Volunteer | Masa Israel

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Bring on the Tears, an MITF Story By Allison Paisner">Bring on the Tears, an MITF Story By Allison Paisner

Posted August 7th, 2016

And so, one by one the goodbyes commence. Doors are closing and I’m currently in this limbo where none are yet opening. Goodbye to school, to Petach Tikva, to Masa Israel Teaching Fellows, to Israel Experience, to my volunteer project with the Petach Tikva Department of Environment Education, and to my friends and family in this special country.

 

The first farewell was at Yeshurun for the end of the school year. The week before our last day, one of the 7th grade classes we work with threw us a surprise party! We walked into the classroom unsuspectingly, only to be bombarded with 30 students and balloons, singing, food, and an Israeli style מסיבה (meh-see-ba: party).

 

We all shared our summer plans and what we loved about working together. Hopefully, some of our students will stay in touch. We took our balloons with us out of school and released them together in our own little goodbye ceremony. As for the rest of the classes, we didn’t really have an official goodbye, but Emily and I made a video for the Petach Tikva MITF closing ceremony with some of our favorite 8th and 9th graders, which you can check out HERE. The purpose? To debut the video as a thank you from our school to the rest of the Petach Tikva MITF. It was my first time experimenting with iMovie… let’s just say I won’t be the next Spielberg.

 

The next goodbye was to my actual role as a teacher. Israel Experience had us plan a closing ceremony, in which we thanked our host teachers, host families, and the people who helped make our transitions this year into the Israel and teaching worlds easier. My host teacher, Shlomit (another teacher we work with who is amazing), and the librarian Batia (whom we got very close to throughout the year) all showed up. We closed out the year together with the rest of the English team (or the “E-Team” as we call ourselves) at Chagit’s house with a little get-together. Potluck style, we shared our thank you’s as well as received many (in addition to beautiful silver Shabbat candle holders) and had a last shebang recapping the year and sharing our future/summer plans. Will miss my Yeshurun community dearly, and only leave with fond (and funny) memories!

 

Another goodbye that went out with a bang was with the Petach Tikva Department of Environmental Education. As you’d know if you’ve been reading my blog throughout the year, this center has become one of my homes in Petach Tikva. From volunteering at the garden on Tuesdays and getting a glimpse of the composting program at the gans (kindergartens) in Petach Tikva, to working on a lecture on Adaptive and Resilient Cities with the office staff, it was nothing but a pleasure (in the end). Frustrating for me at times, because of the Israeli work style and process, is topsy-turvy from the States, I learned patience, sympathy in the workplace, and the importance of synergy among a group of people from all different backgrounds and ages.

 

As part of the culmination of my volunteer service, the director of the office and I set a date for me to present my lecture on Adaptive and Resilient Cities to members of neighboring municipalities… in English, of course. For nearly 2 hours I presented on concepts of vulnerability, mitigation, adaptation, resiliency, and sustainability, drawing case studies from around the world for best practices and policy implementation strategies. The entire audience was interactive, welcoming, and receptive to the material so it was overall an amazing experience for me to be able to present my research in a more formal setting to people. The following week I said my final goodbye to the office, where they presented me with a memory jar (sustainably made, obviously) and warm wishes for my future. I know we will continue to stay in touch, and I am genuinely interested to continue seeing the innovative educational initiatives the department comes up with.

 

Another tough goodbye was with my host family in PTK. Although I have a lot of blood relatives in Israel, I was also lucky enough to share a host family with two of my roommates. Genuinely some of the warmest and most giving people I know, I will miss Sigi and her wonderful family dearly. I spent a few amazing Shabbats there, but throughout the year we’ve come to get to know each other pretty well, and even though my host mom and dad barely speak English (as well as my two younger “host brothers”), it hasn’t stopped us from connecting and growing closer. I’ve had a taste of the best Yemenite food I’ve had in Israel (by far), the longest Shabbat dinners (seriously talking 6 hours here people), and running out of ways to express that I’m full and don’t want more food. So thank you Sigi for welcoming me into your beautiful family, and for treating me like one of your own <3

 

And then came the goodbye to MITF at HaYarkon Park in TLV. All of the Israel Teaching Fellows from around the country came to hear the CEO of Masa Israel and our Pedagogical Advisor from the Ministry of Education, among others, thank us for our work and spend a relaxing night celebrating the end of our experience. With free booze, a diploma and dope portable speakers as a little parting gift, it was a beautiful night and atmosphere, with lots of goodbyes to my friends from other cities.

