower, walk through the gardens of Versailles or take a river boat cruise? Numerous free walking tours are available daily.  Flights from $200.

 

BRUSSELS, Belgium: Chocolate lover? Beer fanatic? Take a trip to Belgium and visit the famous city of Brussels where you can go on a Brussels Chocolate Walking Tour and check out the Grand-Place! Flights from $195.

 

BUDAPEST, Hungary: Sulk in the ancient bathhouses of Budapest, cruise down the renowned Danube river, stroll across the chain bridge and have a once-in-a-lifetime experience walking through the old Jewish district. Flights from $169. 

Cheap ways to book flights:

Hopper

EasyJet

RyanAir

Yalla? Are you ready to go? For more information about studying abroad in Israel talk to an expert Masa Israel rep today

 

3 Courses that will Rock Your Semester at Tel Aviv University

<div class="masa-blog-title">3 Courses that will Rock Your Semester at Tel Aviv University</div>

Opening its doors four decades ago Tel Aviv University boasts a diverse group of 30,000 students and is noted as a top academic institution worldwide. TAU focuses its energy in the fields of sciences, humanities, and arts. If you’re looking to live in the mecca of Israel with opportunities at every corner then Tel Aviv University is the choice for you. 

 

Check out these 3 unique classes offered at TAU:

 

1. Community Action in Tel Aviv

There’s no better way to spend your semester abroad than helping others! The Community Action Program  is designed to accelerate your social justice skills and give you firsthand experience working with refugees in underprivileged communities. The program is a partnership between Tel Aviv University and Yahel Social Change.

 

2. Nuclear Nonproliferation and Security in the 21st Century

The threat of international terrorism is growing in our modern world and what better way to make a difference than to enroll in TAU’s Nuclear Nonproliferation and Security course. You’ll have the opportunity to hear from leading Israeli experts in the field topped off with a class trip to an Iron Dome site in Ashkelon.

 

3. Entrepreneurship from A – Z

Look at the world around you: that building, that car, your phone, those headphones. Everything around us was once only an idea. This course will teach you about those who start companies and those who work for companies. You’ll gain skills needed to integrate into either group – whether your idea is the next big thing or you want to work for the next big thing.


Ready to be in Tel Aviv next semester? The pros at Masa Israel will match you with the perfect study abroad program. Connect with our team here

 

3 Classes You Can’t Go Wrong with at Hebrew U

<div class="masa-blog-title">3 Classes You Can’t Go Wrong with at Hebrew U </div>

Over and over again The Hebrew University has been ranked one of the World’s Top 100 universities and is home to 8 Nobel Prize winners. With first-class study abroad undergraduate and graduate programs, international students of Hebrew University thrive both inside and outside of the classroom.

 

Studying abroad at Hebrew U means you’ll enjoy all of what Israel’s capital, Jerusalem, has to offer while meeting friends from South America, Asia, Africa and Europe. 

 

Start your journey to Israel today and check out 3 classes you can only take in Jerusalem!

 

1. Feminist Judaism: Theory and Practice, Contemporary Issues and Ideas

Take a stroll outside your comfort zone with Dr. Shulamit Magnus and explore the Jewish feminist critique of traditional Judaism. You’ll spend a semester looking at contemporary issues that engage feminist Jews, women, and men (photo: Naomi Wolf).

 

2. Uncovering Jerusalem: A Historical and Archaeological Survey

It’s time to take the classroom outside and literally step into history. In the class, Uncovering Jerusalem you’ll take 10 field trips throughout the city and truly learn the ins and outs of archaeology. 

 

3.  Technology Entrepreneurship

In a country that raised nearly $3.58 billion dollars in venture capital, there is no other place to study entrepreneurship than the Holy Land itself. Throughout this course, you’ll have the opportunity to be mentored by Siftech, the Jerusalem accelerator!

 


Fun Fact: Did you know that the Albert Einstein Archives are located at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem?


 

3 College Classes Any Aspiring Environmentalist Must Take

<div class="masa-blog-title">3 College Classes Any Aspiring Environmentalist Must Take</div>

The Arava Institute is the leading environmental research and studies program in the Middle East. With a diverse student body made up of Israelis, Jordanians, Palestinians and students from around the globe. You will enrich your friendship circle, but also build connections and skills that will help lead environmental change in any region. The first step in solving the world’s most complex environmental problems is only a plane ride away.

 

  Here’s a glimpse of 3 courses offered at The Arava Institute:

 

1. Water Management in the Middle East

Gain the knowledge necessary to comprehend the major issues affecting water management in the Middle East and challenges facing today’s policymakers and experts. Water scarcity is a reality in the region and this course gives you a first-hand look at ways to critically think about dealing with the issues at large. 

 

2. Alternative Energy Science

Discover the vast and complex world of renewable energy sources and learn from faculty with first-hand field experience. This course will also touch on the environmental consequences of energy conversion and how new energy technologies aid in reducing global climate change. 

 

3. Introduction to Solid Waste

Solid Waste isn’t the most attractive title for a college course, but it’s a reality that affects the world we live in every single day. Leading professionals recognize that proactive management is required to deal with the disposal of solid waste and where better to learn about this topic than The Arava Institute? 


Whether you’re a sophomore or junior interested in bettering the lives of those around you or a Master’s Degree student, The Arava Institute can advance your academic career and help you contribute to the betterment of the world. Learn more here.