San Diego Jewish Journal: Inspired to Give Back

San Diego Jewish Journal: Inspired to Give Back

San Diego Jewish Journal: Inspired to Give Back

August 29, 2016

By Caline Chitayat


Jamie Gold, a San Fernando Valley native, was 25 years old when she went on Birthright.

“I actually had no desire to [go to Israel], but I was in a job that I couldn’t stand and I wanted to go on vacation,” Gold recalls. A couple of her friends convinced her to join them on the trip to Israel. “I was the naïve person who thought there would be camels everywhere. I really had no concept of Israel; it just wasn’t on my radar.”


When Gold arrived, she says she immediately fell in love with the country.


“The community, the culture, everything just hit me, and I realized I wanted that in my life.”


During her trip, Gold bumped into a girl on another Birthright trip who told her about Masa Israel, a public-service organization that offers unique study, service and career development experiences to young Jewish adults from around the globe. Gold learned of the Masa Israel Teaching Fellows program, which combined what she wanted to do with where she wanted to be, and was very affordable option for a life change. Gold applied to the program and was accepted when she landed back in the U.S. She quit her job and moved to Israel five months later.


“Everything in my life has changed as a result of the program – personally and professionally.”


Find out how Masa Israel Teaching Fellows can help you change careers.


Masa’s Israel Teaching Fellows program is a 10-month program for college graduates between the ages of 21 and 30. The program allows these graduates to teach English to Israeli students and to immerse themselves in Israeli society. Masa coordinates trips to various destinations around Israel throughout the 10 months. The organization also provides participants with an apartment. Gold lived with five other girls.


“I was in Rishon LeZion. My necklace has the coordinates, so it’s always near my heart,” she says. “In the first month or two, we did ulpan and then [Masa] gave us 100 hours of teaching preparation, in order to make us feel comfortable in the classroom. There was no requirement for going on the program – you didn’t have to have any teaching background at all – so they wanted to make sure all of us were comfortable.”


After the High Holidays, the Teaching Fellows arrived in their classrooms. Most were assigned to elementary school, but Gold landed in a middle school. Her experience was probably different because of that, she says. Gold would take out groups of between eight and 10 students, typically a mix of very advanced English learners and some intermediate ones. The goal was to have the advanced learners motivate the intermediate students.


Although it was a very exciting time, Gold says she thought she was going to quit on the first day.


“The school environment in general is so different. It’s crazy to me because some of the smartest, most innovative people in the world come out of that country.”


She remembers kids running around, throwing things and talking to each other incessantly. It was very different from the way she grew up in California. Gold does note that the students completely respected her. Even though they seemed to look at her as more of a peer, she says she could tell they truly wanted to learn from her.


“It was really cool because they looked at me like I was a gift. If they got chosen to go with me, it was special because not everyone was able to. It was also cool that I didn’t speak a lot of Hebrew because if they wanted to talk to me, then they really had to force themselves to speak English. I found that naturally, they were doing better in their English classes because they wanted to converse.”


Gold was participating in the program during Operation Pillar of Defense through the fall of 2012.


“That was really hard for me. But it was amazing because I got to go and talk to these students and they were having conversations about these really deep, meaningful things. They made me feel better. I was teaching them English, but they were also teaching me.”


At the end of the school year, Gold watched her students go through graduation. The program came to a close, and it was time for her to head back to the States. As exciting as it was to see her family and friends, Gold says it took her many months to adjust back to life on the American West Coast.


“I just feel so much more connected to Israel than to America. I can’t even compare the two,” she says. “Even when I went on Birthright, it felt more like home. I know everybody says that, but it’s true. It’s a feeling that I didn’t have in America.”


In the five months between Birthright and the Teaching Fellows program, Gold sought to find a community like the one she had in Israel.


“I didn’t have a community prior, and I wasn’t involved in a Jewish community by any means. I had a friend who went on Birthright with me and told me we should go to a Moishe House event. I had never heard of [the organization], but I ended up going and it was great because I really connected with the people who lived in the house. I think that’s really important,” she says.


