After living in Israel for a brief two years when she was a toddler, Emily Hochberg always wondered what her life would have been like if her family had stayed. “I would have gone to the army,” Emily says. “Instead, I grew up in a small town in Connecticut, and while the rest of my classmates took vacations to the Caribbean, my family headed to Israel.”
While studying journalism at George Washington University, Emily landed an internship with People magazine, which put her on the entertainment track. But after two years as a celebrity talent booker in Los Angeles and another as a freelance journalist for a celebrity news site, Emily was ready for a change. “I wanted to go abroad but I didn’t just want to take time off,” says Emily. “I wanted to do something that would benefit my career.”
Emily found this opportunity through Masa Israel’s Career Israel, a five-month internship program. While living in Tel Aviv alongside peers from around the world, Emily interned at Ha’aretz and The Jerusalem Post.
“At the Post, I was basically a freelance journalist,” says Emily. “I went around the city and wrote profiles, travel stories, and art and entertainment pieces.” Struck by the number of people who smoked in bars—illegally—Emily set out to interview the bar owners, smokers, and non-smokers and wrote up an exposé. When Ha’Maoz, a new bar that was decorated like an apartment opened on her street, Emily reviewed it.
Also while in Israel, Emily became part of a group of friends that traveled around the country, including her current boyfriend, another Career Israel alum. She also spent time with her Israeli family. “On Rosh Hashanah, I stayed with my aunt and walked from synagogue to synagogue,” says Emily. “I saw that the country shuts down and how much joy people take in the holiday.”
Shortly after returning from Israel and settling in New York, Emily was hired to produce websites for several MTV shows, and spent long hours managing page updates and creating new content. “I loved my coworkers, but I wanted to do something that was more meaningful for me,” says Emily. “If I was going to be spending so much time at a job, I needed to have a personal connection to it.”
When Emily received an offer to be the Israel Action Network’s Director of Communications and Social Media and Research, she was thrilled. A joint project of the Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Council of Public Affairs, the Israel Action Network fights the delegitimization of Israel.
“It’s amazing to be able to spread the message of Israel while doing what I love,” says Emily. “Before Career Israel, I’d been to Israel a lot to visit family. But my Masa Israel experience gave me the chance to actually forge my own personal connection to the land.”