Having progressed through the Conservative movement’s landmark institutions and programs for youth, from Solomon Schechter Day School to U.S.Y. to Ramah Seminar in Israel, Jenna Silverman viewed Nativ as the next step in her life as a Conservative Jew. “My older sister went on Nativ a few years before and it was a great opportunity to live in Israel without having other things to worry about in my life,” she said.
While on Nativ, Jenna studied at Hebrew University during the first part of the year and then lived and volunteered as an English teacher for fourth to sixth grades in Be’er Sheva. “The kids were so appreciative to be learning from a native English speaker, and living in Be’er Sheva was great for me,” Jenna said. “Because Be’er Sheva is not Americanized, I was able to learn Hebrew, become a part of the culture, and venture outside the American bubble.”
When Jenna began her studies at the University of Maryland, she became involved in the Jewish Student Union. Jenna’s position as a Masa Israel campus representative led to greater involvement in Jewish communities on campus. “Because it is a non-political and non-religiously affiliated organization, I was able to advertise Masa Israel in a variety of Jewish and pro-Israel programs,” Jenna said. Some of the activities at which Jenna promoted Masa Israel programs include Piece of Parsha, a gathering in which students study the weekly Torah portion, a poker tournament co-sponsored with AEPi, and an event featuring a speaker from Sderot Media Center.
As a result of her presence in many different Israel and Jewish arenas on campus, Jenna recruited the second-highest number of college students to Masa Israel programs.
This year, in addition to continuing her work as a Masa Israel campus representative, Jenna will represent students on the Hillel International Board of Directors, a position for which she was nominated by the director of the University of Maryland’s Hillel.
Jenna believes that it is a result of her year spent in Israel that she has attained her position in the Jewish community on campus and that a long-term experience will prove just as valuable for others. “My experiences in Israel further connected me, just being there and living in a strong Jewish environment,” she said. “It’s so important for me to share my experiences with people in college, because we’re at the best time in our lives to go. We’re trying to find ourselves now, and living in Israel while immersed in the culture helps solidify our connection to Judaism for the rest of our lives.”