From Baltimore to Rishon LeZion: A Masa Israel Teaching Fellow’s Journey">From Baltimore to Rishon LeZion: A Masa Israel Teaching Fellow’s Journey
“This teaching program offered me a chance to live abroad for an extended period of time, while giving back to those in need.”
Growing up in Baltimore, Blake Yospa, 26, felt connected to Judaism through the Reform synagogue where his mother worked and he attended Hebrew school. However, after his bar mitzvah, Blake grew less affiliated.
“Being part of a religious minority, I considered myself an outcast,” Blake explains.
However, that all changed in the winter of 2014, when Blake traveled to Israel for the first time with Birthright-Taglit Israel. “I honestly did not feel a connection to Israel or any Jewish community until I went on Birthright,” the Towson University alum remembers.
Blake extended his trip to stay with a friend from home who was living in Netanya as a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow. During his stay in Netanya, Blake spent a day in school with his friend, and decided that he too wanted to come back to Israel and teach for a year. Dissatisfied with his career path and looking to make a difference, Blake had nothing holding him back; Masa Israel Teaching Fellows made sense at that point in his life. “This teaching program offered me a chance to live abroad for an extended period of time, while giving back to those in need,” Blake explains.
Now, over a year later, Blake lives in Rishon LeZion as a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow. He teaches at a primary school in a mid-to-low socioeconomic neighborhood right outside of Rishon LeZion, where his students make him laugh and the faculty members are warm and welcoming. “I come to school with a smile on my face every day,” Blake says.
Outside of the classroom, Blake tutors some of his students, which allows for him to grow extremely close with both the children and their families. “I have developed such a close relationship with them that I’ve been invited over for the Pesach seder.” On top of the tutoring, Blake volunteers at a school running sports programs for the students. In his spare time, he explores Israel on organized tours with Masa Israel Teaching Fellows, and on spontaneous adventures with his friends.
Today, after several months as a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow, Blake feels that his experience on the Masa Israel program has changed him in many ways. “After living here for almost seven months, I’m happy to associate myself with Israel and being Jewish,” Blake says. He also feels that this experience has been self-enriching and has helped him grow spiritually and mature as a person.
Blake’s transformational Israel experience was made possible through Masa Israel Journey’s close partnership with The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore and its Israel Engagement Center. “The core mission of The Associated’s Israel Engagement Center is to facilitate the creation of strong connections to Israel and Israelis with young adults in the Baltimore Jewish community,” explains Jill Max, Chair of The Associated’s Israel Engagement Center. “Through programs like Masa Israel Teaching Fellows, we enable participants to create and strengthen those important, meaningful connections.”
When Masa Israel Teaching Fellows ends in June, Blake plans to return to the States to pursue a career in the field in which he earned his degree, sports management. “I would love to get a job with my local JCC in the recreational sports department and then perhaps move to minor or professional sports,” Blake says. Still, Blake remains open to any interesting opportunity that comes his way, which is something he would have never said that two years ago.
Inspired by Blake’s story? Apply to become a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow Today!
MITF - Bina Merchavimhttp://www.masaisrael.org/sites/default/files/MITF%20Bina%20M%20Photo.jpg
Masa Israel Teaching Fellows Bina is a program designed to close the achievement gap within Israel’s education system, as well as provide equal learning opportunities for both Jewish and Arab youth alike.
On Masa Israel Teaching Fellows Bina you will spend 25-30 hours a week working as an English teaching assistant in a local elementary or middle school, whose educational systems traditionally lag behind those in better-off areas of Israel. Additionally, you will volunteer 5 hours a week outside the classroom, in an organization of your choosing within the community. Masa Israel Teaching Fellows Bina gives you the opportunity to work with many diverse populations of Israel.
Through Masa Israel Teaching Fellows Bina you will get to participate in a 60 hour teacher-training course taught by Israel’s Ministry of Education, Ulpan (Hebrew learning) classes to help you learn the language and really immerse yourself into Israeli society, as well as weekly enrichment classes focused on co-existence and social justice.
