Ten Thousand Masa Alumni Preparing for Their Next Steps in Israel, Abroad

Ten Thousand Masa Alumni Preparing for Their Next Steps in Israel, Abroad

June 15, 2012

By Sarah Bronson, Jewish Agency staff
 
Adrian Rubenstein, 23, of Leuven, Belgium and Brooklyn, New York, was having trouble finding a job in International Politics in the New York area. 
At his father's advice, he came to Israel and performed a Masa-sponsored internship through Career Israel, at the French Chamber of Commerce. "If you don't know what you are doing after college," he advised, "come to Israel on Career Israel. You aren't photocopying papers for bubkas. You're doing meaningful work, really learning about your career."
 
When Adrian Rubenstein, 23, graduated from college last year and couldn't find a job in his field in either of his two hometowns of New York City or Leuven, Belgium, his father suggested he go to Israel. A year later, Rubenstein is finishing what he called "a dynamic, very interesting" internship with the French Chamber of Commerce in Israel, a resume-builder he found through Career Israel and Masa Israel Journey. Reflecting on his experience, he said he gained not only a line on his CV, but a new way of seeing Israel and Judaism.
 
"Living here has shown me the diversity of Israel," he said. "I've met people with lots of interesting ideas about religion, from different religions and different types of Judaism. Belgium is very secular; living in Israel has shown me that religion is very personal and can be what you want it to be. I plan to be more involved in the Jewish communities in Brooklyn and Belgium when I get home."
 
Rubenstein was one of thousands of young adults ages 18-30 who streamed into Jerusalem's Binyanei Ha-umah International Convention Center tonight to commemorate the end of their long-term trips to Israel with Masa Israel Journey.
 
Masa, which is funded jointly by The Jewish Agency for Israel and by the Israeli government, provides grants and scholarships for Jews from around the world to participate in any of over 200 programs through which they can intern, study, or volunteer for a period of 5 to 12 months. The program aims to strengthen the relationship between Israel and young people who grew up abroad. In the past year, over 10,000 young people came to Israel through Masa.
 
Highlights of the end-of-year program, called "My Masa, My Journey," included an address by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu; a discussion with Natan Sharansky, Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency; a performance by the internationally-acclaimed Israeli dance troupe Mayumana; and a panel talk by some of Israel's most prominent athletes.
 
After viewing a short film clip about Sharansky's life, the audience sat in rapt attention as he related details about his years in a Siberian prison, including the method by which he and other prisoners turned their toilets into makeshift telephones, and communicated via Morse code through the walls.
 
"What is happening with young Jews coming to Israel," he said of Masa, "is that they discover here they have roots, they have a state. They have a family. They may be critical of Israel, but they say 'I'm speaking up, because Israel is me.'"
 
Prime Minister Netanyahu emphasized the importance of becoming a spokesperson for Israel once the Masa participants return to their countries of origin. "You're taking back with you something very, very precious," he said. "The truth. You can speak the truth about Israel, and that's what I want you to do. Defend Israel by saying the truth and by being proud. Proud of being Jewish, proud of your heritage, proud of your homeland."
 
Speaking up and speaking the truth is just what Nellie Alimi, 23, of Paris, plans to do when her Masa program is over. Through the organization Gvahim, Alimi has been performing a Masa-sponsored internship at a high-tech company. "I want to stay in Israel, but I got a job offer in England I plan to take," she said. "But I know that even outside the country, I can represent and defend Israel."
 
Nellie Alimi, 23, of Paris, performed an internship at the high-tech company Nice Systems, through the Gvahim program, sponsored by Masa. "I want to stay in Israel, but I got a job offer in England I plan to take," she said. "But I know that even outside the country, I can represent and defend Israel."
 
Alimi said that she had formerly spent a year in Israel as a university student, but that her experience as an intern gave her an opportunity to experience Israel surrounded by adults. "Students are full of hopes," she observed, "but grownups deal with reality. Many of my coworkers are more pessimistic than I am, and said that I'm naïve about peace and about the future of the country. I was forced to define and defend my ideas, and to show them that I may not know what it means to lose someone in the army, but I do know what anti-Semitism is, and we can bring peace – you don't have to be pessimistic."
 
Hadassah Mendoza, 25, of Miami, was inspired by her Taglit-Birthright trip to return with Masa, with the stipulation that "I couldn't justify staying in Israel for so long unless it was contributing in some way to my resume." Through Masa and Israel Government Fellows, the Political Science graduate has been performing an internship at Israel's Ministry of Trade and Labor.
 
