Enrichment Day for Masa Israel Program Staff

Enrichment Day for Masa Israel Program Staff

October 28, 2013 (All day)

  Israel  - 

Are you a staff member of one of Masa Israel’s programs? Join us for an enrichment day designed just for you! 
Meet other program staff, share ideas and experiences, and take part in team-building exercises. Learn conflict resolution techniques, marketing skills, and much more.
October 28, November 24, December 25

Gillian Bodgas

Gillian Bodgas

Recruitment Systems Manager

Samantha Robins

Jennifer Rheuban

Jennifer Rheuban

Washington DC Regional Representative

Masa Works Provides Career Counseling to Job Hunters Interning in Israel

Masa Works Provides Career Counseling to Job Hunters Interning in Israel

Masa Works Provides Career Counseling to Job Hunters Interning in Israel

October 7, 2013

Masa Israel Journey announced a partnership with Jewish Family Services of Columbus to launch Masa Works, an initiative aimed at providing post-college Masa participants with the skills to land a job back home. 

 Each year, hundreds of college students and graduates distinguish themselves from their peers in a crowded job market by gaining serious work experience in Israel through Masa, immersing themselves in all sectors of the Israeli economy including education, law, medicine, business, arts, non-profit, and governmental agencies.


 However, many interns still lack practical guidance in translating their experience abroad into a compelling resume.


 This fall, 45 young adults interning in Israel will receive high-quality, one on one career counseling and hundreds more will participate in career skill-building workshops and webinars.


 "Interning in Israel is a unique, impactful experience, but it's hard to explain how it shaped me not only as a person but as a productive member of society, and a skilled worker," said Grace Parker, a Masa Career Israel participant recently accepted into Masa Works. "This program is a good opportunity to really distill my experiences for future interviews."


 This common sentiment prompted Masa Israel, a joint project of the Government of Israel and The Jewish Agency for Israel, to team up with Jewish Family Services of Columbus, a workforce development organization with 25 career strategists. "Masa Israel Journey changes people's lives through unique cultural and internship opportunities, and Jewish Family Services changes people's lives through helping them understand how these experiences will assist them in finding meaningful employment opportunities," states Jennifer Marshall, Chief Operating Officer of JFS.


 Masa will use the program to grow its network of employers in key US cities who recognize the value of hiring Masa alumni, building on a process started in 2011, when Masa brought 13 representatives from Fortune 500 companies to Israel to help Masa expand their internship offerings.


 "A lot of young adults are worried that coming to Israel for a five-month internship would be considered 'time off,'" says Avi Rubel, Executive Director of Masa Israel Journey, North America. "Yet we know from our numerous alumni who go on to get great jobs that it helped differentiate them from their peers and it's in actually 'time on' in every sense."


 Participants were selected to join the program based on an application process. Each participant will undergo an initial needs assessment to review their background and understand their unique skillset, resulting in an Individualized Employment Plan to ensure their professional goals are both identified and addressed.


 Additional components of the program are one-on-one coaching, personal brand development, resume creation and enhancement, interview preparation, training in effective usage of social media, job placement assistance, and local occupation information based on each participant's city and field, all to help each participant achieve their objectives.


 "I'm hoping to build my social media presence," added Parker, who interns at the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response. "There are avenues like LinkedIn where you can reach out to people and make connections beyond just submitting resumes, but I haven't developed that ability yet."


 Masa has partnered with JFS of Columbus in the pilot year of Masa Works because JFS offers a successful similar job assistance program, Growing Jewish Columbus. The program, which runs in conjunction with the Jewish Federation of Columbus and OSU Hillel, works to retain Jewish young adults in the region by providing employment services, building a stronger, sustainable Jewish community.


 "There are many more cities in the US struggling to attract and retain top talent, including Cleveland, Detroit, Baltimore, and even Chicago and Miami," Rubel says. "We want Masa Works to be an outlet to help those Jewish communities draw in exceptional young adults."