Israel Teaching Fellows is highly subsidized by Israel’s Ministry of Education and Masa Israel allowing the cost of the program to only be $1,000 including living accommodations, flight-reimbursement, and a monthly stipend.
- Main Subject: Volunteer Programs
- 9.5, 10 Months
- Bina Merhavim
- Program appears on grant application as:
- MITF - Bina Merchavim
- Program Contact Information:
- Shana Feld
- Program Dates:
- September 04,2017 - June 28,2018, RAHAT, $15200 Apply to this program
- September 04,2017 - June 28,2018, NAZARETH, $15200 Apply to this program
- September 04,2017 - June 28,2018, JERUSALEM, $15200 Apply to this program
- September 04,2017 - June 28,2018, MIGDAL HAEMEQ, $15200 Apply to this program
Whether you’re looking for professional development or a resume boost, take it from these four Masa Israel Teaching Fellows alumnae – teaching English in Israel can help you land your dream job in education!
After graduating from Guilford College with a bachelor’s degree in education in 2011, Tova Dinkin decided to become a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow. In August, the Manhattan native moved to Rishon LeZion as part of the inaugural cohort of Masa Israel Teaching Fellows.
When she returned to New York in 2012, Tova was quickly offered a position as a kindergarten teacher at a Manhattan charter school. Three years later, Tova still teaches at that same school and attributes her success to her time in Israel. “Masa Israel Teaching Fellows is the reason I have my job,” Tova said. Those ten months teaching English in Israel allowed Tova to gain invaluable experience in her field as she learned more about herself as a teacher. “I came back with confidence that I did not previously have and experience that no one else could ever imagine.”
Jennifer Blitz also benefited from having Masa Israel Teaching Fellows on her resume, and her teaching experience in Petach Tikvah in 2013-2014 set her apart both on paper and in person. Throughout the interview process for her job as a science teacher in Brooklyn, the Long Island native shared her story about stepping out of her comfort zone, overcoming challenges, and adapting to new situations during her time in Israel. “Living and teaching in a foreign country was quite tough at times, not unlike most new jobs and experiences,” Jennifer said. “It’s an adjustment and Masa Israel Teaching Fellows truly did improve my ability to make those adjustments with a little more style and grace.”
Similarly, Emily Shelton who taught English in Netanya in 2011-2012, was hired in the U.S. and abroad as a result of her Masa Israel Teaching Fellows experience. Upon returning home to Delaware in 2012, Emily began teaching special education in a local public school. The principal even went so far as to tell her that her experience teaching abroad made Emily a very desirable asset in the classroom. Emily noted that her principal said that it was really different and unique to have Masa Israel Teaching fellows on her resume and made Emily stand out as a candidate.
Like Tova, Jennifer, and Emily Nitzah Santiago-McRae found that having Masa Israel Teaching Fellows on her resume helped her secure her position teaching at Headstart and her admission to Syracuse University, where she currently studies for her master’s in early childhood and special education. However, she felt that her time teaching in Ramle in 2013-2014 made the greatest impact when she returned to an American classroom.
A special education teacher with many foreign students, Nitzah found herself in a new country, where she did not speak the language. “I have a deeper understanding for my students who don’t know English because I didn’t know Hebrew,” the Maryland native said. The experience also helped her empathize with the students’ families, as they try to navigate a new culture and society.
Emily Shelton – English Teacher, Colegio Alberto Einstein in Quito, Ecuador Masa Israel Teaching Fellow in Netanya 2011-2012
Tova Dinkin – Kindergarten Teacher, Success Academy Charter Schools in New York, NY Masa Israel Teaching Fellows in Rishon LeZion 2011-2012
3 Recipes for a Happy, Kosher, and Vegan Passover">3 Recipes for a Happy, Kosher, and Vegan Passover
By Chef Chanah Auerbach, Masa Israel Volunteer Alumna
This Passover, stop wasting your energy making matzah-based, kosher-for-Passover versions of your favorite carb dishes. Instead, focus on plant-based, colortul fruit and vegetable dishes that are sure to fill you up and make all of your guests happy!
