Ofer is the Director of Marketing & Sales of Masa Israel Journey. Ofer was born and raised in Tivon, a town in Northern Israel. During his army service, he served as a fighter on a battleship in the Israel Defense Forces. From 2004-2008, he was the Central Shaliach (emissary) of the World Zionist Organization in North America, working to bring Israel to the campuses across the continent and the campuses to Israel. When he finished his Shlichut Ofer joined Israel Way, an educational tourism company and was the Director of its long term & Masa programs department. Ofer was also a delegate to the 44th & 46th World Zionist Congress. He was a member of the extended executive board of the World Zionist Organization as well as a member of the Israeli board of the World Jewish Congress.
Ofer has an L.L.B. degree and he is an attorney. He has worked in the Israel Religious Action Center, a part of the Reform movement, dealing with civil rights in Israel and helping new Olim (immigrants) with legal issues. In the past, he was also the CEO of Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP) Community, a none profit organization who works with underprivileged communities in Israel, to change the social realty through many educational and social projects.
Sara Eisen joined the Masa Israel team as Chief Communications Officer in January 2015, after a four-year tenure as Head of Marketing Content at The Jewish Agency.
Before life in non-profit, she was an independent marcom and content consultant and copywriter, working with both established corporations and startups, which are still a passion of hers. She co-founded two startups, and has also worked as a journalist in the fields of hi-tech, lifestyle, and culture, and was a blogger (the-word-well.com) before everyone was a blogger.
A veteran olah ('93), Sara holds a degree in Psychology and English.
Tal is a biologist with a PhD in genetics from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. She has worked for Masa for three years, where she served for over two years as Chief of Staff. She took up her current position in 2016. She is also responsible for all data analysis within Masa.
She lives in Jerusalem with her husband and two children.
Naama came to Masa from the ESCO Social and Environmental Entrepreneurship Center, where she served as the manager of social business initiatives and investor relationships. Previously, Naama worked in the Hi Tech and Communications sectors. She and her family spent several years in California, where she initiated several educational projects; among them, the establishment of a Hebrew school for the children of Israeli expats. While in the US, Naama created fundraising events for Israel with the JNF. Upon her return to Israel, Naama worked as director of resource developnment both at a non-profit for at-risk families and at an art school for at-risk youth. Her tenure at ESCO followed, once she realized that her passions for both the business and non-profit sectors could be merged in the form of social entrepreneurship. She likes to run (half marathons), hike, read and cook vegan.
Originally from Migdal HaEmek in the North of Israel, Liran Avisar Ben-Horin joined Masa Israel Journey as CEO in 2013, where she manages the joint project of the Government of Israel and The Jewish Agency for Israel that provides young adults immersive, life-changing internships, service-learning opportunities, and study abroad programs in Israel.
Prior to her appointment as CEO, Liran served as Chief of Staff of the Director General of Israel’s Prime Minister’s reforms. From 2004 until 2010, Liran worked in the Office, leading a number of governmental and civic Movement, and then as Director of the North American Aliyah Department for The Jewish Agency for Israel. She began her career as a legal assistant to former Israeli Attorney General, Menachem Mazuz. Liran completed her service in the Israel Defense Forces as a Company Commander for the women’s field units officers’ course, reaching the rank of Lieutenant. She holds a BA in Business Administration from Tel Aviv University, an LL.B with Honors from the Faculty of Law at Tel Aviv University and an LL.M from New York University. Liran is an almuna of the prestgious Maoz Fellows program for social change-makers.
Liran resides in Tel Aviv with her husband, Itay, and her daughter, Eshkol. In her spare time, Liran studies Judaism at Kolot, a pluralistic Beit Midrash.
The experience you get when you live, learn and work in a foreign country gives your career and life endless opportunities. Here are five reasons to study and intern abroad next semester.
When you spend a semester both studying and interning you can apply the knowledge from class immediately to the work environment which, makes your newly attained skills come to life. You'll understand it's okay to make mistakes and fail and that this semester abroad is the perfect opportunity to do so.
Unlike in your home country, where you understand the social and cultural norms, when you’re abroad, the context is changed, and your skill set naturally expands. From this point, you better know how to listen to others, understand how to adapt yourself to any situation and communicate across multiple cultural barriers. It's at this moment that you automatically challenge yourself and your senses become sharper than ever.
When you intern and study abroad you can have a transformative experience in your choice of career fields and get a taste of different jobs and work environments. It’s entirely okay to say you don’t like one path and then seamlessly switch to another, before it’s too late. So, whether you want to go to med school or work for a tech startup, you’ll get a dose of the real thing here in Israel.
