Volunteer | Masa Israel


Masa Israel Alumni Bar Night: Washington, D.C.">Masa Israel Alumni Bar Night: Washington, D.C.

Start Date: 
September 12, 2017 - 17:00
End date: 
September 12, 2017 - 19:00
Washington, D.C.
1825 14th St NW, Washington, D


Join Masa Israel Journey for an Alumni Bar Night on Tuesday, Sept. 12 from 5:00 - 7:00 PM at MASA 14. 

It's the perfect chance to reminisce about your Masa Israel program and meet our new Mid-Atlantic Regional Representative, Stephanie. 

The event is open to all Masa Israel alumni and those interested in long-term opportunities in Israel through. 

For questions or comments about the event, please email StephanieA@MasaIsrael.org.


Stephanie Aseraph">Stephanie Aseraph

Representative (D.C., Maryland, Virginia, & Delaware)

Stephanie Aseraph is the Masa Regional Representative for D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware. Prior to joining the Masa team, she attended Towson University for both her undergraduate and graduate degree, where she received a B.A. in Family Studies & Human Services, and an M.A. in Leadership in Jewish Education & Communal Service. Although born and raised in Maryland, Stephanie grew up in an Israeli home. As she would travel to Israel often throughout her childhood, Stephanie’s passion for Israel and its culture became stronger. Stephanie’s love for Israel is what drove her to participate in Masa over a semester abroad at Tel Aviv University. Upon her return, Stephanie was Towson University’s Masa Israel Campus Ambassador. The impact of her abroad experience is what brought her here to help others in her region travel to Israel and create their own journey.  

Caroline Levine">Caroline Levine

Canada Representative

Caroline Levine is a proud graduate of McGill University's school of social work. Since graduating she has been working in the Montreal Jewish community. She worked as an Engagement Associate at Hillel Montreal for five years. And since 2016 she is the Masa Israel Journey representative in Montreal, head of her local MIT (Madrichim in Training) leadership program, responsible for Birthright Israel and post trip programming, which are all a part of GenMTL, a department of Federation CJA. She has staffed several Israel experiences and several other immersive experiences (in Uruguay, Berlin, and Florida).

Dafna Silberstein">Dafna Silberstein

Masa Canada Representative

Dafna was born in Israel and moved to Vancouver in 2012 after pursuing her Masters in Diplomatic Studies from Tel Aviv University.
In Vancouver, Dafna continued to follow her passion for working with non-profit organizations and young adults.
Dafna has been working at the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver since 2013 as a program coordinator in the Israel and Overseas Department.
Currently, she is a representative of Masa Israel Journey.
Dafna shares her love of Israel through her work with Masa and programs such as Birthright and March of the Living

What is Home?">What is Home?

Posted June 12th, 2017

Title Image Credit: Pixabay


By Sydney Peterson, Masa Israel Teaching Fellow in Be'er Sheva


Walking down that marble ramp for yet another time, I can’t tell you how it felt. I was home. For once home wasn’t landing in a small airport and being able to run into my mom’s arms just a couple of minutes after departing the plane. Instead, it was 13 complete strangers waiting to congregate on the other side of baggage claim. I was finally starting to live my dream. Not only did I spend most of my summer traveling, but now I would also be living abroad. After passport control, home would be in another city, in another country. I would be on the other side of the world.


Once I exited baggage claim and stumbled around the arrivals hall, I found the first two members of my new family. Sam (who would soon become my roommate), Garrett (who would become my best friend), and I sat around getting to know each other. Over time, our small circle grew as more people arrived and the luggage pile grew exponentially. Every time another person arrived we became more excited and restless, even though we all felt like we were covered in a layer of exhaustion. Reality was setting in and the clock was quickly approaching our four o’clock pickup time. With every movement of the clock hand we came closer to completing our family and heading to our new home.


