When Things Don't Go According to Plan

<div class="masa-blog-title">When Things Don't Go According to Plan </div>

By Jenn Handel, Israel Teaching Fellows
 
So what does a young American Jew with a bachelor’s degree in education and a Master’s degree in liberal arts do after the endless battle of job hunting? 
 
Well move to Israel, of course! 
 
Now that might sound a little crazy, but that’s exactly what I did—though it was never part of my life plan.
 

The Give and Take

<div class="masa-blog-title">The Give and Take </div>

By Danielle Longo, Israel Teaching Fellows
 
Growing up as a Conservative Jew in a suburb of Detroit, I knew the basics about Judaism and Israel.  
 
I attended Hillel Day School, celebrated holidays, went to shul, and believed in God.  
 
But at 17, my dad passed away and I pushed my religion aside.
 

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Israel Teaching Fellows - Israel Experience

Otzma becoming Jewish Agency program

Otzma becoming Jewish Agency program

January 8, 2013

NEW YORK (JTA) -- Otzma, the yearlong volunteer program in Israel, is being adopted by a subsidiary of the Jewish Agency for Israel.
The Jewish Federations of North America announced Nov. 1 that it was dropping the program and initiated a process to find another agency to take it over. Upon completion of this year's program, Otzma will be taken over by the Israel Experience Educational Tourism Services, a subsidiary of the Jewish Agency.
 
“We are confident the Israel Experience will help continue to provide the brand of life-changing Israel programs for young adults for which Otzma is known,” Michele Sackheim Wein, Otzma's chairwoman, said in a news release.
 
Over the past three decades, Otzma has sent more than 1,400 Jewish young adults from nearly 100 communities in North America to Israel. The Israel Experience specializes in organizing youth trips to Israel and already provides Otzma with logistical services.
 
“We are very excited to become the new home for Otzma,” said Erez Cohen, director of Israel Experience’s Long Term Program division. “We have known the program for years, and have been proud to be its logistical provider over the last several years. We believe in the program and are committed to doing everything we can to ensure its long-lasting success."

Originally published by JTA

The Shalom Hartman Institute and Masa Israel Offer New iEngage Fellows Program

The Shalom Hartman Institute and Masa Israel Offer New iEngage Fellows Program

The Shalom Hartman Institute and Masa Israel Offer New iEngage Fellows Program

January 8, 2013

The Shalom Hartman Institute and Masa Israel Journey are pleased to announce the Masa-iEngage Fellows program.
Program fellows, who are invited to be a part of the Hartman Institute community in Israel and North America, will join top iEngage faculty in exploring current challenges of Israel's Jewish culture.
 
The group will work toward initiating new methods for young North American leaders to engage with Israel. Fellows will continue to meet next year in North America for additional iEngage seminars and activities facilitated by the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America and Masa Israel Journey.
 
The program is facilitated by Dr. Shraga Bar-On. During the sessions, participants will have the opportunity to meet with members of the Hartman Institute and iEngage faculty, which includes scholars and experts in the field, such as Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman, Dr. Yehuda Kurtzer, Dr. Tal Becker, Dr. Micah Goodman, Yossi Klein Halevi, Dr. Marcie Lenk, Rabbi Dr. Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi, and Prof. Gil Troy.
 
Click here to register now. The program is opent to current Masa Israel post-college program participants.
 
Program schedule
 
Sunday, January 27, 16:00-21:00 From Auschwitz to Sinai, From Crisis to Values
Wednesday, February 6, 17:00-21:00 (optional) Hartman Annual Conference for Jewish-Democratic Israel: The Day After the Elections: Unity or Tribalism?
Friday-Saturday, March 1-2 Shabbaton in Jerusalem: Solidarity and Social Justice
Sunday, April 7, 16:00-21:00 Program for eve of Holocaust Memorial Day
Sunday, April 21, 16:00-21:00 Excursion: Jewish Renaissance in Tel Aviv
Thursday, May 9, 16:00-21:00 Engaging Israel Back Home
Tuesday, May 15, 22:30-24:00 (optional)
Tikkun Leil Shavuot (Topic to be announced)
 
A light meal will be served at all meetings.
 