Whether you’re in class or at your internship, you have the chance to develop your international network. Your coworkers, classmates, and professors serve as a new platform for connecting you with professional opportunities, resources and personal development in the present and the future.
Oh, the real world. Soon enough the four glorious years of college will have to come to an end, and there’s no way to better prepare yourself than by spending a semester in a beautiful country where you’ll live, work and study on your own. It is here where you get to experience real independence. You’ll finish the semester wishing you didn’t have to leave and go back to your dorm. Graduation never looked better.
Written By Ruti Alfandry, Masa Israel's Director of Academic Programs
The Forward: Why the U.S. Presidential Election Matters for Israel’s Environment">The Forward: Why the U.S. Presidential Election Matters for Israel’s Environment
By Toby Mirman, Masa Israel Teaching Fellow
Israelis are interested in the U.S. presidential election. But who ends up in the White House does not only impact the most obvious foreign policy initiatives – military aid, the future of the Iran nuclear deal, a potential two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians. I see the future of U.S. environmental policy as the most critical issue to Israel’s interests, as it affects both Israel’s physical climate and economy.
As the climate changes, countries like Israel – small, densely populated states with limited natural resources, and near the coast – will likely face the brunt of negative consequences. In 2013, the Israeli Environmental Protection Administration reported that climate change would likely put more than five million Israelis at risk of not only flooding due to the rising Mediterranean and greater rainfall causing rivers to overflow, but also of increased transmission of infectious diseases from mosquitoes and other carriers.
The next very few years are crucial for the trajectory global warming takes and whether or not we will be able to keep warming to tolerable levels. Indeed, this trajectory depends directly on the environmental policies of the next president.
The United States contributes more than 15% of the world’s CO2 emissions, is second only to China in total emissions, and is far and away the world leader in emissions per capita, outpacing China almost three to one. Because the U.S. is such a huge contributor to climate change and because the U.S. is typically the least common denominator for international agreements, it is essentially impossible for mankind to keep climate change within controllable levels without genuine and enthusiastic U.S. government-led efforts to reduce carbon emissions and adopt more sustainable practices.
Should the U.S. fail to live up to its commitments and lead the way in reducing carbon emissions, we should expect that other developed economies – those countries that contribute the most to climate change – will follow suit, and continue emitting at unsustainably high rates.
President Obama has set U.S. environmental policy on a sustainable path. This fall, he signed the Paris Agreement, joining almost 200 countries in agreeing to limit climate change through reducing carbon emissions, and his administration has advanced the Clean Power Plan, which aims to transform America’s power grid to rely on cleaner and more sustainable methods of producing energy. The direction of U.S. environmental policy in coming years will direct humanity’s battle against climate change.
The impact of U.S. environmental policies on Israel during the next presidential administration will affect both Israel’s physical climate and, perhaps less obviously, its economy. Indeed, the two nominees have released vastly different statements on their intentions regarding environmental sustainability and climate change.
Donald Trump has promised to rescind many of President Obama’s steps toward a sustainable future, including the Clean Power Plan, Climate Action Plan, and Waters of the U.S. Rule, as well as “cancel” the U.S.’ commitments to the Paris agreements within his first 100 days in office. Moreover, Trump has declared his intentions to eliminate entirely the Environmental Protection Agency. These actions would have catastrophic effects on our ability to combat climate change, not to mention put millions of Americans in immediate and grave danger of being poisoned by pollution currently controlled by government regulation.
Hillary Clinton’s environmental policies leave something to be desired; she has refrained from proposing the politically contentious carbon cap-and-trade and carbon tax policies thought to be necessary to significantly reduce global warming. However, she has adopted positions that extend President Obama’s existing efforts, and wants to install a billion solar panels by 2020 and generate enough renewable energy to power every home in America within the next 10 years.
Climate change will especially injure countries with coastlines as sea levels rise and extreme weather events worsen and become more common, and Israel is no exception. Climate change tends to intensify temperature extremes, while simultaneously raising average temperatures. For a desert country like Israel with already extreme temperatures, this means that summers will be drier, hotter, and longer, while winters will be shorter but with stronger rains. This effect will contribute to increased transmission of diseases as mosquitoes and other carriers encounter less cold weather, and therefore die off at lower rates, leaving more time throughout the year to infect people.
The second way U.S. environmental policy will impact Israel is through its economy. Israel is a leading exporter of environmental goods to the United States, including solar panels, desalination, irrigation, and wastewater treatment technologies, exporting close to $500 million a year. If the U.S. lives up to its commitments to the Paris Climate Accords and remains committed to the Clean Power Plan, demand for environmental goods in the U.S. stands to increase substantially as it invests in new technologies to meet emissions goals and adapt to changing conditions. Israel, a world leader in environmental, biological, and high-tech innovation, and the nation with more start-ups per capita than any other, will have a terrific opportunity to increase exports to the U.S.