1. Begin your day with a delicious smoothie!
Way More Israelhttp://www.masaisrael.org/sites/default/files/Way%20More%20Israel.jpg
- Main Subject: Experiential Programs, Professional Studies
- Coexistence, Kibbutz
- 5 Months
- Heritage House
- Program appears on grant application as:
- Way More Israel
- Program Contact Information:
- Jackie Heritage
- (p):972 52-838-6137
- Program Dates:
- January 30,2018 - June 28,2018, JERUSALEM, $7300 Apply to this program
By Chloe Newman, Masa Israel Teaching Fellow in Ashdod
My first [few] months here seemed a flurry of realizing how many small, everyday items I had taken for granted in Pittsburgh. Many small kitchen-wares (a proper spice collection being one very important one), some nicer clothing items, art supplies, some school supplies, and general household items were purchased before my first stipend arrived, halfway through the month. My bike was the most significant, and perhaps my best, purchase, and when I started exploring the country, I noticed I was again dishing out cash for travel expenses.
Although my spending was not so extravagant in retrospect, I was discouraged at the time, having to dip into my savings so much. I vowed that once the madness had normalized, I would have a plan, to live comfortably and reasonably on my stipend. Now that I feel I’m establishing my flow, the idea still seemed like a good one, so earlier this month, I finally started a reliable budgeting spreadsheet to effectively use my humble monthly stipend.
My plan: 40 NIS a day. ($10)
That’s on average, of course. Some days I don’t buy anything. And then you have a day, as I did this month, where I spent 100 NIS on contact solution for the rest of the program. You can’t buy everything for ten bucks or less…but, it’s certainly helped me a LOT in putting my purchases into perspective. Even just having some quick notes on what else I’ve bought in the previous weeks helps me make decisions about what purchases make sense.
This list may not be interesting to the folks outside this program, but here’s what I feel has helped the most (and if you want, just skip to the bottom for more self-reflection on consumerism):
– I rarely buy clothing or beauty care products. If I want to wear something new, I kindly ask one of the lovely ladies in my apartment if they would share, and in return, I offer my…spices…and uh, cooking, I think. It works, okay? They’re nice.
– I buy almost all of my fresh groceries once a week, when the shuk is open. I ride my bike there after school, with only my backpack and some limited handlebar space for carrying my purchases. I generally already know what I want to buy before I arrive, but I’m open to switching out something for a new fruit or veggie that’s come into season. This prevents me from impulse purchases, and from buying more than I can eat before it spoils. Usually, my total is around 20 NIS.
– I don’t buy lots of processed food or snacks. Mostly whole ingredients to make something delicious out of: produce, legumes, grains, nuts, oils, sauces and spices…and humus and fresh-baked pita. The grocery-store humus is probably the most processed thing I eat, here.
-I visit the grocery store once every week or two for any other pantry items, but I do my best to be creative with what I’ve already got on hand. I’ve found that restaurants in Ashdod are…okay…but I love to cook, so I do that during the week. I prefer to save my going-out money for a weekend treat meal in Tel-Aviv (where the vegan options roam wild and free).
– On the note of traveling, I bring some food and snacks with me. Usually, a friend is hosting me, so I can bring ingredients to cook my own meals (and/or cook for them), or buy cheap groceries once I’m there for the weekend.
– I don’t buy drinks at bars. I won’t be fooled anymore. It’s just ridiculous. You can buy three bottles of wine at the grocery store for the same price of one, teeny tiny beer, which I don’t even like. Wine forever.
I don’t consider this being too frugal. I don’t feel my fun or my experiences here inhibited by my budgeting. I feel it prioritizes what’s important to me (mostly travel, healthy, tasty food, and art) and lets me worry less about spending on things I really don’t want or need. Ever since I packed my three bags to come live here, I’ve been enjoying the liberation of living on less, and I’m looking forward to experimenting further with how my time here can impact my level of consumerism in the future.
