New Jersey Jewish Standard: Meeting a teaching challenge: Jewish Americans spend ten months in Israel's toughest schools

March 9, 2012

Like the majority of 75 Israel Teaching Fellows, Samuel Azner of Hackensack discovered the Jewish homeland through a 10-day Birthright trip and wanted to return for a longer stay. 
Now he is more than halfway through a pilot 10-month service program conceived to provide English teachers in underprivileged communities. “My background is in criminal justice, and I worked with children in Toledo and Michigan, and then in an adult special-needs program in Wayne, where I grew up,” said the 25-year-old. “Then I found myself out of work, came to Israel, and found out about this program.”
Now he and 22 others are teaching 20 hours a week in Netanya, while the others are working at schools in Rehovot, Ramle-Lod, Rishon LeZion, and Petach Tikva. Each are paid just $1,000 to participate. Expenses are picked up by the sponsoring Israeli Ministry of Education and Masa Israel Journey.
Israel Teaching Fellows is the newest of Masa Israel’s many “immersive service opportunities that allow young adults to impact Israel in a sustainable way while having a genuine Israel and Jewish experience,” said the organization’s North American director, Avi Rubel. About 11,000 post-college students are in Israel this year participating in 16 Masa Israel service programs.