March of the Million

<div class="masa-blog-title">March of the Million</div>

By Alex Willick, Otzma
The primary reason for my being in Israel is to learn what it’s like to be an Israeli — all the wonders, difficulties, elation, struggles, and passions included.

Ice coffee and Hebrew...

<div class="masa-blog-title">Ice coffee and Hebrew...</div>

By Alex Willick, Otzma
Gourmet ice coffee and my Hebrew notebook are good friends of mine in Israel:
A bona fide child of the Tri-State Area, Alex Willick was born in Bergen County, NJ, raised in Westport, Connecticut, and subsequently lived in New York City.

Planting seeds of change

Planting seeds of change

August 6, 2012

Even after years of volunteer work, completing a service program in Israel was a life-changing, eye-opening experience for Seattle native Shoshana Wineburg.
By Rachel Olstein Kaplan
Shoshana Wineburg always resisted her mother’s requests to help with the gardening. Yet now, at 25, the Phinney Ridge native and inveterate traveler and volunteer is eager to plant seeds — both literally and figuratively — that will blossom into brighter futures for the communities she works with.
Shoshana spent last year in Israel volunteering with the Yahel Israel Service Learning program, where she helped build community, teach English and plant urban gardens among the concrete housing units in the Shapira neighborhood of Gedera. Yahel sends young people to volunteer and live alongside with the Ethiopian-Israeli community in Israel on long-term, summer and alternative break programs.
“I grew up in a household with a lot of emphasis on education, on service and helping people,” Shoshana said. “The main thing in our house was to be a good person.” Her father is a professor of educational psychology at Stanford and her mother is a social worker. Shoshana sees herself as a product of her upbringing.
But it wasn’t until she spent nine months volunteering with Yahel, living and working within a largely Ethiopian community, that Shoshana really began to think about how to do service effectively. “Yahel was particularly eye-opening for me. I had been involved with volunteer work my entire life, and I considered myself critical and analytical. But I had never asked if my actions were perpetuating dependency.” 
Shoshana feels that Yahel is different from other volunteer programs because they worked hand in hand with grassroots organizations. “The number-one most important thing is collaboration. We were working in collaboration with Friends By Nature, an organization that was already part of the community. We weren’t coming in and telling them what to do. It was bottom-up, not top-down. Even though we were outsiders, we were paired with people who were insiders.” Inspired by this community-based approach to development, Shoshana is considering applying for a master’s in Community and International Development at McGill University in the future.
With Yahel, Shoshana volunteered in the local community center, teaching English to adults and teens and tutoring for the Shiurei Bayit b’Bayit (Homework at Home) program. Working in partnership with Friends by Nature, Shoshana and the other participants on Yahel helped build community gardens between the concrete housing projects that make up the neighborhood. “We set up gardens where they would grow veggies and Ethiopian herbs and teff — a grain used to make the flour for injera, the traditional Ethiopian bread.”

UCLA Global Opportunities Night

UCLA Global Opportunities Night

November 14, 2012 - 18:30  -  November 14, 2012 - 20:30

UCLA Career CenterLos Angeles, CA  - 

Does living and working abroad interest you? Connect with international hiring organizations and graduate programs looking to recruit UCLA students, invluding Masa Israel Southwest Regional Director Maor Shaffin.
All majors and all class levels are invited to attend. Bring your resume and BruinCard for free admission!
Fair admittance open only to current UCLA students. For more information visit 

Conquering the chaotic Israeli classroom

<div class="masa-blog-title">Conquering the chaotic Israeli classroom</div>

By Jennifer 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!