Haddassah Mendoza, 25, of Miami was in Israel on the Israel Government Fellows program, sponsored by Masa. She was inspired by Birthright to return for a longer period, and performed an internship at the Ministry of Trade and Labor. "Instead of just planting a seed, now I have roots here and a relationship with Israel," she said.
 
The value of staying in Israel for several months or a year, she said, is "instead of just planting a seed [such as on a short trip], now I have roots here, and a relationship with Israel. Going to Masada and the Dead Sea one time is not the same as shopping at the shuk for your food and running after buses. And my Hebrew is better now; it's a good sign when you can negotiate with a taxi driver in Hebrew and feel good about it."
 
One of Masa's younger participants was Max Rudolph, 19, of Portland, Oregon; he spent nine months on the Young Judaea Year Course, which combines volunteer services with Hebrew-language studies.  "I was a High Holiday Jew, and that probably hasn't changed," he said of what he has learned. "But I understand more, and yes, now I want to marry Jewish. And I'll defend Israel on campus if there is slander against it. I definitely plan to come back to Israel to visit."
 
Max Rudolph, 19 of Portland, Oregon, was in Israel on the Young Judaea Year Course. "I was a High Holiday Jew, and that probably hasn't changed," he said of what he learned. "But I understand more, and yes, now I want to marry Jewish. And I'll defend Israel on campus if there is slander against it. I definitely plan to come back to Israel to visit."
 
Originally published by the Jewish Agency for Israel | Photo credit: Perry Bindelglass

Jewish Daily Forward: Hookah And Shakshuka

Jewish Daily Forward: Hookah And Shakshuka

June 13, 2012

By Laura Rumpf
 
If you closed your eyes, you could easily imagine the scent of rich tomato and onion wafting from Jennah Craig’s East Bay apartment...
...and the joyful colliding of conversations ricocheting down the hallway coming from an airy apartment complex in downtown bustling Tel Aviv. 
 
That was exactly the feeling this gathering was going for. A group of ten young adults who’ve all settled in the Bay after years living in Israel, we rolled up our sleeves to create a Middle Eastern-style feast of Shakshuka (see recipe below) and homemade pita, and toasted to some of our most memorable meals cooked in the Holy Land.
 
Danna Rubin, Northwest Regional Director for Masa Israel Journey, spearheaded the edible effort after hearing from a number of Masa Israel program alums that the thing they missed most from their time spent in Israel was spent making a mess on the stove, in good, raucous, company. “A big part of living in Israel is gathering together and cooking meals together; something less prevalent in American culture,” says Rubin.
 
As the Shakshuka (a deliciously simple dish of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, chili peppers, onions and as many additional ingredients as you can dream up), bubbled and simmered on the stove (after we’d finally agreed to stop futzing with the recipe), some in the group opened up about their favorite Israeli feasts.
 

Jewish Community Celebration - Israel in the Gardens

Jewish Community Celebration - Israel in the Gardens

June 10, 2012 - 11:00  -  June 10, 2012 (All day)

Yerba Buena GardensSan Francisco  -  United States

Get ready to join thousands of members of the greater bay Area Jewish community for our annual event.
Israel in the Gardens, the largest Jewish celebration in Northern California will be more exciting than ever, with lots of musical talents, roundtable community conversations, exciting kids' activities, the new O-Zone for teens, & the After Party (21+) at the Cellar.

Chicago Israel Experience Celebration & Farewell

Chicago Israel Experience Celebration & Farewell

June 12, 2012 - 19:00

Beth Hillel Bnei EmunahWilmette, IL  - 

The Jewish Agency for Israel, NefeshB’Nefesh&TheAliyah Council of Greater Chicago proudly invite you to the Annual Israel Experience Celebration & Farewell in honor of:
Chicagoland’s New Olim
Naale Elite Academy Students
Masa Israel Journey Participants
 
Tuesday, June 12 2012 at 7:00 pm
Beth Hillel Congregation BnaiEmunah
3220 Big Tree Lane, Wilmette, IL 60091
 
Heavy appetizers; dietary laws observed
 
Chairman of the Aliyah Council of Greater Chicago, Mr. Elliott Robinson
 
Co-sponsors: Masa Israel Journey, Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, Naale Elite Academy, American Zionist Movement, and Ebenezer Midwest
 
We will also be saying farewell to our Chicago shlichim who are returning to Israel 
 
Please RSVP for you and your guests by June 8th to Rachel at aliyahchicago@jafi.org or (847) 674-8861 
 