 

The last MITF goodbye was just with Petach Tikva and Rishon, thanks to Israel Experience and our closing tiyul. This is the group we started off with August 27th when we met in Kiryat Moriah for the first time, and it’s the same group we are ending with on June 27th. Thankfully (and amazingly), we had some money left over in our budget, so Israel Experience spared no expense on this one! We rafted down the Jordan River (which had more than 6 inches of water in it this time!), enjoyed a BBQ buffet by the water (wow, how I miss BBQ), spent one day at a beautiful “resort” on the Kinneret, and ended the trip back at Zichron Ya’akov where we had our first seminar back in September. The meals were lavish, and I ate enough kosher meat to last me until my next trip to Israel… or so I say for now.

 

In addition to the physically packed schedule was the equally emotionally packed one as well. In a series of reflection activities, our group shared the ups and downs, favorite and worst moments, and highlights and regrets of the year. The 14 fellows in Petach Tikvah also had our own reflections, where we filled out private notes for each other in little memory boxes, crafted by our Madricha, Amit. I even debuted my ukulele playing skills (or lack thereof) when one of the Petach Tikvah Fellows performed a song he wrote for the group. The whole tiyul was surreal because of a lot of the people in the cohort I really didn’t get to know so well even after a year. It was a strange feeling for the final doors of MITF to be closing, and the tears and sobs began. Two weeks later, and I’m magically hydrated enough to cry nearly every day.

 

But the journey isn’t over yet. I’m still here until July 18th, and after all of these goodbyes to MITF, I still had all of my closest friends and family. For our last Friday Shabbat dinner altogether, we had a giant potluck at one of my friends’ boyfriend’s apartment in Tel Aviv. Roi and I contributed with Mac and Cheese (which apparently Israelis aren’t too familiar with), homemade onion rings, and my favorite Israeli salad with nishnooshim (it’s good, trust me).

 

Emily and I brought the skits we wrote for our English day, and after a few drinks, we had our boyfriends and friends act them out! Hands down one of the funniest things I was lucky enough to witness. Another favorite game is a three-round combination of taboo, one-word giveaway, and charades with the same series of words/phrases. Major כל הכבוד to the Israelis in the house whose first language (and for some, even second language) isn’t English. Truly a night filled with laughter and love that I will never forget.

 

And with that, I’ll end the last bit of my Masa experience. 10 of the most amazing months that were the best gift I could’ve given myself. Rolling into July, I am lucky enough to have three weeks of “Israel Closure.” Stay tuned for following posts about my trip to Eilat, my goodbyes to friends, family, and loved ones, and for my closing tiyul (self-planned) to Jerusalem at Neve, a Women’s Jewish Learning Program. While the tears are still coming, it’s time to start getting excited about the future because… no one knows what it will hold…

 

 

Top 16 Masa Israel Moments of 2016">Top 16 Masa Israel Moments of 2016

Posted August 5th, 2016

 

Each year we find ourselves turning the pages of the calendar more quickly, and what packed pages they are. Here at Masa Israel we have had yet another amazing year of programming and events, both in Israel and across the globe. Now in our 13th year, we’ve surpassed 120,000 alumni, and have begun a number of great new initiatives.

 

Take a brief look at the Top 16 Masa Moments of 2016:

 

1. Make Your Journey Matter Gap Fair


On February 21st we hosted a back-to-campus fair for our Gap Year participants bringing representatives from Israel Advocacy and Jewish campus organizations to show participants the many opportunities available to them when they return from their year in Israel.

 

2. Samsung Tel Aviv Marathon with #TeamMasa


On 26 February over 100 Masa participants, alumni, organizers, and staff participated in the annual Samsung Tel Aviv Marathon as part of the first ever #Team Masa. 
 

3. Masa L’Maaseh  


In March, 40 of our Yeshiva students went on the first Masa L’Maaseh, a four day journey , cosponsored by Yeshiva University and WZO, to explore Israel's ever-changing landscape as they visited places and met people that are driving a positive change in Israeli society, while enjoying an exciting group experience with participants from many different Jewish Studies programs. 
 

4. Yom Hazikaron Ceremony at Latrun


This May 5,000 participants and Masa partners mourned Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terror together at our impactful Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day) Ceremony at Latrun, the largest English language ceremony in Israel.
 

5. Ventures in the Capitol: JLM Young Professional Night


May 30th over 200 post-college & academic participants gathered at JVP Media Quarter in Jerusalem for a night of professional development sessions with top Israeli professionals, followed by a networking cocktail hour with top Israeli companies.
 

6. Culture Shuk


With a dozen performers, authors and artists, from legendary author Amos Oz, to Ethiopian hip hop sensation Café Shahor Hazak, 1,000 participants took an inside look at Israeli Culture. 
 

7. Global Program Fairs


From Brazil to Berlin, the UK to Ukraine, our global team of Regional Masa Representatives have spoken to tens of thousands of potential participants at their events and fairs throughout the world.
 

8. MasaID


In partnership with the Genesis Philanthropy Group, Masa takes thousands of Russian-speaking participants on 5 day journeys to explore Israel and Jewish peoplehood and identity through experiencing land, history, and people.
 