Originally published on Chloe’s blog.
5 Elements of Israeli Culture and Mentality That I Will Bring Home">5 Elements of Israeli Culture and Mentality That I Will Bring Home
By Desiree Eslamboly, Masa Israel Teaching Fellow in Petach Tikvah
Say what you want about Israelis- they’re brash, they’re pushy, and they’re bluntly honest – sure. But there is a reason why, when visiting, it only takes a few short days to fall in love with their country. And I’m not convinced that it’s solely the land that captivates people. After living here for only 4 short months, I have landed on 5 different elements of Israeli culture and mentality that I will be bringing back with me when I return to the United States.
1. Israeli Hospitality
Time and time again I am floored by the hospitality and generosity of Israelis. If I got even just an agorot (the Israeli equivalent of a dime) for every time I received an invite from an Israeli to join them for a meal, an outing with their family, or a tour of their city, I think it’s safe to say my humble monthly stipend would be double what it is now. Israelis have an incredibly special way of instantaneously making you feel like family. I have spent the past 3 out of 5 days at my host teacher, Rosi’s, house, and whether I was there eating homemade shakshuka or taking a nap on her sofa, I’ve been fortunate enough to feel right at home while 7,500 + miles away.
Rosi always says something that I think perfectly encapsulates the Israeli mentality. “If there is room in your heart,” she begins, “there is room at the table.” Sure, Israelis may not have the most ostentatious lifestyles and they definitely don’t preach the “bigger is better” mentality that some Americans cherish, but their hearts know no boundaries. This mentality is something I fully intend on bringing back with me to the States.
2. Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say
This one is a bit harder to adapt to life in the U.S. Israelis have earned a reputation for being brutally honest- and rightfully so. I can always count on an Israeli to give me their honest opinion, whether I actually want to hear it or not. Israelis refuse to sugar coat their thoughts. At times, this can be difficult to digest, but it is something I’ve come to appreciate. As Americans, we have been socialized to skirt around issues in order to avoid offending others. There are many times when I find it hard to voice my opinion or stand up for myself, and being in Israel has made me realize how refreshingly genuine it is to hear pure, unadulterated honesty. While it may take some time for me to find a happy medium between Israeli honesty and the American need to be politically correct, I look forward to developing my own communicative style founded on being more outspoken.
3. If You Want Something, Just Ask
As I mentioned above, I have trouble voicing my ideas or opinions. Sometimes, even asking for the simplest of favors is a challenge. My fear of rejection is real and has proved difficult to overcome, but being in Israel has helped me work on this. Israelis have no shame when it comes to asking for favors or questioning the rules – so why should I? I know people say this all the time, but the honest truth is that the worst possible response is “no.”
My co-teaching fellow and I had a great idea for a monthly bulletin board that would bring English to the whole school, as opposed to just the kids we work with. Our school doesn’t necessarily have an abundance of free space or resources, so we were a little nervous to present our idea. We felt as though we might be a burden and add more stress to our principal’s life. After mustering up the courage to present the idea to our principal, she instantaneously responded with “It’s a great idea, of course you can have the space!” There was zero reason for us to even be concerned about asking.
It seems so obvious, but people will not know what you want unless you voice your needs. As the old adage goes, “ask, and you shall receive.”
4. Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously
One of my favorite motivational speakers, Kid President, once said, “Life is too short to worry about being too short.” We all have our strengths and our shortcomings, but why sweat our weaknesses? I have struggled a lot with learning Hebrew, and I think a huge part of it is that I’m too embarrassed to practice through speaking the language. Every time I begin to speak, all I can think about is how pitiful my attempted Israeli accent is. When it comes down to it, does it really matter?
My students have taught me that experiences are way more pleasant when you can put your ego aside and learn to laugh at yourself. During a recent rehearsal for the school play, one of my students accidentally referred to a character named “Sam” as “Sun.” Watching said student laugh the mistake off, and find it hilarious that he referred to the character as shemesh (the Hebrew word for sun), reminded me that it’s okay to mess up – it’s all part of the journey.