For more information, contact Shraga Bar-On by email or by telephone at +972-2-50-882-8312.

 

The Power of Education

<div class="masa-blog-title">The Power of Education </div>

By Dan Kassner, Israel Teaching Fellows
 
Education is something that is experienced and shared universally.
 
Yet, education means very different things to different people.
 

In Israel, U.S. teaching interns abide by a different set of rules

In Israel, U.S. teaching interns abide by a different set of rules

In Israel, U.S. teaching interns abide by a different set of rules

November 30, 2012

The interns teach a minimum of 20 hours a week while working on other volunteer projects in their respective communities. In most cases, they team-teach in pairs, and in some cases, even in groups of three.
By Judy Maltz
 
Using big bold strokes, Tamara Freilich, a 22-year-old teaching intern from Washington, D.C., writes the letter "I" on the blackboard.
 
"Who can name a word that begins with this letter?" she asks her fourth-graders at the Ussishkin elementary school in Netanya.
 
"Ikea!" a girl in the front row yells out. "Good job," responds Freilich, as the girl jumps out of her chair and high-fives her classmates. Ignoring what might be considered unacceptable behavior in an American school, Freilich moves on. "Anyone else?" she asks.
 
"Igloo," volunteers another student. "That's right," says Freilich, "but we don't pronounce it 'eegloo' - we say 'igloo' with a soft 'i.'"
 
A few minutes remain until the bell rings, announcing the end of class, but some of the children are clearly losing focus. One boy gets out of his seat and starts walking around the room. Another flicks his classmate on the back of the neck and pretends to be paying attention to the teacher when the classmate turns around. Those students still participating have by now largely forgotten the rule about raising their hand, but Freilich carries on unperturbed, pausing only once to say "shhhhh."
 
"Actually, I'd expected much worse," she remarks, summing up her first month on the job, after the bell rings and her charges are dismissed. A graduate of Emory University with a degree in political science, Freilich is one of 170 participants this year in the Israel Teaching Fellows program, run by Masa Israel Journey - a joint initiative of the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency. The program, which provides Jewish college graduates an opportunity to teach English in low-income communities, is overseen by the Education Ministry. Launched as a pilot a year ago with 68 participants teaching English in five cities, it was expanded this year to seven cities, with the number of participants more than doubling.
 
The majority of this year's participants have degrees in areas relevant to education, with 17 of them holding graduate degrees. Most are women, and they range in age from 21 to 29. They teach English in 85 schools scattered around Netanya, Petah Tikva, Rehovot, Rishon Letzion, Ramle, Lod, Ashdod and Be'er Sheva. Those teaching in the latter two southern cities were evacuated temporarily during the recent flare-up across the border with Gaza. The plan is to expand the program next year to Beit She'an.
 
The interns teach a minimum of 20 hours a week while working on other volunteer projects in their respective communities. In most cases, they team-teach in pairs, and in some cases, even in groups of three.
 
Freilich's co-teacher is 25-year-old Matt Miller, from northern California, who graduated with a degree in classics from UCLA. Clearly making an effort to be diplomatic, Miller notes, "The kids here in Israel seem to feel freer about moving around in the classroom."
 
Pictured: Freilich, left, and Miller at Ussishkin elementary school in Netanya. Photo by Nimrod Glickman

Masa Israel Alumni: Israel Update Webinar with Avi Mayer

Masa Israel Alumni: Israel Update Webinar with Avi Mayer

November 21, 2012 - 12:00

  Online  - 

Avi Mayer, Director of New Media at the Jewish Agency for Israel, will give a briefing on the current situation to Masa Israel alumni.
To join the online meeting=
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2. If requested, enter your name and email address. 
3. If a password is required, enter the meeting password: Shalom18 
4. Click "Join". 
 
To view in other time zones or languages, please click here
 
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To join the audio conference only 
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Call-in toll number (US/Canada): 1-650-479-3208 
 
Access code:809 412 322 
 
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For assistance 
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2. On the left navigation bar, click "Support". 
 