9. Masa Desert Project


This summer part of our Masa Ambassador’s team set up shop in popular Taglit spots Kfar Hanokdim and Han Hashayarot to share with over 750 Taglit-Birthright groups how they can get back to Israel.
 

10. The Matzpen Program


Focusing on building capacity in the field, our educational department implemented a series of day-long seminars for our program organizers. The curriculum focuses on pedagogical principles, skill building, current trends and issues in the field of education, and best practices for identity building in emerging adults.
 

11. My Masa Mega Event


Over 3,000 Masa participants gathered in Jerusalem for our annual My Masa event to kick-off our 2016-2017 year of programs. Word on the street is that this was one of the best events yet!
 

12. MITF Levinsky Teaching Certificate Program


With a class of 18, this October marked the beginning of our new English Teaching Certificate Program for MITF participants in partnership with Israel’s Ministry of Education and Levinsky College.
 

13. Partnership with The Forward


People are talking about Masa and The Forward decided they want to as well. This year we officially began a partnership with their new lifestyle section, Scribe. Check out 2 articles by Masa participants here and here.
 

14. JFNA General Assembly


Our alumni delegation networked with GA goers, and helped spread the word about Masa at our awesome expo booth. We also held an inspiring meeting with Natan Sharansky and a very well-attended (and fun!) joint VIP reception with Onward Israel. 
 

15. Masa-GLI Global Leadership Summit & Tracks


This November our Masa-GLI Leadership Accelerator put on another successful Masa-GLI Global Leadership Summit, in Jerusalem, with generous support from the Wilf Family Foundation. We are particularly proud of the growth of the exposure tracks which allow participants to take their training into the field. Here are this year's tracks: 

  • FSU Participants Masa-GLI Leadership Fellowship, with support by the Genesis Philanthropy Group
  • Hillel Masa-GLI Leadership Fellowship 
  • JFNA Masa-GLI Leadership Fellowship
  • WUPJ / HUC-JIR Masa-GLI Leadership Fellowship
  • Israel Dialog Masa-GLI Leadership Fellowship
  • WeWork Masa-GLI Business & Innovation Leadership Fellowship
  • Masa Influencers

 

16. North America Career Development Delegation


This November our Director of Business Development International, Adi Barel, and Director iof business Development North America, Adi Hila, hosted career development professionals from North American Universities for a week in Israel, taking them to visit various professional development programs, and immerse themselves in the Israeli start-up ecosystem.

 

Written by Amy Albertson, Creative Content Manager, Masa Israel Journey
 

 

A Look Inside MITF’s Youth Village Location with Deena Martin">A Look Inside MITF’s Youth Village Location with Deena Martin

Posted August 4th, 2016

At the time I decided to spend a year abroad on Masa Israel Teaching Fellows my life was in a whirlwind. For a long time I had a desire to volunteer abroad and with my current situation, I had to take the plunge. I researched different regions and programs throughout the world yet, something within my heart was always drawn to Israel.

 

I knew I could choose to go where ever I wanted, but Israel had a hold on me. I knew it was the right place to spend this year giving back to my people in our homeland. Although the decision to go to Israel was easy, I was concerned about language barriers, since my Hebrew skills from my Bat Mitzvah era were long gone, plus I had no friends or family in Israel.

 

Everyone and I mean EVERYONE thought I was crazy. People asked me “are you scared, isn’t Israel always at war?” “Why would you go somewhere you don’t speak the language and know no one?” I took these questions in stride and smiled.

 

My only response was “No, Israel is amazing and not dangerous” and “yes, I am crazy.”

 

I come from a strong Zionist home where Israel, Jewish life and strong connection to giving to the Jewish people was fostered and encouraged.

 

So, my mind was made up, I was like I said before, taking the plunge and going to Israel. I was so blessed to have a family who not only supported my decision but also encouraged me to go and give back to our homeland.

 

When my plane landed in Tel Aviv, I was every feeling emotion under the sun. It all didn’t seem real on the ride over- it felt like a quick trip and then I would home in a few weeks. When I got to the youth village is when it all started to sink in.

 

The first few months of school were tough. I took part in the pilot program of the Youth Villages for Masa Israel Teaching Fellows and we were year one and the very first participants to experience teaching in a youth village. To give the expression, too many cooks in the kitchen would be an understatement. You’ll learn soon that although Israel is the startup nation and uber successful, things can sometimes be a balagon (a mess). With that being said the beginning of my MITF program, there were a lot of people and organizations trying to make it the best it could possibly be, which at times was frustrating.

 

It took until the winter for there to be some clear direction and method to the madness of starting a new program. By the first break, the program seemed to have found its rhythm. Everything was on track. Being with the students in the midst of all the bumps of the program was the highlight and being able to work with them in a way that the teachers were unable to make me feel like I was truly doing what I came to Israel to do, make an impact.