Moishe House is a nonprofit organization that provides a vibrant Jewish community for young adults in their 20s and facilitates a wide range of experiences, so that they have the leadership, knowledge and community to enrich their Jewish journeys.


“I ended up going to all of their events during those few months, and naturally I became friends with them.”


Eventually, Gold heard about an opening at the West L.A. Moishe House, so she moved in and lived there for the next two and a half years. Gold did a teaching program called DeLeT at Hebrew Union College and was able to earn her teaching credential. It was the perfect transition from Masa, where she went from teaching in an informal setting to formally teaching. However, after working in a Jewish day school, Gold realized that while she loved the social and emotional aspects of teaching, she wasn’t set on academics for 40 hours each week.


“While I was in the teaching program realizing I didn’t want to be a teacher, I had all this responsibility as a Moishe House resident. I was planning seven events each month for the community and doing a lot of outreach. I really, really cared about it, and my roommate asked me, ‘What are you not doing this for a job?’ I started thinking about it, and was really passionate about working in the Jewish community.”


Moishe House approached Gold while she was still a resident and informed her of a job opening. After three months, she moved from L.A. to San Diego for the job and has been with them for nine months now.


As Director of Alumni Engagement, Gold is able to reflect on her own experiences as a resident and what she wants from the program as an alumni.


“I love developing and cultivating deep and meaningful relationships. We have 820 alumni at the moment, and we’ll have more alumni than residents soon, so my job is really just to connect with people who have lived in the house and find out what they want to see.”


Gold notes that she feels so lucky because she has the resources now and can bring her own creativity to the job.


“It’s not like a large corporation where if you want to do something, you have to wait. At Moishe House, if they hire you, they trust you and give you that creative freedom. I feel that there is such an untapped market right now that I have so much potential to create so many great things.”


When asked if Gold would ever consider moving back to Israel, she says that if she would go back, she would definitely want to have a purpose for being there.


“The first time it was Masa, but now I’m in a different place in my life, and I would want to have a job lined up there. But yes, I would definitely consider moving back – at least for a short amount of time. Israel will always be my second home, and my kids will be raised with it. It will always be a place that I am constantly thinking about and visiting when I can.”


Originally published in the San Diego Jewish Journal.


Be the first to know when MITF applications open.

Quiz: What Israeli Food Matches Your Personality?

Haaretz: Letters to the Editor: Responses to Arab English Teachers in Jewish Schools

Haaretz: Letters to the Editor: Responses to Arab English Teachers in Jewish Schools

Haaretz: Letters to the Editor: Responses to Arab English Teachers in Jewish Schools

August 18, 2016

By Tamar Zilbershatz, Director of Service and Gap Programs at Masa Israel Journey


Another resource to address English teacher shortage


In response to “With Qualified English Teachers in Short Supply, Israel’s Jewish Schools Start Courting Arabs” (, August 9).

Judy Maltz addresses the shrinking number of English teachers available to work in Israel’s schools. As the article shows, this is a critical issue — especially in the country’s periphery — and the Education Ministry has taken notice.


The influx of recently graduated Arab-Israeli teachers hired to work in Jewish schools is a welcome development that should be fully supported.


But there’s an additional resource, created through a partnership between the Education Ministry and Masa Israel, that could also help fill the void. Schools in Israel searching for extra bandwidth for English education should consider bringing in native English speakers living abroad who are eager to spend a year serving Israeli communities and gaining professional experience.


More and more, young people are seeing Israel as a prime destination for teaching English after college — right up there with Spain, China and South Korea. Through Masa Israel Teaching Fellows, we’ve brought hundreds of participants to more than a dozen Israeli communities from Netanya to Rahat, where they have a real impact tutoring in small groups and through one on one instruction. These are college graduates who come to Israel year after year to bolster their personal and professional growth, form lasting bonds with the country and make a positive difference in the lives of Israeli children.


So, as schools continue to identify solutions for the shortage of English teachers readily accessible, it’s worth highlighting the potential of this newly tapped resource.


Originally Published in Haaretz.

