By Yehudit Werchow, Director of Education
Jan Lievens' "The Feast of Esther" (Via Wiki Media Commons)
"וַיֹּאמֶר מָרְדֳּכַי לְהָשִׁיב אֶל אֶסְתֵּר אַל תְּדַמִּי בְנַפְשֵׁךְ לְהִמָּלֵט בֵּית הַמֶּלֶךְ מִכָּל הַיְּהוּדִים. כִּי אִם הַחֲרֵשׁ תַּחֲרִישִׁי בָּעֵת הַזֹּאת רֶוַח וְהַצָּלָה יַעֲמוֹד לַיְּהוּדִים מִמָּקוֹם אַחֵר וְאַתְּ וּבֵית אָבִיךְ תֹּאבֵדוּ וּמִי יוֹדֵעַ אִם לְעֵת כָּזֹא הִגַּעַתְּ לַמַּלְכוּת." (מגלית אסתר פרק ד)
“And Mordechai told the palace messenger: Tell Esther – don’t think about your own wellbeing at a time when the lives of all Jews are in the balance. Because if you are silent now, salvation will surely come to the Jews from another source anyway, and your legacy, and your father’s, will be lost to history. Who knows if this is the entire reason you were made Queen?” (the Scroll of Esther, Chapter 4)
In this excerpt from the Book of Esther, Mordechai, Jewish leader and a relative of the newly-chosen young queen, asks Esther to do something bold: Advocate for her hated People, even as she has kept her nationality to herself until this point.
Edwin Longsden Long's "Esther Haram" (Via Wiki Media Commons)
How many times have we found ourselves struggling, avoiding, or resisting action? At times it could be because we are not sure if we understand the motivation behind the action or its purpose, sometimes it’s because we feel that the call for action is external or that the timing is not ideal.
There are times when our resistance emerges from our fears of change, disapproval, insecurities (are we talented enough, strong enough, safe, resourceful) or from our fear of being successful, from letting our talent be present and seen.
Esther, just like many of us, is, before approaching the King on behalf of her People, which she had kept secret, facing her own moment of inner struggle and transformation. In her case, the call for action is coming from Mordechai. It seems that at first, she struggles with it. Perhaps it’s because of the scope of the act, the circumstances, which are understandably intimidating and obviously threatening.
Aert de Gelder's "Esther and Mordechai writing the second letter of Purim" (Via Wiki Media Commons)
Yet, she embraces the call and acts on it with courage and beauty, giving of herself, using her emotional intelligence for the greater good.
Calls for action don’t necessarily need to come from within, and this doesn’t mean that these are any less legitimate. It feels like Esther connected with her inner truth and motivations to act and these powerful sources empowered and liberated her from the paralyzing fears driving her to act so courageously and resourcefully, to come to a place of giving.
Purim and the Megilla are invitations to reunite our personal and collective deepest values, motivations and strengths. Invitations to give back to our family and friends, to Israel, our own communities and the Jewish people. Let’s embrace these invitations and grow with them.
This Purim, join the Masa Israel community and show the world where you’re living and giving:
Download the sign here, write your city on the map and share your picture using #MasaGives.
Welcome to the Masa Israel family, Meara Razon Ashtivker
Meara joins us from the hi-tech sector, where she served as C.O.O. at Boomset, an innovative event-tech company, managing sales and marketing and spearheading global partnerships. Prior to joining Boomset, Meara held the position of V.P. of community outreach for Jspace.com where she created and executed a marketing plan, as well as planned and produced mass-attended events.
True to our mission, Meara has lived it like a local, having spent significant time living, working and studying in Israel. After receiving her B.A. from the University of Hartford, she was selected to participate in the Otzma program. In the years following, she moved to Miami to work with Young Judaea and returned to Israel to work for the Jewish Agency for Israel. Meara received an M.A. in non-profit management from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem while working for Beit Hatfutsot.
Meara served as the board chair for Dor Chadash and sat on the board of directors of the American Zionist Movement and the Moatza in New York.
In her new position as Masa Israel’s North American COO, where she will be managing the national recruitment and marketing efforts in the US.
She plans on expanding her vast global and local partner network, industry insight and international know-how to continue to bring an increasing number of young Jews to Israel in order to impact the futures of both.
We wish her, and us, much success! Welcome to the Masa Israel family, Meara.
Texas Jewish Post: Arlington-born Unger teaching Israeli kids English">Texas Jewish Post: Arlington-born Unger teaching Israeli kids English
By Ben Tinsley
In a place very far removed from his hometown of Arlington, native Texan Max Unger teaches English to Israeli children in Ramle-Lod through Masa Israel’s Teaching Fellows program.
Max Unger, a 26-year-old Texas-Arlington graduate, tutors underprivileged students in Ramle-Lod.
The 26-year-old University of Texas at Arlington graduate said this is an incredibly rewarding experience.
“It’s great because I feel like I’m making a difference — sharing a gift,” Unger said during a recent telephone interview from Israel. “English is the unofficial language of business and it is very important to speak it. Many Israelis want to speak English. I mean, I’m not solving world hunger or anything but this is a gift, a tiny gift. The kids where I teach don’t get that much exposure to languages.”
In honor of Presidents' Day, we're challenging you to see how much you know about U.S. and Israeli Presidents:
Valentine's Day may not be a Jewish holiday, but we can't stop ourselves from kvelling over all of these beautiful alumni couples who met in Israel:
Supposedly John Travolta
Moshe turning his staff into a snake
Famous Rabbi 1
Famous Rabbi 2
Women Carrying Fruit
Working the land
So when you are in Jerusalem on Shabbat, take a stroll through the Machane Yehuda Market and see all different pieces of art. If you’re visiting it in the winter, make sure to bundle up!
Blog post and photos by Garrett Davis who is currently a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow in Beer Sheva and Masa Influencer. Follow Garrett's Journey on his blog: https://g13israel.wordpress.com/
The Eco-Israel Experience: A Hungarian Perspective">The Eco-Israel Experience: A Hungarian Perspective
My name is David, I’m 18 years old and from Budapest, Hungary. I take part in a program called Eco-Israel, which is a five-month program on a sustainable community farm near the city of Modi’in. We are a group of eight “Ecos”, living and volunteering together with the local young Israelis.
So you’re going to Israel for a 4-10 month Masa Israel program. You probably want to share your experiences with people or maybe your overbearing Jewish mother is nudging you. Either way, blogging is one of our favorite ways to shine a light on our impressive participants, like you!
Living on the Land: Vegan Tu B’Shvat Recipes from Eco-Israel ">Living on the Land: Vegan Tu B’Shvat Recipes from Eco-Israel
Tu B’Shvat is the Jewish new year of the trees. In Israel people get together and celebrate by eating delicious foods made with the 7 species of the season.
Masa Israel's Eco-Israel prgram embraces this holiday every day of the year by living on and off-of the land. Participants learn permaculture and agriculture while living sustainably on an organic farm.
Wow! We can hardly believe 2015 is already coming to a close and we’re sure you’re all reminiscing on the year that has passed. Both in terms of achievements and experiences, here at Masa Israel we have had a pretty incredible 2015. Let’s look back on this year and recap our 10 best Masa Israel Moments!
1.Our 2015 AIPAC Policy Conference Delegation