 

I held many late night study groups and early morning prep sessions. I worked with the students on their chores and had meals with them in the evening. The students took me in as a friend and mentor, which made the Youth Village feel like home.

 

Through the support of the village community, I was able to have the confidence to explore Israel and fell in love with the desert, the cities and all of Israel’s wonders. I ventured from the North to the South, heard stories from Israelis, made friends with members outside the Jewish community, learned about the challenges each community faces, saw the diversity and freedom each community has in Israel.

 

I saw the amazing landscapes, enjoyed Shabbat meals with strangers that felt like family, cried when there was conflict, prayed for safety, discovered the depth of social, political and community issues facing this land. My Zionism became even stronger and I reconnected with my Jewish roots in a way that I thought I never would. I have always been an advocate for Israel, now I find myself to be a fierce and loyal ally. Always standing up for her rights, not afraid of engaging with people who want to see Israel off the map or try to misrepresent it.

 

I came back to America stronger in so many ways, but I am strongest now in my love, loyalty, and devotion to protect Israel. I came back home with my heart still in in Israel, ready and prepared to do my part in protecting Israel and the Jewish people.

 

10 Reasons to Spend 10 Months in Israel">10 Reasons to Spend 10 Months in Israel

Posted August 1st, 2016

Whether you love to teach, know or want to explore a thing or two about Judaism or just want an excuse to live in Israel, spending ten months as a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow is the perfect amount of time to soak up everything the Holy Land has to offer.

 

 

1.September | Kick Off the High Holidays

Even though this year the high holidays are unusually late, nine times out of 10 September will be a month filled with opportunities to acquaint yourself with this new country at your fingertips. Since there’s no school during the holidays and the weather is still in summer mode, as an MITF-er you’ll be free to make the most of these days. Relax on the beach with an iced café, take a trip somewhere new, find a host family or randomly meet some amazing Israelis that’ll undoubtedly invite you to their family table for Rosh Hashanah dinners, or journey to Jerusalem for Yom Kippur.

 

 

2. October | Forget the Candy Corn

Spending October in Israel means you can substitute the candy corn and Pumpkin Spice Lattes with fresh Israeli-grown dates and pomegranates…indicating that Sukkot is here and the fall harvest is in full swing. Every street you walk down is full of bamboo sukkahs that completely dominate any ordinary balcony or porch. Chances are, you’ll be eating in one of these at a local cafe at some point during October. But, remember, as a teacher in Israel, it’s also vacation time and the perfect chance to sneak in a hike at the Golan Heights or chill at the wineries up North.

 

 

3. November | BYOT (Bring Your Own Turkey)

If you’re American or Canadian, then November is the month to let the world know it…I’m talking about Thanksgiving! Israeli’s don’t have any equivalent, although most would argue that a Thanksgiving-sized feast is a typical Shabbat. This is your chance to flaunt the “foreign” card and educate your students about American history, aka pilgrims, Native Americans, the value of turkeys, and of course, about being grateful. Throw some culture into your school, host a Thanksgiving play, watch Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, get creative and give these kids a Thanksgiving they’ll never forget!

 

 

4. December | Devour those Donuts

Diets don’t exist when it’s December in Israel, usually around the Hanukkah season. Your motto this month is, if it’s fried you eat it. Israeli stores are overflowing with סופגניות (sufganiyot) or in English, donuts. You’ll be able to choose from the original Jelly donut to crazy combos like Oreo crème and Pistachio crumble. And these babies will exceed beyond your wildest dreams… the miracle of the oil is amazing.

 

 

5. January | Put those Jackets On!

Now that it’s finally cold in Israel, something you didn’t believe could be true, it’s time to pull out your jacket. Whether you rock a pea coat, leather jacket, or Northface, make sure to keep it close by so you don’t freeze! Oh, and I almost forget, January welcomes the holiday of Tu’Bishvat which means the teacher’s lounge will be full of nuts and dried fruit, the perfect way to help you shed off those post-Hanukkah pounds!

 

 

6. February | The 6-Month Mark

Yes, in Israel it’s still cold. However, I recommend warming up with Shabbat. February is your 6-month mark in Israel and if you haven’t spent endless Friday nights with friends or your host family eating yourself into a food coma… WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? Yes, you can celebrate Shabbat in your home country, but there is nowhere else in the world that does Shabbat like Israel. If you like to eat, Shabbat is for you. If you like to sleep, Shabbat is for you. If you like to do nothing or do anything, Shabbat is for you.

 

 

7. March | Halloween Will Never Be the Same

If you thought you’d be missing out on Halloween for the year by moving to Israel for ten months, just wait until you get to Purim. Three weeks before the holiday even starts, students come to school dressed in costume and classes will flip topsy-turvey. You’ll be smiling from ear to ear eating delicious Hamantashen, enjoying the three-day vacation you’ll get to spend Purim party hopping. It’s guaranteed to be a holiday you’ll never forget… you’ll even keep your costume for the next ten years to prove it.