 Masa hopes to involve many other Jewish communities and Federations as the program develops. According to Masa's annual alumni exit survey conducted in August of 417 recent returnees who participated in post-college and study-abroad programs, 84% of respondents said they are interested in working for a Jewish organization. Masa Works could serve as an effective channel to connect alumni to opportunities in the Jewish world while giving them the tools to ensure they get noticed by employers.


 "Interning for the Peres Center for Peace prepared me for all aspects of the workspace I would go on to encounter in my job," says Daniel Cohen, a Career Israel alumnus who went on to work for the Jewish Theological Seminary before entering grad school. "While people in my program did get jobs, very few got them right after getting home. Having a program like Masa Works to provide professional resources could close the gap between Israel and working."



 For more information, visit http://works.masaisrael.org/



"Grace" - a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow's first day in the classroom

<div class="masa-blog-title">"Grace" - a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow's first day in the classroom</div>

I officially started teaching today. As my teaching partner, Brian was out of the country in order to attend a wedding in the States, I was by myself. I was worried that my students would have forgotten about me—seeing as I only visited them twice last month—but I had no reason to be worried as my students remembered me.

Yom Kippur Souls

<div class="masa-blog-title">Yom Kippur Souls</div>

God made Adam out of clay, and clay we remain. Bodies are doughy and malleable, and every morning you wake a fresh, blank slab. You can’t quite remember exactly what you are, what you look like, how it feels to be you; so every day you change, slowly, subtly, until your original self is forgotten.

