Photo Credit: Ariel Rubinstein, Masa Israel Teaching Fellow in Ashdod


By Marissa Steinhofer, Masa Israel Teaching Fellow in Ashdod

When I was first presented the idea of going to Kibbutz Kramim for Masa Israel Mifgashim Shabbaton, I was both excited and nervous. I knew it would be an interesting experience, but I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Being back on a kibbutz reminded me of my first time in Israel. My first experience in Israel, was my junior year of high school for my spring semester. I was living with 120 other students on Kibbutz Tzuba. Kibbutz Tzuba is in the Judean Hills right outside Jerusalem and I felt like we were part of community that lived there. Sure Kramim it wasn’t the same kibbutz, but it was as beautiful as Tzuba was. Kibbutz Kramim is in the Negev about twenty minutes outside of Be’er Sheva and is a very unique community. On this kibbutz there are secular Jewish families and religious Jewish families living together and working together.

This weekend was very intimate. In total we were around 100 people-participants from around the world and from different Masa Israel Programs. They broke us into 5 smaller groups who were the people we did most of our learning with. I seriously loved all of the people that I meet this weekend. As we discussed the topic of community, I felt that I connected with so many different people from around the world! This was definitely a change from being around my roommates who are American like me. Don’t get me wrong, I love learning about my roommates and their stories, but this weekend I got to experience something new. I really enjoyed learning about how community has a different meaning for different people. 

During one of the group activities we were asked to think about a specific community and how it has contributed to our life. One of the most important communities I am a part of is my camp community and it was the first thing that popped into my head. My camp community has given me so much of the past 15 years. It has been a place that helped me shape my Jewish identity and develop my love for Judaism. It also provided me with confidence, strength, love, and tools to be able to be a role model to Jewish youth. Our group discussion showed me how camp is one of the biggest communities I am a part of and sometimes I take it for granted.

Not only did I learn about myself, but I also discovered so much about others. There were definitely times throughout the weekend that someone from somewhere across the globe would describe a community that they are a part of and I would think in my head “Wow I can totally relate” or “I am part of that community too.”  It amazed me how as Jews from around the world we all have had such similar experiences even though we come from such different places. 

All the different conversations that I was involved in, the group activities and our visits to communities in Be’er Sheva led me to add to my personal definition of community. I am going back to Ashdod with a deeper understanding of what community means to others, how they are affected by the communities they are a part of, and a great new group of friends! Thank you Masa Israel and Hillel International for a wonderful Mifgashim weekend of learning and fun!



Internship Wishlist
Your Internship Wishlist
Apply To Your Top 5 Internships All At Once
Skip to content