Washington Jewish Week: Opposites Attract

Washington Jewish Week: Opposites Attract

Washington Jewish Week: Opposites Attract

August 17, 2016

By Daniel Schere


Theirs is a story worthy of the holiday of love.

Finding a soulmate wasn’t the first thing on Blake Yospa and Rachel Leeds’ minds in 2014 as they began a year with the Masa Israel Teaching Fellows program in Rishon LeZion, Israel. But as the spring of 2015 rolled around and the program was wrapping up, a romance began to blossom when Yospa asked Leeds for some much-needed practical advice.


“I needed to get some alone time with her to tell how I felt, so I asked for some help picking out some gifts for my sister and my mom,” he said last week. “And I told her how I felt, and she smiled and told me how she felt, and we’ve been dating ever since.”


Tu B’Av, the 15th day of the month of Av, is Friday this year.


Yospa and Leeds had spent the year together as aides in a classroom of third through fifth graders who were learning English. In the beginning they worked on projects together in a friendly, collegial setting, but that’s all it was.


“As time went on I slowly developed feelings for her,” recalled Yospa, 28.


He didn’t want to mess up the work relationship and would drop subtle hints like, “If you’re going to the beach, I’ll come,” but she never understood, he said.


“He would just text me these funny different things, and I wouldn’t respond,” Leeds said. “I was just not interested. Like, altogether it was like a work relationship.”


Leeds, 26, said when she first met Yospa, she thought he was “loud and obnoxious,” but in a fun way.

“He was very different in terms of being way more outgoing than I am,” she said. “I’m more in the background. So I was like, ‘he’s just trying to be all funny.’”


It was Yospa’s gift shopping trip at the end of the program that convinced Leeds to stop ignoring the aroma of romance after nine months of working together.


Shortly after that, they talked about their plans back in the States. She was set to begin teaching fourth grade at KIPP DC Promise Academy, a charter school. He was headed back to his native Baltimore to look for a job; two weeks after arriving he landed a position as an operations assistant with the Washington Redskins. They have been dating ever since.


To celebrate the one-year anniversary of their relationship, Yospa and Leeds had dinner at Union Market on July 24.


“We’re foodies and not big drinkers,” Yospa said. “She’s a wine drinker and I like classic cocktails. So we like to treat ourselves to a nice dinner now and again.”


They also printed a map of Israel and marked the coordinates of the spot where they first met.


Perhaps it was by chance that Leeds, an early childhood education major at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, met Yospa, a sports management major at Towson University. But a love for public service and a desire to connect with the Jewish state brought them together.


Originally published in Washington Jewish Week.

JTA: For 'Jewish Valentine's Day,' Meet 5 Couples who Found Love on Israel Trips

JTA: For 'Jewish Valentine's Day,' Meet 5 Couples who Found Love on Israel Trips

JTA: For 'Jewish Valentine's Day,' Meet 5 Couples who Found Love on Israel Trips

August 14, 2016

By Gabe Friedman


In the two-part finale of the third season of “Broad City,” the show’s main characters, Abbi and Ilana, embark on a “Birthmark” trip — a thinly veiled allusion to the famed Birthright Israel trip that sends Jews aged 18 to 26 on free 10-day trips to Israel.

Upon boarding the “El Ol” plane, the best friends are assigned seats next to guys based on their “match potential.”


It’s hilarious — partially because it hits so close to home.


Programs such as Birthright and Masa Israel Journey, which offers study abroad and volunteer and internship opportunities in the Jewish state, are known — anecdotally, at least — for their high matchmaking rates. Even the receptionist for Birthright’s alumni community network who fielded this reporter’s phone call met her husband on a trip (read on for her story).


Thursday night marks the beginning of Tu b’Av, a minor holiday known as the “Jewish Day of Love.” A matchmaking day for unmarried women in the Second Temple period, before the fall of Jerusalem in 70 C.E., Tu b’Av is now a popular romantically themed day in Israel similar to Valentine’s Day in the United States.


In honor of the holiday, enjoy the stories of these five adorable couples who met in Israel.