Jerusalem Post: Helping African women in Tel Aviv

Jerusalem Post: Helping African women in Tel Aviv

July 23, 2012

By Mariel Eve Ackerman, Career Israel
We, as individuals, and as a society (and the government of Israel) have an opportunity to be up standers, to be righteous among the nations.
For most Americans, the issues of government oppression, genocide, civil wars, mosquitos and hunger in Africa are experienced only through television commercials portraying young children as an emotional tactic to elicit monetary aid. Not so long ago, this was the extent of my knowledge and perception of societal problems in Africa.
After finishing graduate school with a M.Sc. in Health Systems Management from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois, and working in project and medical group management for two years – I decided I wanted to live in Israel and somehow make my degree valuable in this land that Jews from all over the world feel such a strong connection to.
Through a Masa program called Career Israel, I was placed with an NGO called Hagar and Miriam, a branch-off organization of Brit Olam and Topaz.
Hagar and Miriam’s mission is to help refugee and asylumseeker women in Israel access pre-natal medical care (although their specific statuses were not distinguished by my organization).
My role was to be a coordinator of abortions, and I spent my days meeting with dozens of African refugees, asylum-seeking women and migrant workers, almost solely from Eritrea. I was to navigate the healthcare system for them.
There are five stipulations, one of which must be true, for a woman (Israeli or not) to be allowed to have an abortion in Israel. They are: 1. The women is under the age of 18 or over the age of 40. 2. The woman is not married. 3. The woman was raped. 4. There is health risk to the mother, and 5. There is health risk to the infant.

The best hummus in all the land

<div class="masa-blog-title">The best hummus in all the land</div>

By Alex Willick, Otzma
Ask any Israeli for their vote on best hummus place in Israel, and in general, they’ll all give you a different answer. There are, however, a few places that are known State-wide as having exemplary recipes and preparations.

UC Santa Cruz Fall & Job Internship Fair

UC Santa Cruz Fall & Job Internship Fair

October 30, 2012 - 10:30  -  October 30, 2012 - 15:00

College 9/10 multipurpose roomSanta Cruz, CA  - 

Network with a variety of companies hiring for full-time positions and internships. 
Dress professionally and bring multiple copies of your resume. Student ID or Career Center Access Card is required for entrance.
Meet Danna Rubin, Masa Israel Northwest Regional Director, to learn about internships and other post college opportunities in Israel.

Jewish Federation of Greater Washington Reaffirms Its Commitment to Connecting Young Adults To Israel

Jewish Federation of Greater Washington Reaffirms Its Commitment to Connecting Young Adults To Israel

June 26, 2012

Generous donation will fund recruiting position dedicated to increasing participation in the Masa Israel Journey program.
WASHINGTON – The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, long-time supporters and creators of young adult engagement and programming, is proud to announce the addition of a full time professional to serve as an ambassador for The Jewish Agency for Israel's Masa Israel program. This program connects Jewish young adults to gap year, study abroad, post-college, and volunteer programs in Israel. 
Matching funds from the government of Israel will be paired with a generous contribution from a local donor to support the program for two years. The new professional will have two primary focus areas including 1) double the local participation of young adults in the Masa Israel program from 130 to 270 participants by implementing a wide range of recruitment activities and 2) connect with Masa Israel participants upon their return to Greater Washington to help successfully integrate them into Jewish life. The creation of the new position will be crucial in reaching important goals that will more meaningfully connect young adults to Israel and Jewish life.
Federation President Stuart S. Kurlander stated “Greater Washington continues to lead the way in its unwavering commitment to young adults. We recognize that exposing this constituency to Israel in meaningful ways will create a solid foundation for a next generation of Jews who will exhibit strong support and commitment to our homeland.”
Since its inception in 2004, Masa Israel has brought more than 65,000 young adults to Israel. The program has grown by 1,000 or more new participants each year. One of Masa Israel’s major growth areas is the post-college age cohort (21–30) with more than 50% being alumni of Taglit-Birthright Israel. Masa Israel participants have many opportunities to engage with one another through special seminars, holidays and Shabbat observances. These activities build connections with Israeli peers and other Jewish young adults.
"Masa Israel is thrilled to enter into a new partnership with The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington to achieve our mutual goal of increasing the number of Taglit: Birthright Israel returnees and other young adults who participate in immersive Israel programs.  Our new staff person will also play a vital role in ensuring that alumni of Masa Israel programs in Greater Washington become activated and engaged as emerging Jewish communal leaders" shared Avi Rubel, Masa Israel North American Director.
Steven A. Rakitt, CEO of The Federation shared, “We are grateful to the generous donor whose commitment will make it possible for more Washingtonian young adults to take part in this important immersive Jewish experience." This gift exemplifies Federation’s interest and willingness to approach philanthropy from a new perspective. We believe that more and more donors will see us as their partners prepared to respond to their interests and turn their philanthropic dreams into reality." 
Elena Kazakevich