 

 

8. April | Let the Adventure Begin

And just as Hamantashen leave the store shelves, boxes of matzah take their place. Passover is the theme for April as schools are off for two whole weeks in celebration of the holiday. Whether you choose to stay in the Holy Land and enjoy the warming weather while eating authentic matzah, or take full advantage of having two weeks off and go on a crazy European adventure, the month of April is promising as a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow.

 

 

9. May | Did Someone Say Street Party?

At this point, Israel is part of who you are. And what better way to express this passion and love than Yom Hatzmaut…Israel’s version of the 4th of July, Memorial Day, and Labor Day all pooled into one giant national pride holiday. Israeli flag swag will pop-up, and streets will bleed blue and white. You’ll be invited to more barbecues (which do not mean hotdogs and hamburgers) than you can count. You’ll be drowning in a sea of people who love Israel just as much as you do and want the world to know it. Celebrate the Independence of this beloved country like never before!

 

 

10. June | And That’s A Wrap!

The heat is back on, school years are ending and the goodbyes are commencing. You well up with emotion every time you see your students because you’re still in shock that it’s almost over. This is the month to go mad with everything you haven’t had a chance to do in Israel yet. Make the most of this month eating all of your favorite foods and saying meaningful goodbyes to friends and new family, promising each other it won’t be long until you meet again.

 

 

Becoming a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow will change you. The ten magical months will be filled with love, heartache and passion, but they’ll be worth every second. Take it from me, live each of the ten months to its fullest.

 

Written by Allison Paisner, MITF Alumna

 

Inside Tel Aviv University's Study Abroad + Internship Program with Dana Sherman">Inside Tel Aviv University's Study Abroad + Internship Program with Dana Sherman

Posted July 17th, 2016

My experience at Tel Aviv University was incomparable to any other internship or abroad experience I had in the past. I spent seven months living in Tel Aviv, in which both the semester abroad and internship portion exposed me to new and exciting aspects of Israeli life, culture, society, and religion. 

 

I chose to study abroad in Tel Aviv for a specific reason. Ever since my first visit to Israel in 2011, I have been curious about the intricacies that plague Israel's political, social, and economic sectors. In 2011 when I traveled to Israel with a youth group, we were brought to Rothschild Boulevard to see the social justice protests taking place. For miles, we saw tents, makeshift houses, posters, and protesters. I recognized that Israel was not just a state that I was expected to love as a Jew, but rather had real issues affecting the livelihoods of its citizens, whether they were Jewish, Muslim, or anything else. As I study criminal justice and international affairs at the George Washington University in D.C., I am interested in learning about how different judicial and political systems affect civil societies advancements in modern culture. Therefore, studying abroad in the modern, flourishing city of Tel Aviv seemed like my best option.

 


After a five month semester at Tel Aviv University, I was able to take many classes in Israeli politics, Middle Eastern history, and Hebrew from a wide range of professors. My understanding of the paradoxical dynamics of Israeli society expanded more than I expected. Towards the end of the semester, I landed an internship at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies; a think tank that produces policy-relevant research and recommendations on national security and foreign policy as it relates to Israel and Middle Eastern issues. I worked as a Research Assistant for the director of the center, Efraim Inbar. At my internship, I independently contributed to three separate projects regarding Australian-Israeli relations, Abu Mazen's current standing in the PA, and Israel's interest in the Chinese economy. I participated in international conferences, table talks, and strategic tours in the West Bank and on IDF bases. My experience with the Begin-Sadat Center was remarkable. Choosing to stay in Tel Aviv this summer and work for a company in a country that has so much to offer in my field of study was the best decision I could have made.

 

 


My seven months living in Tel Aviv surpassed any previous experience I ever had. Leaving America in January and knowing I would not be home until late July seemed like a long time to be away from friends and family, but looking at the big picture and seeing everything I gained from this experience, I could do it for another seven months. I recommend the semester and summer internship program to anyone who is willing to step out of their comfort zone just a little bit and trust the people of Israel to take them in, teach them, and help show them what they can accomplish in such a short period. I'm grateful and thankful for the friends I made, the professors who educated me, and my colleagues who taught me.

 

 

Written by Dana Sherman, Tel Aviv University Alumna '16

 


 

 

11 PEOPLE YOU MUST MEET WHILE STUDYING ABROAD IN ISRAEL">11 PEOPLE YOU MUST MEET WHILE STUDYING ABROAD IN ISRAEL

Posted June 15th, 2016

 

By Andria Kaplan Aylyarov 

 

Studying abroad is a magical time. It’s a wonderful opportunity to expose yourself to new cultures, languages and most of all meet new people. Whether you’re venturing on this semester abroad with a gang from your home university or flying solo put meeting these 11 people at the top of your to-do list. It’ll make your Israel experience well worth it.