Alissa Platcow and Zeeva Berman, both 24


Zeva and Alissa

Zeeva Berman, left, and Alissa Platcow (Courtesy of Platcow)


Alissa and Zeeva met at the airport in 2013 on the way to the same Masa program, Jerusalem Sounds, which offered music and other classes at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. But they quickly realized that they must have crossed paths multiple times, having grown up about 10 minutes apart from each other in the Boston area and attending the same small Hebrew school for years. They even participated in the same gymnastics program in middle school.



During their semester abroad, they attended an acrobatics convention together — the only non-dancers there. The women acknowledged perhaps taking the program too seriously, as the dancers considered it vacation time, Alissa and Zeeva both told JTA.


Near the end of the convention, Alissa woke up dehydrated — and Zeeva went into “mama bear mode.” With no hospital around, Zeeva forced the convention administrators to call an ambulance. The ambulance workers didn’t put the IV needle in Alissa’s arm correctly — it hurt, so Alissa started talking to the workers to distract herself.


“I was like, ‘Let them do their job!’” Zeeva said.


By the end of what they jokingly call the “near death experience,” the couple knew they were meant for each other.


“It definitely cemented our relationship,” Alissa said.


Now they live together in Manhattan, where Alissa is the membership assistant at Temple Israel and occasionally leads services at the Bay Ridge Jewish Center. Zeeva teaches music at the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue and other temples. (Oh, and she liked acrobatics so much that she now teaches it, too.)


Blake Yospa,28 and Rachel Leeds, 25


Blake Yospa and Rachel Leeds

Blake Yospa and Rachel Leeds in Annapolis, Md. (Courtesy of Yospa and Leeds)


Blake and Rachel both spent the better part of a year working as teaching assistants at a school in Rishon LeZion. Blake liked Rachel, but felt he couldn’t make a move for, you know, professional reasons.


But with two weeks left in their Masa Israel program, he had to say something. To get her alone, Blake asked her to help him pick out gifts for his family members.


“I said, ‘Rachel, I kind of have a thing for you.’ She says ‘no, you’re lying.’ But she was smiling, so I could tell that she maybe felt something for me too,” Blake said.


He said he never would have crossed paths with Rachel if they hadn’t met in Israel — after all, she was living in Cleveland and he was in suburban Baltimore. Blake described it as luck that she was dissatisfied with the Cleveland school she was working at — it inspired her to go to Israel — and that the first school she worked at in Israel had a host of logistical difficulties, forcing her to transfer to Blake’s school.


The couple now live together in Washington, D.C., where Rachel is an elementary school teacher and Blake is an operations assistant for the Washington Redskins.


Arielle Mogil, 30, and Max Mogil, 29


Arielle and Max

Arielle and Max Mogil at their costume engagement party. (Courtesy of Arielle Mogil)


Arielle and Max met during the first ice breaker on their Birthright trip.


Everyone was given a card with a fun fact about someone in the group; the goal was to find the person it applied to. But by the time she sat back down in the group circle, Arielle was disappointed that she couldn’t find the person who played an instrument.


She happened to sit next to Max, who immediately told her he played piano.


“We joke that that’s his pickup line: ‘I’m a classical pianist,’” Arielle said.


Love grew from there and, to commemorate the day they met — which happened to be Purim — they had a costume engagement party. When the couple married in January, 14 people from their Birthright trip attended the wedding.


Now Arielle works on the staff at the Birthright Alumni Network. In addition to answering the phone — when she excitedly shared her story — she occasionally staffs Israel trips.


And when she does, she always makes sure to play that same ice breaker.


“I tell them that’s how I met my husband,” she said.



Ellie Rudee and Chris Goldenbaum, both 24


Chris and Ellie

Ellie Rudee and Chris Goldenbaum at Passover 2016. (Courtesy of Rudee)


They met in Jerusalem on Valentine’s Day a few years ago, but it took Chris a long time to win over Ellie. Chris, a native Brazilian, was interning at an organization promoting arts and culture. Ellie was interning at a private counterterrorism firm — and was also dating someone.