Wishing Us A New Year of Activism

Wishing Us A New Year of Activism

September 12, 2013

Jewish organizations and philanthropists invest millions of dollars in sending young Jewish adults to Israel … knowing these young adults are the future of the Jewish community, and that these trips engender a stronger sense of Jewish identity. 
Yet our alumni often speak to us about the frustration they feel as they try to get involved upon their return.
by Avi Rubel
When 28 year-old Dina Silberstein got back from five months in Israel, she faced a turbulent period of transition. She began work as a real estate consultant but didn’t know how she could take her life-changing experience on Masa Israel’s WUJS Internship program in Tel Aviv and make it fit into her life in the United States. How could she translate her passion for Israel into practical action in the community now that she was back? She knew one thing for certain. She wanted to get involved.
“I got so much out of my experience in Israel and wanted to give back,” the native New Yorker recalls. “At the same time, I felt really out of place when I got home. I finally felt comfortable when I met other Masa alumni. I didn’t want anyone else coming home to feel how I felt; I wanted them to know they had a home base.”
Dina decided to channel her energy into creating a community for other long-term Israel program alumni, and helped to develop the flagship Masa Israel Alumni Board in the tri-state area.
In August, Dina and 70 other promising Masa Israel alumni came together for the first-ever Masa Israel National Alumni Retreat held at the Pearlstone Retreat Center in Maryland. The goal of the weekend was to promote the development of Masa Israel Alumni Associations in cities across North America, as well as to help alumni cultivate their passion for Israel engagement and active participation in their local Jewish communities.
Our alumni are excited to step up their involvement and bring their experiences home to share with other young Jews. 417 Masa participants who recently finished post-college and study-abroad programs completed our annual exit survey this August. 69% of respondents expressed that they would be interested in volunteering with a Jewish organization in the future and 72% want to participate in local Jewish or Israeli events. More than 50% of these Masa participants are Birthright alumni. They are looking to get involved in all facets of the Jewish world; roughly half of the new alumni said they are interested in opportunities in tikkun olam, Israel advocacy, and serving as “Israel Ambassadors.”
There are countless Jewish organizations looking to bring these blossoming leaders into the fold. Jewish organizations and philanthropists invest millions of dollars in sending young Jewish adults to Israel to drum up the kind of enthusiasm revealed in the survey result above, knowing these young adults are the future of the Jewish community, and that these trips engender a stronger sense of Jewish identity.
Yet our alumni often speak to us about the frustration they feel as they try to get involved upon their return. When our alumni come home, many organizations are only willing to engage them on the organization’s terms. Our alumni’s capabilities are often greatly underestimated by Jewish groups, and are rarely acknowledged for the intense, immersive time they spent in Israel, studying, interning and volunteering while living like locals. In fact, Masa Israel alumni are the single best resource for the next generation of leaders in Israel engagement within their local Jewish communities.
The importance of alumni associations
As Jon Marker noted in his recent article on eJP, alumni associations are crucial for fostering leadership and sustained engagement in participants’ local communities. The need to engage Jewish twenty-somethings on their own terms prompted us to help our returnees develop peer-led, regional Masa Alumni Associations. Previous Masa Israel alumni are uniquely able to help recent alumni process their experience and channel it into involvement in their communities.
An example we drew on when establishing our fledgling peer-led Alumni Boards was the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program Alumni Association (JETAA). JETAA is led by former program participants who volunteer their time to provide support for returning participants by offering assistance in securing employment, reintegration into their home community, cultural and social programming, and more. JETAA has 53,000 alumni with nearly 23,000 alumni registered as members of 52 regional alumni chapters located.
We are seeing Israel program alumni take on the responsibility of welcoming back their peers and growing our network, and keeping their passion alive by providing relevant programming. The Alumni Boards are structured around integrating our returnees into the wider Jewish community and promoting sustained interest in Israel. The depth of Masa alumni’s experiences uniquely position them to speak genuinely, authoritatively and eloquently about Israel.
“Masa alumni are unique advocates for Israel” explains Joanna Lieberman, a Masa alumna who now works for the American Jewish Committee. “We don’t approach it from a defensive standpoint, as is common in the traditional hasbara-style of Israel advocacy. We can talk about the amazing things our stay in the country afforded us, but we are also able to remove the rose-colored glasses and talk about societal issues.”
Creating the right community model
When the New York Masa Alumni Association was in its early stages, I arranged for Dina to meet with the UJA-Federation of New York to discuss how Masa Israel alumni could get involved, even if they weren’t ready to commit financially. I was skeptical – large community organizations have been known to mishandle their relationships with twenty-somethings.
However, I was pleasantly surprised to see Ezra Shanken, the head of UJA-Federation’s Emerging Leaders & Philanthropists division, welcome the Masa Israel alumni group into the fold as a separate “interest cluster,” and work with Dina on innovative ideas to develop and train the board members. He invited Dina, as the board chair, to sit on the committee of board chairs within the Emerging Leaders & Philanthropists division and welcomed her as a new young leader in Federation. Similar models are now developing in Washington DC, Miami, Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago and Los Angeles.
More Jewish Federations ought to step up to the plate and serve as the home base for Masa Israel program returnees to welcome returnees back and provide them an outlet for their drive to remain connected to Israel and the Jewish community. At the same time, they will be cultivating the next generation of local leadership by training the younger board members.
Paving the way
According to a study by The AVI CHAI Foundation, more than half of the leaders of the Jewish community have spent a period of at least five months in Israel. In a sense, that makes them Masa alumni too.
These leaders understand first-hand the difficulties young alumni face when coming home and moving into the next stage of their lives. That is why we hope Jewish professionals will reach out to us at Masa Israel Journey about mentoring our alumni or creating frameworks to welcome Israel program alumni as young leaders. We need local professionals and lay leaders to meet us half way to show recent returnees that there is a place for them within local Jewish organizations.
Inspired by their profound experiences in Israel, Masa alumni are ready and able to get involved and make a difference in their Jewish communities. We invested in them to bring them this far. Now that they are home, let’s empower them, and the Jewish community will see dividends for decades to come.
Avi Rubel is the Executive Director of Masa Israel Journey, North America.

Avital Elfant

Avital Elfant

Educational Project Manager

Gilad Peled