Posted October 7th, 2010
Posted September 21st, 2010
Interested in a unique opportunity to explore Israel through an extreme jeep challenge in the desert? We are looking for four women to make up the Masa Israel team. Desert Queen takes place in some of the most exotic and challenging landscapes in the world.
Posted September 20th, 2010
Growing up, you might have celebrated Sukkot by going to your family, friends’, or synagogue’s sukkah, shaking the lulav and etrog, and eating outside under the stars. But if you are spending this Sukkot in Israel, there’s no reason to stay confined to your backyard—use the whole country as your sukkah!
Posted September 7th, 2010
Every time we ask alumni of Masa Israel program what the best part of their semester or year was in Israel, the same things are repeated over and over: freedom to explore Israel on their own, Yom Ha’atzmaut (Independence Day) and the other national holidays in the spring, and the chagim—the High Holidays.
It’s no wonder. To experience the chagim in Israel, the only Jewish state in the world, is like no other holiday experience. Whether you plan on participating in the religious aspects of the holidays, taking it all in as an observer, or stepping outside your comfort zone and experimenting with a new way of observance, there is nothing like being in Israel for the high holiday season.
Here are seven ways Masa Israel participants celebrate the chagim in Israel:
- Shul-hopping Celebrating the holidays at home usually means a synagogue membership, tickets, and sometimes even assigned seats. Not so in Israel—try out erev Rosh Hashana in one shul, and head across town for Kol Nidre. Each synagogue has a unique atmosphere, and with so many close together in Israel you don’t need to settle for just one.
Get placed with a host family Programs can usually set you up with a hosts family for one of the holidays. That way, you can celebrate the holidays in Israel with them, and they can help you navigate new traditions and show you a uniquely Israeli high holiday experience
Participate in Kaparot Performed right before Yom Kippur, the ritual of Kaparot involves taking a chicken and swinging it over your head while saying several blessings, thereby imparting all of your sins upon it. Head to your closest shuk to take part in this tradition.
Go on a Selichot tour Selichot are prayers of repentance that occur before the onset of the Jewish New Year. These prayers are said at night usually between 11pm and dawn, and Jews of different backgrounds have different practices. Some programs offer tours around neighborhoods of Jerusalem the night before Yom Kippur to see different traditions in action.
Walk on an empty highway on Yom Kippur In Israel, nobody drives on Yom Kippur—not even secular Israelis. Walking around your city or town on Yom Kippur is an experience like none other, an probably the only time you will ever be able to sit in the middle of a major highway (see picture below). You can also take advantage of the lack of traffic by joining in with the local teenagers who will be out on their bikes.
Head to the Kotel for Birkat Kohanim Being in Israel for the chagim gives you the opportunity to go to what is considered the holiest site for the Jewish people on the holiest days of the year. During Sukkot, kohanim (descendants of the priests of Israel) come together to bless the Jewish people. Many Masa Israel participants have described it as an extremely moving experience.
Festivals With all the time off, you have ample opportunity to check out some of the music and cultural festivals that take place around Sukkot. They are a great way to explore the country and get a taste of Israel culture.
The holidays are one of the bests times to be in Israel, and this list barely scratches the surface of what it is like to spend the season in Israel. But don’t take our word for it—try it for yourself!
[image credit: RonAlmog]
Posted July 26th, 2010
By Adam Dembling, Tikkun Olam Tel Aviv Jaffa
I recently returned from five months of volunteer and study in Israel on a program called Tikun Olam in Tel Aviv-Jaffa. As a volunteer on Tikun Olam, I found myself immersed in places and experiences that allowed me to work actively for change.
What’s happening at Because We Care at Hakfar Hayarok">What’s happening at Because We Care at Hakfar Hayarok
Posted June 16th, 2010
Masa Israel programs in Israel usually culminate with goodbye parties, reflective sessions and a strong feeling of pride for one’s experience. One Masa Israel program, however, has decided to make one last impression on Israel before they finish their program. Hakfar Hayarok is home to the Because We Care program. Participants in the program volunteer in the kfar teaching English enrichment courses, tutoring students in English and working on the farm.
Posted May 21st, 2010
A collection of updates covering the intersection of Israel programs, the Jewish world, and international education.
- We were recently featured in a series on ABC News about going abroad as an alternative to facing the challenging job market in the US.
Masa Israel Hosts “Your Next Step” Conference for Participants">Masa Israel Hosts “Your Next Step” Conference for Participants
Posted May 5th, 2010
Over 3,000 participants attended the Masa Israel Journey mega-conference in Jerusalem on May 2, 2010, a day-long event featuring seminars on “next steps” for participants, many of whom are preparing to leave Israel and return to their Jewish communities across the globe.
Posted March 28th, 2010
As you read the Haggadah on your Kindle, think about the 10 plagues you should avoid this Passover:
Water turning to blood, or when the balance in your bank account drops from seriously depressing to EMPTY
Frogs, or the desperately awkward singles you seem to meet at every party you go to
Joseph Kluger and Brett Lusky, Otzma students Visit Weitzman School in Akko">Joseph Kluger and Brett Lusky, Otzma students Visit Weitzman School in Akko
Posted March 15th, 2010
By Joseph Kluger, OTZMA
Why would you ever want to live in Israel? This is the first question one of my best friends asked me when I told her I was moving to Israel for 10 months on a program called OTZMA. The thought of living in Israel was never on my mind 2 or 3 years ago.