Top-Notch College Grads Forgo US Job Search to Teach in Israel

January 24, 2012

Following a successful pilot year that placed 68 North American young adults as volunteer teachers’ aides in Israeli public schools, Masa Israel Journey has opened 200 spots for next year’s Israel Teaching Fellows (ITF) program.
Launched by Israel’s Ministry of Education and Masa Israel Journey, ITF was created to address the widespread underperformance of youth in low-income communities. Masa Israel Journey is a joint project of the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Government of Israel, which runs service, internship and academic programs in Israel.
With the US’s lingering economic challenges, ITF has seen a surge in applications from high caliber recent college graduates who are forgoing the job search for meaningful service opportunities abroad.
Following a two-year stint in healthcare, Harvard graduate Julia Kingsdale left Boston to teach in Israel’s periphery. “There’s something sort of spontaneous, albeit chaotic, about Israel,” said Kingsdale. “Teaching in Israel requires a mindset shift where you can’t intensely plan every detail; you need to focus on the situation at hand, which is something I find really refreshing.”
For Teach for America alumnus Chris Harty, who taught in Southern Louisiana, the Israeli classroom experience has expanded his professional insights. “I came to Israel because I wanted to see how a different education system works,” said Harty. “I’ve learned that in Israel, students can run through the hallways and still show up to class on time and ready to learn.”
In addition to teaching for 20 hours a week, Teaching Fellows receive ongoing pedagogical support, enroll in Hebrew courses, live alongside peers in their communities, and develop secondary volunteer programs.
After teaching John Lennon’s “Imagine” to his class, Emory-graduate Brian Levenson volunteered to prepare a few of his students to sing it at their school-wide talent show. Kingsdale, who now wants to pursue a career in teaching, is launching an after-school reading program.
“Today one of my students, who could barely identify English letters at the beginning of the year, matched colors with their English words,” said Levenson. “It feels good to make a difference.”
For more information about Israel Teaching Fellows, visit: To speak with an Israel Teaching Fellow from your community, contact Masa Israel’s North American Director of Public Relations Rachel Trager Sales at (212) 339-6048, (917) 371-5569 or