 

 

1. The Kibbutznik

 

 

A kibbutz is a place you heard your parents or grandparents speak about; it was the “birthright” experience of the 1960’s. The people living on the kibbutz, known as the kibbutznik shaped your parent’s vision of Israel. Meet someone who lives on or is from a kibbutz and learn about the kibbutz life and its contribution to Israel. (source: youtube.com/etian666)

 

2. The Falafel or Pizza Guy (a.k.a. your go-to food person)

 

You’re going to be out late while studying abroad and the best way to end your night is a greasy piece of pizza or a cheap falafel. Find your go-to food guy and make friends so he knows your order as soon as he sees you. If you’re in Tel Aviv I recommend the pizza shop on King George and HaMaccabi (1212 Rehov HaMaccabi ).

 

3. People from around the world

 

Israel is an extremely diverse country that welcomes students, travelers. and tourists from every corner of the world. Be sure to meet someone from an exotic country like Brazil, South Africa or Ethiopia!

 

4. The Cofix or Aroma Barista

 

Israelis drink a lot of coffee, and since you’re in Israel why not act Israeli and befriend your local Cofix or Aroma barista so you won’t have to wait in line. You’ll be lucky if you live next to a Cofix bar and the barista is a bartender at night!

 

5. A Super Intellectual Professor

 

Most of the professors in Israel are the world’s leading innovators in their specific field. Be a good student on your semester abroad and take the time to learn how their minds work. It will shock you how much your brain will expand from these conversations!

 

6. The Startup Guy or Girl

 

There’s a good chance that in the Startup Nation you’ll frequently meet entrepreneurs. It’s like every person on the street in Israel has a startup. Meet them and see if you can crack the code of how Israeli startups are so darn successful.

 

7. Olim Chadashim

 

An olim chadash is someone who has moved from their native country to Israel, otherwise known as making aliyah. Learn about how others from different parts of the world come to Israel to seek employment opportunities and benefit from Israel’s growing economy.

 

8. The Local

 

You need to have that special person to give you the not-so-secret, top secret advice on restaurants, bars and things to do that aren’t going to pop up in a Google search. You’ll meet them in class or they’ll live next to you in your dorm. Look to them for everyday advice.

 

9. Your Crush

 

The boys and girls of Israel are amongst the most beautiful in the world. It’s without a doubt that’ll you have a tincy wincy crush on at least one person while studying abroad – it’s okay. A little crush never hurt (and you never know, that person could end up being your crush for a lifetime).

 

10. The History Buff

 

There is about an 80% chance you won’t be paying attention to the organized tours through your study abroad program, which is why you need to befriend the history buff. They know all the history of Israel and will tell it to you in a way you’ll understand.

 

11. Your Best Friend

 

The best thing about studying abroad is growing as a person and discovering who you are with people you care about. You will need a shoulder to cry on when you are homesick or frustrated by new customs. That shoulder you will lean on is your new best friend abroad.

 

You’ll spend weekends exploring and before you even leave Israel you will already have plans to meet when you’re stateside. No one but this person will understand the experiences you’ve had and how life changing spending a semester in Israel really was. You’ll be friends with this person until you are old and gray and most importantly you will constantly relive the incredible times you shared in Israel.

 

 

 

Andria Kaplan Aylyarov is a Masa Israel & Career Israel 18 Alumna. Andria works as the content marketing specialist for Masa Israel Journey. She loves a good glass of white wine and wishes she was 85-years-old and living in Boca, but she currently resides in Brooklyn.

 

"WHAT ABOUT SHABBAT?" 8 WAYS TO ‘LIVE IT UP’ ON SATURDAYS IN JERUSALEM">"WHAT ABOUT SHABBAT?" 8 WAYS TO ‘LIVE IT UP’ ON SATURDAYS IN JERUSALEM

Posted May 25th, 2016

 

By: Andria Kaplan Aylyarov

 

 

The common thought is that a cloud of stillness hangs over Jerusalem from Friday night until Saturday night but if you dig deep you’ll see pockets of the city remain vibrant.

 

Here are 8 ways to ‘Live it Up’ on Saturday in Jerusalem:

 

1. CAFES

Wake up and grab brunch. You know you want too! These cafes are surely open and waiting for you to arrive with sunglasses on and bedhead. Here are a few suggestions:

Menza

Bet Haqawe

Adom

 

2. TAKE A WALK

Burn off your brunch by taking a stroll in these fabulous parks and ancient paths:

The Ramparts Walk and get a high perspective of the ancient walls.

Jerusalem Botanical Gardens

Train Track Park

 

3. GO ON A FREE TOUR

Take the opportunity to learn the secret of your new home from a local. The Jerusalem municipality offers great free walking tours of numerous Jerusalem neighborhoods.

