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See Galilee

Home and Goodbyes…

<div class="masa-blog-title">Home and Goodbyes…</div>

By Samantha Sisisky, Yahel Social Change Program
 
I’m entering my last week in Gedera, and I’m not sure how to feel about it.  This weekend, we had our final group Shabbat weekend.  We ate a beautiful, delicious, watermelon-themed Shabbat dinner together, spent time at the beach and even received “awards” (does anyone else think I have a flair for the overdramatic?).
 

Annie Lascoe

Annie Lascoe

West Coast Regional Director

Building Bridges in Israel with a Lacrosse Stick

Building Bridges in Israel with a Lacrosse Stick

Building Bridges in Israel with a Lacrosse Stick

June 19, 2013

For centuries, members of Native American tribes played lacrosse as a means of forging common bonds. So it makes sense that a group of young American Jewish volunteers in Israel used the sport to reach out to Arab-Israeli teenagers, who last week played their first full game.
By Joshua Berkman
 
For centuries, members of Native American tribes played lacrosse with one another as a means of forging common bonds. So it makes sense that a group of young American Jewish volunteers in Israel used the sport this past year to reach out to 24 Arab-Israeli teenagers, who last week played their first full game.
 
The lacrosse match, held in the port city of Jaffa, was the culmination of the Lacrosse Arab-Jewish Cooperation Project.  The Project was created by Ian Cohen, a recent graduate of Monmouth University who is volunteering in Israel with Tikkun Olam, a Jewish service learning program  supported by The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Israeli government’s Masa Israel Journey partnership.
 
Masa enables more than 10,000 young Jews each year to spend up to 10 months volunteering, interning and taking academic courses in Israel as they learn about Jewish history, build friendships with Jews from around the world and experience Israeli culture on a daily basis. The idea for the lacrosse project came to Cohen after he joined Tel Aviv’s lacrosse team last September and sought to combine his passion for the sport with his volunteer focus on Jewish-Arab coexistence.
 
“The program is intended to dispel bigotry through real contact between Arabs and Jews,” Cohen said.
 
Through the Peres Center for Peace, Cohen connected with the Ajyal School in Jaffa, which expressed interest in working with him. He then recruited fellow Masa volunteers and members of Israel’s national lacrosse association (Israel Lacrosse) to help teach the sport to the Arab high-schoolers during weekly clinics.
 
“The Jewish volunteers developed a fantastic relationship with the kids,” Cohen shared. “Primarily, we are teachers and role models. The sport is secondary.”
 
The Arab teens are not the only ones who have benefited from Cohen’s passion for lacrosse. Last fall, as the rocket attacks from Gaza intensified, Cohen helped organized a lacrosse clinic in Netanya to provide kids from southern border towns a few days of fun and respite from the daily barrage of rocket fire.
 
“We set up in an open field near where some local kids were playing on a playground,” Cohen recalled. “Within minutes, some students came over and snatched up the sticks, trying to figure out how to use this foreign device. I showed some of them some basics but they were really just interested in throwing the ball and shooting on the net.
 
“While this was happening, students in the classroom got wind of what was going on outside, and began pressing their faces up to the windows and even hanging out the windows trying to get the kids with the sticks to throw the balls into the classroom.”
 
Lacrosse is the fastest growing sport in North America.  As long as young volunteers like Cohen bring their enthusiasm for the sport with them to Israel, it might soon be the “next big thing” in Israel—for Jews and Arabs.
 

Masa Israel Alumni North American Board Retreat

Masa Israel Alumni North American Board Retreat

August 9, 2013 (All day)  -  August 11, 2013 (All day)

  TBD, United States  - 

All Masa Alumni Board members are invited to attend the first annual Masa Alumni Board Retreat.
The retreat will focus on leadership development, programming techniques, and other skills alumni will need to engage fellow alumni in their area and run outstanding events! Details on Retreat location will be announced shortly. For more information or to start a Masa Alumni Board in your community, contact Dena Stein at denast@masaisrael.org.

3,000 Masa Israel Participants Gather for End-of-Year Conference

3,000 Masa Israel Participants Gather for End-of-Year Conference

3,000 Masa Israel Participants Gather for End-of-Year Conference

May 23, 2013

3,000 young Jews from around the world, participants in long-terms programs through Masa Israel Journey, attended the Masa Israel Journey Conference and End of 2012-2013 Academic Year Event at the Jerusalem International Convention Centre this past Monday.
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL: The Masa program participants were addressed by the Israeli Minister of the Economy, Naftali Bennett, and Chairman of Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel, Natan Sharansky. They also participated in a panel discussion with the outstanding Israeli sportsmen and women Ariel "Arik" Ze'evi, Karen Leibowitz, and Andi Ram. 
 
Olympic medalist, judoka Arik Ze'evi said, “After a year in Israel, you will be the best ambassadors for our country.”
 
Naftali Bennett, Minister of the Economy said: “I salute those of you who are planning on making Aliyah. We need every one of you. For those of you that are planning to return home, I am certain that after a year here, the State of Israel will remain close to your hearts and that you will continue to visit us.”
 