5. When in Doubt, Cos Café it Out
Whenever my co-teaching fellow and I face a new challenge, our host teacher is there to help us work through things. Before we tackle anything, though, Rosi always says, “But first, let’s drink something hot.”
Before coming to Israel, there were times when I felt so overwhelmed by stressful situations that I would just let the stress consume me. Cos café – the Hebrew phrase for cup of coffee – in this case represents something more than just a warm drink. By sitting down to drink “something hot” before I take on a new challenge, I’ve learned the importance of grounding yourself. Quite frankly, stuff happens and life goes on. Taking a minute to center yourself before letting the craziness of the world overwhelm you is always a good idea.
To read more about Desiree’s adventures in Petach Tikvah, check out her blog.
MITF - Maase Olam -Youth Villageshttp://www.masaisrael.org/sites/default/files/MITF%20Maase%20Olam%20Photo%202.jpg
Israel's youth village system is a culturally distinct approach to providing healthy learning environments for Israeli youth at risk and new immigrants between the ages of 12-18.
Israeli teens might choose to live and study in these agricultural communities for a variety of reasons: their family might be impoverished and unable to adequately care for them, they might have immigrated to Israel alone, they might have had a difficult time with social integration at their former schools, or they might simply be interested in the community values that the youth village embodies. Whatever the reason, the network of educators, mentors, and adoptive families in the village provides an environment for these teens to grow into thriving and compassionate adults.
Though there are countless benefits for the teens that grow up in this setting, one drawback is that they have less access to native English speakers than they would have if they lived in urban Israeli environments. This is the first time that an organized group of English-speaking Jews have been brought in to address this issue. We are looking for adventurous and socially conscious Jews from the Anglosphere who are not only interested in teaching English, but in leading informal education activities, and in serving as close mentors and role models for their students.
The youth village is a product of the Jewish commitment to tikkun olam, and embodies the cliché but truthful maxim that "it takes a village to raise a child". The 10 months of the program will be highly challenging, but also profound. Those who work in a youth village tend to reflect on it as a transformative life experience.
A wide range of skills are useful in a youth village setting, so those with one or more of the following interests or attributes are encouraged to apply:
• Interest in social work, counseling or mentoring teens
• Background in constructive recreational activities like music, sports, dance, art, theatre, cooking, photography, etc.
• Interest in gardening, agriculture and/or animals
• Hebrew ability, as some students in the village have limited English
• European language ability, particularly French and Russian, for new immigrant students
- Main Subject: Volunteer Programs
- 10.5 Months
- Mercaz Ma'ase
- Program appears on grant application as:
- MITF - Maase Olam -Youth Villages
- $ 15200
- Not Included
- Program Contact Information:
- Amanda Gold
- (p):972 4 902 770/2
- Program Dates:
- August 15,2016 - June 30,2017
By Matthew Callman, Masa Israel Teaching Fellow in Netanya
This past week, over 250 Masa Israel program participants from over 25 countries came together at Hotel Yehuda in Jerusalem for the The Wilf Family Masa Israel Leadership Summit. These five days were full of workshops, lectures, trips, and other interactive activities. The purpose of the summit was to educate the participants and give us the proper tools to become future Jewish leaders. On the last day, in order to tie the summit together, we received an article that lists the seven principles of a Jewish leader. In order to reflect on the summit, I am using those same seven principles to draw the connection between the summit and Jewish leadership.
Principle 1: Leadership begins with taking responsibility.
Prior to the conference, we had the responsibility to complete the application process for the summit, and upon acceptance, sign up for the workshops that we would be interested in attending. During the workshops, professionals from around the Israeli community came in to spread their knowledge on various topics. Workshops included the challenges facing European Jews, Jewish philanthropy, proper messaging and branding techniques, how to run a t-shirt campaign, a memorable talk by Tamir Goodman, and the opportunity to visit the Knesset. The workshops were the part of the summit where we would put in the effort in order to receive the message they were trying to send. As for myself, I took the responsible role and took copious notes so, in the future, I can go back and reflect on what I learned.