The steps the next U.S. president takes regarding climate change will have a tremendous impact on Israel, both in terms of its climate and its economy. If the U.S. takes a strong stance against climate change, Israel will benefit greatly from increased American investment in its environmental sector. If, however, the U.S. chooses to spit in the face of agreed upon science and hamstring decades of environmental progress, Israel will face environmental challenges far more significant than those it has already worked so hard to overcome.
Toby Mirman is currently serving as a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow, through which he teaches English to middle schoolers in Rishon LeZion, Israel. A native of West Hartford, Conn., he graduated in May 2016 from Johns Hopkins University with a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Global Environmental Change and Sustainability.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward [and/or Masa Israel Journey].
The Roanoke Times: Lid: Finding My Spark – From Roanoke to Israel">The Roanoke Times: Lid: Finding My Spark – From Roanoke to Israel
By Shaina Lidd
When the clock struck midnight on January 1, 2015, I wasn’t full of joy, but panic. It was officially my graduation year, and I felt as lost as ever. In just five short months, I would be graduating with degrees in International Relations and Religious Studies from Roanoke College, but I had no “next step.” My friends seemed to have everything planned out – moving to new cities, finding jobs, getting engaged. I was confused as ever, as far from “figured out” as you could get.
I knew what I wanted to do long term – I want to go into academia, but I did not know what exactly I wanted to study, or where I wanted to study. The only thing I knew I wanted to do was to research peace and conflict. I spent most of my time senior year planning and executing the first ever Israel-Palestine Peace Month at Roanoke, which I coordinated with two friends – two of us Jewish and one Palestinian. I was learning more and more each day about the Israeli-Arab conflict, and knew that I wanted to learn more. It was much more complicated than I had ever thought, and I knew that I would never get the full story unless I went and experienced it myself.
One thing led to another, and I found myself on a plane to Israel to participate in a Masa Israel Journey program. Masa gave me the chance to choose from hundreds of programs through which I could intern at cutting-edge companies, volunteer, study or teach English. Through Masa Israel Teaching Fellows (MITF), I was first trained in teaching English, and then I was tasked with my own classroom, teaching English in an Israeli school.
However, my program was different than for others who had done it before. For the first time, through a partnership Masa developed with the Ministry of Education due to the needs the ministry was observing in Arab communities, MITF would have a cohort of Americans teaching English in Rahat, a Bedouin-Arab city near Be’er Sheva in the desert while we also spent time learning together at the Bina Secular Yeshiva, an educational institution in Be’er Sheva.
I was drawn to the program in great part because of my experiences as a Jewish student at Roanoke College, a school where only 27 people self-identified as Jewish my senior year. Through a friendship with a Palestinian-American student whose family manages a coexistence project in Bethlehem, and my time organizing Israeli-Palestinian Peace Month, as well as my studies in class, I knew I wanted to explore co-existence in the flesh.
Seeing something is believing in it, but experiencing something is understanding it. I entered Al Huda School in Rahat with little to no understanding of the Bedouin culture or experience within Israeli society, but left with a love and appreciation for the culture and the people. I learned about the people, about the education system within Bedouin cities and Israeli society in general, and about myself. I began to understand the big issues at hand, but also the smaller, less obvious challenges and nuances. The more I seemed to learn, the more questions I had. And as I questioned the world and society around me, I began to understand myself more as well.
Going on my “masa” (which literally means “journey” in Hebrew) taught me that the world is much more complicated and interesting than it seems on paper. There is only so much we can learn from books. Moving to Israel opened my eyes to the world around me, and offered me a chance to explore not only the topics that I found myself drawn to during college, but also to the topics I hope to explore in the future.
My masa changed the direction of my future in many ways, and has allowed me to explore new possibilities. I am making Aliyah (immigrating to Israel) this December and hope to continue to work toward Jewish-Arab peace; I will be studying for my master’s degree in government at the Interdisciplinary Center in Hertzliya. Furthermore, I am excited to be a part of the people of Israel, and to further grow personally. Being in Israel gives me a spark I don’t feel anywhere else, a spark that pushes me to try new things, take risks, study harder and live more. I am so thankful for MITF for introducing me to a whole new world, and I’m so excited to see where my masa continues.
Shaina Lidd of Stafford County, is a 2015 graduate of Roanoke College. She recently returned from a year participating on Masa Israel Teaching Fellows, a program teaching English in Israel, and will soon be making Aliyah (immigrating to Israel).