 

4. GRAB A DRINK

Drink at the Link. Visit the bar that’s in a 100-year-old building with an extensive beer and wine list. You’ll be able to enjoy a green landscape and great company.

 

If you prefer the hipster route then boogie down to old records at HaTaklit. The vibe is good and the drinks and better. It’s also uber affordable.

 

5. SEE A CONCERT

Ruach Chadasha offers free concert most Saturdays of the month for young adults that are free or by donation. The website is in Hebrew but you can translate it or message them for info.

 

6. GET DESSERT

Visit the Ein Karem neighborhood and grab treats from Sweet N’Karem chocolate shop. There are also artisan workshops and historic churches nearby!

 

7. VISIT THE ZOO

Grab your friends and see what Noah’s Ark was really about. Take a day trip to the Biblical Zoo.

 

8. GET NERDY

Embrace the past and present by touring the Israel Museum and Rockefeller Archeological Museum. If you’re into science the head over to the Bloomfield Science Museum.

 

 

 

Andria is a Masa Israel Alumna and content marketing specialist for Masa Israel Journey. She loves a good glass of white wine and wishes she was 85-years-old and living in Boca, but she currently resides in Brooklyn.

 

 

 

 

 

Career Israel: Daniel Vapne Profile ">Career Israel: Daniel Vapne Profile

Posted May 13th, 2016

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Nullam lobortis ut mi et efficitur. Praesent egestas eros tellus. Nulla efficitur a justo sit amet porttitor. Integer ut massa rutrum orci varius posuere et sed urna. Morbi iaculis massa fringilla velit malesuada efficitur. Maecenas fringilla cursus orci. Suspendisse sit amet odio eget neque sodales semper a ut risus. Nam hendrerit lorem a ex egestas, non aliquet velit tempor. Proin ut rhoncus augue, id pretium massa. Integer et consectetur felis, a auctor velit. Nulla malesuada nunc tellus, eget condimentum erat consectetur ut. Maecenas ut lectus magna.

Morbi eget purus a nulla tincidunt rutrum. Curabitur auctor neque eu velit pellentesque sagittis. Duis ac odio lacus. Donec a nulla ut felis fermentum pulvinar. Donec lacus ligula, pulvinar ut arcu in, rutrum lacinia odio. Nunc in velit diam. Vivamus lobortis, leo non bibendum tempor, ante nunc placerat leo, vitae eleifend erat risus quis mi.

Curabitur accumsan libero erat, in placerat nulla interdum aliquam. Nunc eget ligula sem. Mauris vel imperdiet odio. Nullam consequat lorem rhoncus lectus feugiat, vel sagittis mauris imperdiet. Vestibulum a aliquam enim, nec laoreet tellus. Mauris feugiat, diam at sodales vulputate, ipsum arcu ultrices felis, id scelerisque elit tellus id nibh. Suspendisse egestas quam ut erat scelerisque, non vestibulum tortor venenatis. Donec nulla velit, dapibus id tincidunt eu, blandit sit amet elit. Suspendisse condimentum dui eget nibh sodales, ut finibus eros dignissim. Aliquam mattis condimentum augue vel pharetra. Phasellus et tellus vehicula, vulputate erat nec, elementum nisl. Nunc semper arcu in tellus aliquam feugiat. Mauris sed turpis urna. Aliquam tempus ipsum eget justo maximus, eu venenatis tellus bibendum. Nunc sit amet turpis in odio viverra finibus.

 

What Mothers are saying about Masa Israel">What Mothers are saying about Masa Israel

Posted May 5th, 2016

In the USA, Mother's Day is a special holiday meant to celebrate your mother and shower her with compliments and gifts. Sometimes, a great gift can consist of you going on a long term program in Israel. In honor of Mother’s Day, our gift is to highlight how much impact a Masa Israel participant gives to their parent and the Jewish people. 

 

By Nancy Iankowitz

 

 

 

 

Happy Mother's Day from Masa Israel! 

 

To learn more about Masa Israel programs, click here. 

 

Out of Chaos, Total Clarity">Out of Chaos, Total Clarity

Posted May 4th, 2016

A Yom Ha’Shoa tribute to my late grandmother (Esther Klein, 1918-2011), who did more than survive Auschwitz and Ravensbruck:  She defeated them.

 

To truly do justice to Esther Klein, I ought to invite you to my kitchen as I tell you about her. I would seat you in the corner on a rickety step stool, play some swing music, and let you peel some potatoes for my soup, or very slowly add the ground nuts into the egg whites for the highest rising Pesach cake in Bayswater, if not all of Queens.

 

While you were on that step stool, I would tell you stories about my childhood and my sisters and my parents, all gone. I would never cry. I would tell you in a way that never scared you or depressed you, but instead compelled you to bring the story forward, to your own kitchens, later.