Months later their first date, a picnic at Jerusalem’s Montefiore Windmill, didn’t start exactly as planned — Chris forgot silverware and cups. Still, they had a great time.


“We were walking back and stopped in this restaurant to get drinks,” Ellie said. “We waited and waited, but nothing came. Eventually we were like, ‘Should we just go?’ So we just bolted and ended up laughing really hard.”


Their similar attitudes may have sealed the deal — but Ellie says it doesn’t hurt that he can do spot-on impressions of people they used to have Shabbat dinner with during their Masa program.


“We met a lot of people who said really crazy things,” Ellie said.


Both are journalists and now live in Jerusalem, although Chris is currently in Brazil working on film projects related to the Olympics.


Daniel Behrman, 32, and Jenna Kruger, 31



Daniel Behrman and Jenna Kruger (Courtesy of Behrman and Kruger)


Daniel and Jenna met at a weekend conference in Jerusalem through their Masa internship programs. When they saw each other at the same lectures, they thought it was just coincidence. But they didn’t stay “just friends” for long — soon they were frequently traveling back and forth between Tel Aviv, where Daniel was interning at a marketing firm, and Jerusalem, where Jenna was interning at Hadassah.


“We joke that Jerusalem is a ‘city of love’ even though it isn’t [known as] that,” Jenna said. “I think it’s just a less stressful environment when you go out and you don’t have to worry about the religious aspect because everyone is Jewish.”


When they were both back in the States, Daniel immediately flew her out to see him in Seattle, where he worked.


“Before I went over, my mom told me not to fall in love with an Israeli,” Jenna said. “Moving to Seattle wasn’t quite what she had in mind either.”


The couple will marry in September.


Originally Published on

The Times of Israel: The Gap Year Investment in Israel

The Times of Israel: The Gap Year Investment in Israel

August 11, 2016

By Liran Avisar, CEO Masa Israel Journey


For at least a generation, there has been broad consensus on the linear trajectory of education for young people in North America. After graduating high school, college is often considered the natural and only next step.


Yet more and more, individuals and families are realizing that going straight to college is not a one-size-fits-all experience. In the halls of academia and in high schools alike, administrators increasingly recognize value in providing students access to immersive, transformational experiences before they make consequential — and expensive — decisions about their futures. Just as higher education itself is a major investment toward a successful future, so too is dedicating time during this brief and influential period in life to discovering one’s passions, values and perspective. As with any big investment, completing one’s due diligence beforehand should be the expectation, not the exception.


Gap year programs come in a variety of formats. Some students opt for domestic experiences, working or volunteering at home, while others set off for an organized year abroad. In both cases, studies have shown that students who invest in a gap year experience have higher GPAs, are more engaged with campus activities, and are 75% more likely to report being “happy” or “extremely satisfied” with their post-college careers.


Many international gap year programs provide the chance to volunteer or intern while only practicing living independently. The more proactive participants may learn to cook their own meals, coexist with roommates, or glean a few fragments from a new country and culture. The Masa Israel experience, on the other hand, not only empowers its young people to become fully immersed in their local communities, it connects them with a global network of peers they would likely never meet otherwise, who are equally eager to engage in an exchange of culture and ideas.



Israel is home to an abundance of languages, religions and communities. And on top of that, Israel’s longstanding custom of hosting international guests for extended amounts of time makes its cultural capital uniquely accessible. The expectation that young people from around the world can come here to expand their worldviews, build life skills and discover or refine their interests is weaved into the fabric of Israeli institutions, and the opportunities afforded to gap year participants reflect that.


In Israel, young people are exposed to an intense multiculturalism only found in the backseat of Tel Aviv taxis and the ancient stone walkways of Jerusalem, not to mention the smaller Israeli towns in the north and south of the country. And similarly, on Masa Israel experiences, it’s the interactions with thousands of other participants from all over Europe, South America, Australia and elsewhere that make the journey so transformational. Our subsidized, individually tailored programs allow students the opportunity to specialize in their unique interests, gain valuable work experience, and grow as independent young adults. Service and study opportunities provide daily structure, while internship opportunities for our gap year participants in Israel are unparalleled.