Israel Service Fellows to Work in Druze Youth Centers in Akko

Israel Service Fellows to Work in Druze Youth Centers in Akko

June 4, 2012

In addition to meaningful volunteer work with young Jewish people in Akko this fall, many of Ma'ase Olam's Israel Service Fellows will also be working in Druze and Arab youth centers near Akko this year. 
The Druze and Arab community has limited access to opportunities and resources that allow them to fully integrate into Israeli society. Despite the Druze community's long-standing and deep commitment to the State of Israel, expressed among other things in the fact that all Druze males serve in the IDF, economic distress is widespread, and social services supplied to the community are extremely limited and lacking. At the same time, aspects of  Druze and Arab society is struggling with the transition from traditionalism to modernity, with the challenges presented by such a transition being especially palpable among Druze and Arab youth. This transition is also being felt in the struggle for women’s rights in the Druze community. There is growing awareness that the deepening crisis has potential ramifications beyond the community itself.
 
Israel Service Fellows will be working in youth centers that provide programming for Arab and Druze youth that promote leadership development, volunteerism, and equality in Akko. The program a chance for people 13-25 years old from diverse populations (from at-risk youth to exceptional students) a variety of high quality and value-rich activities, focused on promoting volunteerism, leadership development, and educational enrichment.
 
The work at the youth center will run from the afternoon through the evening. Programming at the youth centers is extensive, including sessions and classes that might focus on drama, music, computer skills, education and more. Activities that Israel Service Fellows might operate include organizing a spelling bee or debate course, planning a community events, and English instruction.
 
In many cases the youth centers are the only public place where young people in those communities will get these services. Israel Service Fellows will have the opportunity to operate in a framework where the work they are doing will be groundbreaking. Without their presence, the residents of the communities they will be working in would not take place, depriving young people in those communities the opportunities presented to them by Israel Service Fellows.

ShalomLife: PM Netanyahu Tells Masa Participants Stand Up For Israel Wherever You Are

ShalomLife: PM Netanyahu Tells Masa Participants Stand Up For Israel Wherever You Are

May 23, 2012

Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu addressed thousands of Jewish young adults from around the world this week. 
All of whom are currently spending time in Israel as part of Masa Israel Journey, a partnership between the government of Israel and the Jewish Agency. Netanyahu called on the Masa participants to stand up for Israel wherever they are – by making aliyah (immigrating to Israel) or defending Israel in their home communities.
 
In Toronto, Masa is funded through UJA Federation of Greater Toronto.
 
"Israel is your home, your homeland, and your future," the Prime Minister said. "You are bringing back to your countries something valuable – the truth about Israel."
 
The prime minister praised Jewish Agency Chairman of the Executive Natan Sharansky, calling him “a hero of the Jewish people.”
 
He recalled for the Masa participants that when Sharansky stood in court back in the Soviet Union and was asked whether he had anything to say, he responded: "I have nothing to say to the court, but to my wife and the Jewish people I say, ‘next year in Jerusalem.’"
 

Lost in the Rhythm

<div class="masa-blog-title">Lost in the Rhythm</div>

 
I came to Israel – to the Pardes Institute for Jewish Studies – 10 months ago, so that I could study and become familiar with Jewish text. I wanted very much to live a ‘Jewish life.’ I just didn’t know what that entailed or meant.
 
Judaism, for me, has been like a dance. It wasn’t so much fun when I didn’t know the steps.
 

Masa Israel Programs Fair for Birthright Israel Participants

Masa Israel Programs Fair for Birthright Israel Participants

July 17, 2012 (All day)

  TBD, Israel  - 

Masa Israel invites current Birthright Israel participants to learn about opportunities to get back to Israel.
Learn more about the programs we offer.
Miriam Wasser
2011-2012

Los Angeles Israel Experience Celebration & Send Off

Los Angeles Israel Experience Celebration & Send Off

June 14, 2012 - 18:00  -  June 14, 2012 - 21:00

LA Jewish FederationLos Angeles, CA  - 

Going to Israel on a Masa Israel program? Let us organize a celebration in your honor!
- Make friends with other people from your and other programs
- Enjoy a kosher Israeli dinner
- Sing and dance with a special performance by the Tzofim Friendship Caravan
 
The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles
6505 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90048
 
RSVP by June 8th: nicolea@jafi.org / Tel:  323-658-7302
 
In partnership with: BBYO, B’nai Akiba, Habonim Dror, Israeli Scouts, JSU/NCSY, NFTY, Ramah, USY and Young Judaea