 

I would sing along with the music and laugh at your jokes, whether or not they were funny, and I would tell you my distinct opinion on family life, world politics, fashion, economics, literature, or social etiquette.

 

Later, we would play Rummikub and I would scratch your back until you fell asleep. I would tell you stories about your father, when he was little, and how he reminded me in this way of my own father, and in that way, of you.

 

Without too much effort, I would tie you generations back, and tie myself generations forward, completely by the way, as you were dozing off.

 

You would never guess that my own wonderful childhood ended at the train tracks, until I would tell you that part, too. There was a perfect sense that nightmarish evil was absolutely real, and also that, most decisively… “Ve Von.”

We won because, when you are not sitting on that step stool, I am using it, well into my 80’s, to climb to reach things from the top cabinet, teaching you that it’s all about balance.

 

I tell you about my very religious and learned father who learned at the Shabbat table with my mother, back when most European women were learning the Tzena Re’enna. Who sent his sons to yeshiva and expected them to work, like he did. I would tell you how my mother, Nechama, prepared blueberry jam for stomach ailments, because she was known as something of a medicine woman around town, and, like my father’s dry-goods store, her kitchen was a regular stop for the local poor.

 

I would create a seamless flow from the Hershkowitz’s charitable and intellectual kitchen in Seredna to my short but horrific stay in Auschwitz and then Ravensbruck, where I was sustained by my nieces, teenagers of whom my sisters put me in charge… and then right back to the kitchen where we now sit, making potato soup.

 

Which, if I were my grandmother, would bring me back to my mother, who told me on our first day in Auschwitz, when we were being processed into our potato sacks, to ignore the SS, just as I had ignored the goats and the cows back home. My mother had reminded me, in those two weeks we were together before she disappeared in a cloud over Poland, who was the human being in this situation, and what that demanded of me. I remembered, and reminded, every day since.

 

What it meant to be human was to have both determination and balance. Empathy and a sense of justice. Respect for the dead and a total dedication to the living. To living. A sense of reverence and a sense of humor. Balance. Living modestly but mindful of aesthetics. A dedication and deep gratitude to America, and a complete devotion to and support of Israel. Work outside the home well into her 70’s, and family always first. Being equal parts emotional, intellectual, and physical. Torah classes, survivor’s meetings, family events, the gym. Shul and the beach, both healing.

 

Being realistic and optimistic – living on that delicate edge of facing down yesterday and expecting a reversal tomorrow, while completely in the present, today. My Grandma was Zen before anyone knew what that was, except maybe my uncle.

 

My grandmother’s life, you would soon see, was a “Dayenu” story. Thankful and disbelieving of every victory, and also always pushing the envelope toward the next one, the one that her father demanded that she pursue.

 

Esther Klein did things on her terms. She accepted God’s will. But to the greatest possible extent, it would be God’s… and Esther’s.

 

It was the endless winter that began 1945. My grandmother and her nieces had just been marched through the snow from Auschwitz to Ravensbruck. The Nazis felt that the end was near, and the final solution needed final solving. To accelerate matters, they put the women in an outdoor tent in sub-freezing weather. The calculations were correct. Half died the first night there. The survivors, my grandmother told me, slept very little, and when they did, it was standing or sitting, huddled in groups.

 

They also didn’t let go of their tin cups, because that way, they could drink hot soup, when it was available. Being and asthmatic since age 13, my grandmother got sick. Very sick. She did the forbidden and fell asleep. She thought she would not wake up. But then something crazy happened. She had a dream.

 

In that dream, her father, whom she had not seen since getting off the train on Shavuot of 1944, was standing near a window in a long white robe. She said it looked like a kittel. He asked her to come look out the window. He pointed actively to a tree with white blossoms, and told her: When the trees start to blossom white, you and Ibby and Helen will be free. Please wait.

 

So she woke up. She stood up. And she waited. And encouraged others to do the same. As her father promised, they were liberated in spring. The Swedish Red Cross took my grandmother and her nieces back to Sweden. When they disembarked this more benevolent train, they found that they had arrived in an orchard in full bloom. On every tree, white flowers.

 

This story, which every Klein grandchild has heard more than once, was Grandma’s way of saying that you need an inner guide, one that is firmly planted in your own authentic roots, but that you make yours, and tell it your way. You need to hang on and believe in God, but you need to do your part to make it so. She believed in Divine miracles made real only via human effort, which is the message of the first Esther, too. She believed in bearing witness to the past, and she believed in writing your own story going forward.

 

Grandma, I miss you terribly. A world without you is a strange place. But you taught us what your idyllic life before Auschwitz, and your unthinkable time there, taught you: how to balance on a rickety step stool while singing and reaching higher.

 

What more could we have asked to know?