Masa Israel Journey Volunteers from Around the World Join Israel's Public Diplomacy Efforts

Masa Israel Journey Volunteers from Around the World Join Israel's Public Diplomacy Efforts

Masa Israel Journey Volunteers from Around the World Join Israel's Public Diplomacy Efforts

November 19, 2012

By Margot Saffer
 
On Monday, November 19th, The Jewish Agency for Israel and Masa Israel Journey opened an International New Media Center in Jerusalem which isstaffed by volunteers from around the world who are participating in Masa programs. 
The center will allow the volunteers to share their personal experiences of living in Israel under rocket fire with people aroundP the world through social media, in multiple languages.
 
The volunteers were briefed by the Jewish Agency’s Head of Social Media, Avi Mayer, on Israeli public diplomacy efforts and on the use of social media to get one’s message across. Members of the local and international media also reported on the opening of the Center and interviewed the volunteers, with several additional news outlets - IBA news in English, Channel 1 in Arabic, Kol Israel Radio, and Ha'aretz among them – due to visit Tuesday. 
 
Benjamin Dannenberg, a volunteer on the Israel Teaching Fellows program from Connecticut in the U.S. said: “It feels great to contribute in some way, if not to the IDF, then to the state of Israel. We came to volunteer in some capacity. Since we can’t teach now, this is a great way to broaden our message to the world.” 
 
The volunteers come from English, Spanish, Russian and French- speaking countries and are workingin various capacities through Masa, volunteering as English teachers in Israeli schools (ITF – Israel Teaching Fellows) and interning in various government offices (Israel Government Fellows (IGF), and Real Life Israel). Manymembers of the group are living in Be'erSheva and Ashdod where, over recent weeks, they have experienced how difficult life is for residents of southern Israel living under rocket fire.
 
Josh Neuman is a 22-year-old graduate of Penn State University where he studied Political Science and History. It was his experience volunteering at an arts and sciences day camp for elementary school children that made him choose the ITFtrack of the Masa Israel Journey program. 
 
He tells of how, last Sunday, he was teaching an elementary school in Be’erSheva when a siren was sounded. He had to evacuate his students from the second floor to the basement, even having to carry a young girl who was too shocked to run. “I consider myself to be mentally tough, but seeing these children crying and praying and hugging each other for comfort, I almost lost it. But I had to keep it together for the children’s sake.” 
 
Josh said he became extremely angered by the ignorance of the international media, which he had not until that point understood as clearly. He feels that no children anywhere should undergo the kind of trauma endured as a matter of course by the kids in southern Israel. He began his own campaign to update his community back in the Bay Area. “I joined this initiative of the Masa program because I want to help create a network that ensures the flow of truth – of both sides of the story – and maybe balance out the tides of the media war – which is the war itself! Half the battle is won with the support.”
 
Deborah, a Brazilian from Masa's Real Life Israel program, agrees. She has secured a live interview on Tuesday with the largest radio station in Brazil, in which she intends to share "the real story."
 
Meghan, 21, from Paris, also wants to convey to her friends and family back home the Israel that she has discovered since her internship with IGF started three months ago. She graduated from The Sorbonne with a degree in History and Political Science, and is now volunteering at Israel's Ministry of Environmental Protection. 
 
On her social media streams, she finds it difficult to bridge the gap between being accused of being blindly pro-Israel, and conveying what she has personally experienced to be true. “I need to stay. I need to show them [back home] what is happening. I am not going to change my plans because of this. They [the terrorists] will not win.”
 
Meghan was walking with a friend in Jaffa last Shabbat when they heard the Code Red siren. She saw the missile explode after it was intercepted by the Iron Dome. Her terrified mother told Meghan that she had booked a ticket for her to come back to France. 
 
But she told her mom that she feels safe. “We trust the country,” added Meghan. 
 
The International New Media Centre is being opened in coordination with the National Information Directorate, the Foreign Ministry, and the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit. The volunteers will use social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and web comments, among others.Masa Israel Journey is a joint project of The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Government of Israel.  Participants spend 5-10 months in Israel and can choose from a wide range of programs involving volunteer work, studying or professional internships.  Over 10,000 young Jews from 60 countries participate in Masa programs each year. Graduates become" ambassadors" for Israel upon their return to their home countries.