The truth is, most post-high school internships, no matter where they take place, offer few opportunities beyond fetching coffee, printing and stapling, and organizing Excel spreadsheets. But internships for our gap year students allow them to build real professional skills and tap into actual networks. Because of the mandatory conscription policy, Israelis expect 18-year-olds to be able to handle significant responsibilities, and thus the society is much more dynamic and flexible when it comes to giving young people the benefit of the doubt in a workplace. Additionally, Israel is a global hub for technology and innovation, and it is virtually impossible to avoid the optimistic, entrepreneurial spirit that exists in every sector.



From behind the scenes of one of the leading organizations for gap year opportunities, I’ve seen first-hand how a student’s taking the time to develop his or her identity before entering the formal structure of college can profoundly enrich personal and professional growth. So, if spending time in Israel in the gap between high school and higher education has not been recognized by American students as an essential investment opportunity, it should be.


Originally published in The Times of Israel.

The New Hampshire Jewish Reporter: Learning With the Jews of Poland

The New Hampshire Jewish Reporter: Learning With the Jews of Poland

The New Hampshire Jewish Reporter: Learning With the Jews of Poland

August 8, 2016

By Rebecca Haas, Masa Israel Teaching Fellows Alumna


On a rainy Friday evening in May, I entered a JCC to participate in a Shabbat dinner. As I walked through the lobby, the aromas of brisket and warm bread filled the air. I passed tables laid out with enough salads and appetizers to serve a hundred people, and I could see a table in front with challah, candles, and a Kiddush cup filled with wine. Around me, my friends were introducing themselves to those nearby, offering up a “Shabbat shalom” to each. It could have been any Shabbat, in practically any city. It certainly felt that way to me, which is why I kept forgetting that I was, in fact, sitting in a JCC in Poland.

Yes, in Poland. Before arriving there, I, like many others, assumed that Jewish life in Poland was just history. I had imagined a rather bleak place, strewn with remnants of the atrocities of the Holocaust, and a community void of Judaism. It had certainly come as a surprise, then, when we entered the lively and bright JCC of Krakow for our first Shabbat dinner.


Together with other young professionals and college students from Masa Israel Journey programs in Israel, I had traveled to Poland with the Masa-GLI Wilf Family Holocaust Education Program to learn about the Shoah, as well as the modern, Jewish communities that now exist there. We visited Auschwitz-Birkenau and Treblinka, saw what once were the ghettos of Krakow and Warsaw, and walked through the horrifying forests and mass graves of the countryside. Seeing these sights gave a powerful context to the Holocaust learning I have had in the past, and invoked strong and raw emotions as we, a group of Jews living in Israel, walked through our people’s history. 


But such moments were matched with moments where we felt inspired and could look into the future as we explored the current community centers of Poland, met young, local Jews, and experienced the growing Jewish community in its entirety.


Halfway through my journey, I began to compare this budding community to my own. I then formulated a question that had been stirring around in my mind: What can WE (the Jews of the Diaspora) learn from this revitalizing Jewish community of Poland?


As a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow, I spend my days teaching English to elementary school students in Israeli schools. However, my job is not just to instruct students on the rules of the present progressive tense or the correct English words for popular foods. It is to inspire my students to continue learning long after I have left Israel, and to help them gain the confidence they need to explore the language on their own. Essentially, my goal is to help develop the next generation of Israel. A daunting task, to say the least.


But the Jews of Poland have done just that. Many young adults do not discover their own Judaism until their aging relatives, the generation that survived WWII, divulge their Jewish ancestry on their deathbeds. Having grown up with little or no Jewish exposure, these young Jews turn to the Jewish community for answers, to fill a void they have discovered in their lives. In order to make them feel more at home, the Jewish community inspires these young adults to take charge and become leaders. They are encouraged to plan and execute their own community programs and holiday celebrations, so they can instill them with ways that would interest their own generation, and encourage others of their age group to become more invested in the community.


