Masa Israel/JESNA Joint Initiative Prepares Jewish Students for Careers in Jewish Education

December 20, 2010

Masa Israel Journey and the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA) today announced the launch of the Lainer-Masa Israel Fellowship, a two-year program for Jewish young adults interested in careers in Jewish education.
This joint venture will engage North American Masa Israel undergraduate university participants while in Israel and place them in a second year internship upon returning to their campuses.
Building on JESNA’s successful Lainer Israel Internship Program and Masa Israel’s access to North American young adults on long-term Israel programs, this new capacity-building initiative is to nurture and prepare a cadre of Jewish college students who are committed to advancing Jewish education and leadership throughout their personal and professional lives.
“The Lainer Israel Internship program has elevated the field of Jewish education by supplying unique Israel based experiential learning to over 800 participants since its inception in 1992. This exciting collaboration with Masa Israel marks a new era for the program,” says Dr. Leora Isaacs, JESNA’s Vice-President for Programs and Organizational Learning. “The combination of JESNA’s long term success and Masa’s reach will enable the new Lainer-Masa Israel Fellowship program to bring forth greater numbers of future Jewish leaders.”
Accepted students studying abroad at Masa Israel-accredited study abroad programs will enroll in the course, “Issues in American Jewish Education,” participate in fieldwork internships at formal and informal education programs in Israeli schools, youth groups, or community centers, and take part in Shabbatonim, fieldtrips and workshops. After they return to their college campuses Lainer-Masa Israel Fellows will obtain related internships and mentors, and take part in a winter educational seminar in Malibu, California. Masa Israel and JESNA staff will provide career guidance and professional development information to graduating students.
“As Masa Israel participation continues to rise, more and more Masa Israel alumni return to the United States interested in pursuing careers in Jewish organizations,” says Masa Israel’s North American Director, Avi Rubel. “The Lainer-Masa Israel Fellowship will help to prepare the next generation of Israel and Jewish educators.”
The Lainer Israel Internship program, funded by the Lainer family, was launched in 1992 as a way to engage college students in thinking about Jewish education or Jewish communal work as a future career. The program is able to boast a 60% success rate of continued involvement in Jewish education and communal service as a professional, lay leader or volunteer.
This year, Masa Israel, which offers 180 five-to-12-month volunteering, career development, and academic programs, will bring 10,000 participants to Israel, many of whom have chosen to pursue Jewish and Israel-related career paths. According to a recent study conducted by professors at NYU, Hebrew Union College, and Brandeis University, longer experiences in Israel are linked to sharply increased Jewish engagement, leadership, and marrying Jews.
The first winter seminar for Lainer-Masa Israel Fellows will take place on December 20-22, 2010 in Malibu, CA.
For more information about the Lainer-Masa Israel Fellowship, contact JESNA’s Chief Marketing Officer Rika Levin at (212) 284-6703 and North America Director of Masa Israel Journey, Avi Rubel at (212) 339-6938 or For information about alumni from your area, contact
Below are just two examples of the Lainer Israel Internship alumni and Masa Israel alumni who have shown continued Jewish involvement:
Aimee Weiss
During her junior year at Hebrew University, American University student Aimee Weiss took part in the Lainer Israel Internship program. Aimee, who grew up in what she calls, “a typical Jewish assimilated home,” says, “The internship was most helpful for my career path.” In addition to taking courses about trends in Jewish education, she learned about an assortment of Jewish internships from the Lainer interns’ listserv, and was accepted to those offered by CAJE and Masa Israel Journey. Today, she is the Midwest Regional Coordinator for Masa Israel and Hagshama.
Rina Goldberg
As a psychology and Jewish education major at York University, Rina Goldberg decided to study abroad at Masa Israel’s program at Hebrew University. There she took courses in Jewish education and tutored English, Hebrew and math at a local Israeli elementary school through the Lainer Israel Internship. Upon her return, she enrolled in the Jewish Theological Seminary’s graduate program in Jewish education. Today, she is a kindergarten teacher at the Heschel School in New York City.