Principle 2: No one can lead alone.
At the beginning of the program, the participants were separated into 11 teams. These would be our homeroom groups, where after each day we would come together and reflect on what we learned. It all started out on Sunday, when we completed various team building exercises at the Biblical Zoo. The purpose of these exercises was to build that atmosphere of a team. Having a unified team, will make leading it easier. Throughout the week, due the extensive workshop choices, some people may have had difficulty deciding what workshops they wanted to attend. Our homeroom groups were then used as the place where everyone talked about the workshops they attended that day. At first, we were strangers when we walked in on day one, but by day five we had many conversations, connected and shared ideas to help each other grow as individuals and leaders.
Principle 3: Leadership is about the future. It is vision-driven.
The purpose of the summit was to help us become the future Jewish leaders of our communities. The week started out with some important questions. These questions were not going to be answered during the summit, but they were used to spark an interest in how we can best answer those questions.
Three major questions were asked by Shmuel Rozner of the Jewish People Policy Institute during his lecture:
-Why would one want to be Jewish?
-Why does Judaism need to be continued?
-What role can a Jewish leader play in the world?
These are powerful questions, and they laid the groundwork for the remainder of the summit. They got me thinking and, after reflecting on these questions during the week, as the conference concluded, I asked myself the question: “How can I become the best Jewish leader in my community?” With that question in mind, I can now figure out how I can grow as an individual each and every day in order to make the impact that I know I am capable of making.
Principle 4: Leaders learn.
Obviously, we were at a summit, so we were going to do a lot of learning, but learning should never end. During the conference, many opportunities were created to allow us to learn from each other. It never matters how one learns, as long as one is looking for new knowledge. While learning from your peers, you never know what you may find out. People have different views on and interpretations of topics, and they may make a point that you did not think of. It was great to see that, throughout the day, people were constantly asking each other about the workshops they attended and what they learned from them. The open environment at the summit, allowed for the exchange of ideas that will really help people grow as leaders.
Principle 5: Leadership means believing in the people you lead.
As future Jewish leaders, who are we really looking to lead? The answer may vary depending on who you ask, but there is one general category that we must believe in, and it is the Jewish people as a whole. The summit gave us the opportunity to envision that. Where else could you find young Jews from all around the world under one roof? Coming from a very Jewish area on Long Island, sometimes I forget that being Jewish in other areas of the world can be very difficult. Hearing some of those stories had a huge impact on me and really opened up my mind to Judaism around the world. Now, when we go back to our respective communities, we will be focusing on not only making our communities better, but also on the worldwide Jewish community.
Principle 6: Leadership involves a sense of timing and pace.
Can there only be one leader? Through my experiences studying leadership, there needs to be a group of leaders. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, and in order to be the best leader, you must surround yourself with people who not only support you, but also cover those weaknesses for you. Some people may not be ready to be the big time leader, but want to help support their peer. The summit allowed for so many great minds to not only network, but to build personal relationships, too. These connections that were formed, will give all of us the opportunity to grow at their own pace as a leader and find how they can be the best leader they can be.
Principle 7: Leadership is stressful and emotionally demanding
This week was not an easy week. We had a very packed out schedule, and a lot to learn in such a small period of time. For me, I got very little sleep because I wanted to take advantage of having so many motivated young Jews all together. Personally, I stepped outside my comfort zone and put myself out there for people to notice me. The summit may have been a roller coaster ride with many highs and lows, but the bottom line is, I am so blessed that I had the opportunity to attend the summit. I have taken so much from it, and I cannot wait to continue on my journey to be the best Jewish leader that I know I can be.
The following article was used to help me out with this post:
"Seven principles of Jewish Leadership" by Jonathan Sacks, The Jerusalem Post 6/14/2012
**Be sure to check out the article here and read another point of view on Jewish leadership**
Read more about Matthew’s experiences in Netanya on his blog.