As a teacher, I have similarly found that assigning authentic assignments empowers my students to go the extra mile, to think deeply about what they are asked to do, and to truly learn from the experience. For instance, we held a debate, and the topic was decided by the students. Because they chose their own topic, they were particularly interested in defending their own beliefs, just as the Jewish youth of Poland are encouraged to put significant effort into activities and events that they choose to organize.


We were fortunate to experience these young people’s creativity first-hand. Covering the walls of both the Warsaw and Krakow JCCs were posters advertising upcoming events, reminiscent of a student center at a university and including a basketball tournament, book discussions, Sunday  brunch (popular with young adults everywhere seeking to cure their hangovers). All of these activities were quite simply things that I, or any young adult, would partake in anyway, whether it is a Jewish event or not.


To me, this is what sets this community apart, the idea that the Jewish community can be involved in every single aspect of life. Instead of associating Judaism with Hebrew school and studying for a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, the Jewish community is a place for community and leisure, a center of life for every age group, for every hobby, for every interest. Anything you would like to do can be put in a Jewish context, creating a bond that extends beyond tradition. The connection to Judaism is then transformed into friendship, family, recreation, and everything in between.


This past May, I left Poland with an incredibly positive outlook on the Polish Jewish community. The community is building leaders who are preparing to carry on the Jewish traditions for generations to come, planting the seeds for growth in the coming years. I hope to return to Poland someday, perhaps with children of my own, to see a Jewish community that is strong and proud, and that has influenced Jewish life around the world.


Rebecca Haas, a Londonderry native and resident, currently serves as a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow in Rishon LeZion, Israel. She graduated in 2015 from the University of Maryland, College Park with a degree in elementary education.



Originally Published in the New Hampshire Jewish Reporter.

Cleveland Jewish News: Financial assistance available for gap years

Cleveland Jewish News: Financial assistance available for gap years

August 5, 2016

By Carlo Wolff


Another possible source of money is Masa Israel, an Israeli program that can supplement other gap year resources. A high school student interested in a gap year can apply to Masa Israel for “financial aid above what the normal amount would be,” she said. “They definitely should apply to the program that they’re going on to see if there’s financial aid from the program.”

This one time on my Masa Israel program…

<div class="masa-blog-title">This one time on my Masa Israel program…</div>

Video: Cash Cab episode recently  re-aired on Mako


Sometimes living in Israel I encounter things that really jog my memory. Every colorful scene, aromatic walk through the streets, or even just surfing my social media feeds (Thank you #ThrowBackThursday!) reminds me of a good time from my Masa Israel experience. 


That is what happened this morning. I opened my Facebook feed to see a suggested video from Mako, a popular Israeli television station. The video was an episode of Cash Cab—in this game show meets transportation service participants have the chance to win money by answering trivia questions on the ride to their destination. I love to test my trivia knowledge, so I pressed play only to see four familiar faces. There they were -- David (Los Angeles), Thalia (Argentina), Dov (France), and Grant (Texas) — friends of mine from my time as a Masa participant on Destination Israel’s Tel Aviv Internship Experience.




In the episode they tell the cab driver to take them to beachside club, Clara, and that was the ticket to this trip down memory lane. Clara? Yea, I remember that night! Our whole program was there for a party. When you’re on the program these people become your family so going out to something together was a common occurrence. We were all waiting in line for various groups of us to arrive (you can’t fit 30 people in one cab) when the four of them walk up with huge smiles on their faces, yelling and laughing with excitement.


“What’s up guys? What took you so long?”


“We just won 4,500 shekel! We were on Israeli Cash Cab!”


Needless to say, this was a good omen for the night. We had a great time dancing the night away with the sea breeze keeping things cool; a nice break from working hard at our internships. And of course, we made memories to last us a lifetime.


Written by Amy Albertson


The Jewish Chronicle: Community Jew'colades

The Jewish Chronicle: Community Jew'colades

The Jewish Chronicle: Community Jew'colades

July 21, 2016

Masa Israel Journey's new Director of Partnerhips in the United States, Jessica Schapiro was featured in her hometown's Jewish newspaper!