Natan Sharansky held an open dialogue with the students during which he told them: “Masa participants discover their roots while visiting Israel and they discover that the Jewish people is one family. It is very important to us that you feel part of our family and that you represent us upon your return home.”
 
Masa Israel Journey is a joint project of Government of Israel and The Jewish Agency for Israel. Its aim is to strengthen the connection between young Jews around the world and the State 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. Upon their return to their home countries, many graduates become involved with their local Jewish communities and become ambassadors for Israel.
 

Live it Like a Local: Rebecca Lee’s Lonely Planet Guide to Gedera, Israel

<div class="masa-blog-title">Live it Like a Local: Rebecca Lee’s Lonely Planet Guide to Gedera, Israel</div>

 
 
I’m not going to lie and say that I felt comfortable and at home in Gedera as soon as I arrived. My first few days were filled with worries about the new place and I began to wonder how I was going to spend nine and a half months here. As I explored this new and different little town, I began to discover places that made Gedera feel like my home.
 

Masa Israel Commemorates Israel's Fallen on Yom Hazikaron

Masa Israel Commemorates Israel's Fallen on Yom Hazikaron

April 15, 2013

Last night, Masa held a moving Yom HaZikaron ceremony for over 4,000 of its participants at the historic site of Latrun. Together, we honored Israel's fallen.
Speaking to 5,000 Masa Israel Journey participants at a Remembrance Day for Fallen Soldiers ceremony, Chairman of The Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky said, "While in the Soviet prison, … I thought about the three Israeli sportsmen who had visited Russia and had bravely met with us. They told us that Israel was a place of great joy."
 
"I later heard that one of the three was killed in the Yom Kippur war. But, mostly I thought about Yoni Netanyahu. The fact that the State of Israel was prepared to send its soldiers to rescue Jews all over the world gave me great strength. Yoni was 29 when he was killed and was 29 when I was arrested. Every time that I felt that I didn’t have the strength to keep resisting the authorities, I thought about Yoni Netanyahu and it gave me the strength to keep going."
 
 
Minister of Econonmy Naftali Bennett also addressed the participants:
 
 

Solidarity of Nations - Achvat Amim

http://www.masaisrael.org/sites/default/files/achvat-amim.jpg

Program Description

Achvat Amim, which means "solidarity of nations" in Hebrew, is a new 5 month volunteer experience in Jerusalem that directly engages with the reality of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on the core value of self-determination for all peoples. Achvat Amim is renewing the conversation on Jewish Peoplehood and Zionism for the 21st century. Together, we build a dynamic learning community in which we explore and shape Jewish culture and identity as individuals and as part of a greater whole, engage with the challenging realities in Israel and the West Bank, and build on the rich history and traditions of which we are a living part.
 
Achvat Amim is a framework for meaningful volunteer work with leading Israeli human rights organizations, including Rabbis for Human Rights, which do grassroots work with Israelis and Palestinians in and around Jerusalem. Achvat Amim focuses on developing practical skills in community development and education through intensive volunteer projects and engaging with social change and human rights movements. The program combines learning programs, outdoor experiences, seminars, and trips around the country with working on real projects with leading human rights organizations.
 
Join us in building a future rooted in the Jewish values of Tzedek (Justice), Shalom (Peace), Tikkun Olam (Repairing the world) and Achvat Amim (Solidarity of Nations).

Highlights

- Volunteer doing grassroots work with leading Israeli human rights organizations
- Live in Jerusalem, a city of diversity, conflict, and beauty
- Build Jewish community and shape a collective culture
- Develop leadership and community organizing skills by taking responsibility for Tikkun Olam on the ground Learn Hebrew and Arabic
- Make lifelong connections with Israelis, Palestinians and people from all over the world
 

Lamidbar: Desert Learning Community

http://www.masaisrael.org/sites/default/files/lamidbar.jpg

Program Description

At LaMidbar is a five-month Masa Israel program designed for 21 – 30 year olds. You are invited to join a unique desert community and undertake a personal journey of deepening your understanding of yourself and your place in the world. Guided group meetings provide a forum for raising questions, listening, and dialogue.
 
The two program tracks, the Farm Internship and the Art Apprenticeship, provide an arena to learn a new skill and work with the land or with natural materials, as well as serving as a basis for observation, connection and growth arising from our daily interactions with people and the environment. The Farm Interns will join a Kibbutz work-team: organic agriculture, goat husbandry, goats’ cheese making, organic vegetable garden, organic date cultivation. The Art Apprentices will work closely with a master craftsman in metal-smithing, stained glass, ceramics, carpentry, or weaving. Both tracks will converge one day a week to work on a group green building project.
 

Highlights

- Immersion in a unique community 
- The inspiring desert atmosphere of the Negev
- Focus on reflection and personal learning from your experiences
- Ecological building in desert conditions
- Learn a practical, hands-on skill (organic agriculture, goat herding, cheese-making, natural materials)
-Apprenticeship with a master craftsman