After what seemed like a lifetime, the clock struck four. We met our madrichim, ate some sandwiches and headed off to the ‘capital of the desert,’ Be’er Sheva. The ride was filled with exuberant voices and endless chatter. “What’s your name?” “Where did you go to school?” At the time, these questions seemed so relevant. It’s crazy to think how much we would know about each other in just a few months’ time. Amongst the chatter, many of us found ourselves agreeing to buy tickets to concerts in the next week. Plans were being made; life in Israel was starting. The ride felt like it took forever, but eventually we got our roommates and our keys and we were home.


Home was a two-bedroom apartment with three people in it. The hot plate wasn’t the best and the microwave was a bit questionable. The kitchen itself was small, and the bedrooms smaller, but home is home, no matter the size. Home was also these two girls who I knew nothing about. Still, I could tell that the three of us would create an amazing home.


Shortly after dropping off our things, the group went for a neighborhood walk to orient ourselves. Afterwards, it was all about unpacking and packing a new bag because we were heading up north the next day. It was my first day home and the craziness had already started.


Flash forward to 10 months later, it’s the beginning of June now and I only have a month left on the program. It’s crazy how time flies, right? I can’t believe that I’m starting to think about how to pack my bags and how the lessons I’ve learned during this experience will impact the next chapter in my life.


Here are seven of the most important lessons I learned during my time as a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow:


  1. 1. Language Barriers are Beatable

    Whenever you travel or decide to live somewhere when the native tongue is different than your own, people will always tell you how difficult the language barrier will be. However, I will never be one of those people. Language barriers are one of my favorite things. Whether I need to play a game of charades in the shuk or I’m lucky enough to be able to use my phone to help me, I love the challenge and I love the feeling that both parties have when you know you’re understood.

    Students' Drawing

    The drawing in this photo was created by some of my fourth graders. They weren’t able to explain the entire drawing to me so I had them use Morfix online dictionary to translate. The literal translation of the drawing is “man sitting on a couch and eats an egg and he died.” This was one of my favorite moments with my students because as soon as I started laughing they lit up with happiness. The barrier is beatable, never forget that


  2. 2. Israel Has Some of the Best Sunsets


    My top favorites have to be from my apartment window in Be’er Sheva (top left) and anywhere along the sea, like Jaffa Port (bottom left) and Netanya (right).


  3. 3. The Food in Israel is Fantastic and Diverse

    Israeli Food

    There is something for everyone in Israeli restaurants. From eating some of the best fruit in the shuks to the most interesting desserts, it’s been a delicious year. I’ve managed to put professional pomegranate eater (check out the pomegranate opened by your truly, bottom left) on my resume and found some of the largest strawberries I’ve ever seen. I also have yet to finish a bowl of hummus, but I still have a month left to try. If you find yourself in Be’er Sheva, I highly recommend you check out Hummus Shel Tahini (top left) or Hummus Said. Additionally, the sandwich place on Ringelblum called Pinat Ochel, is a must try, even if you don’t like sandwiches. I have a strong dislike for sandwiches, but the people here know my name and order by heart (bottom right). Finally if you’re around Israel during Hanukkah and looking for a unique choice of sufganiyot check out Roladin (top right)!


  4. 4. Blundstones are a Necessity


    Coming to Israel I really didn’t plan on shopping or spending money. I was here on a budget (and still am). The first and to this day one of the only things I bought in Israel were Blundstones. A bunch of the girls on my program really wanted to own a pair because everyone in Israel wears them! Our madrich told us the best place to buy them. I eventually hopped on the Blundstone train and now five of us all have matching shoes. I wore them to death from October to March. They’ve seen rainy and snowy Europe. They’ve experienced Australian beaches and Israeli hikes from Beit She'an National Park (top) to the beaches of Tel Aviv (bottom) . My boots have been around the world and they’re still walking. Plus, they’re how Israelis spot each other outside of Israel. When I was in Brussels, I ran into a couple of people who asked where I was from because of the shoes I was wearing. Turned out that they were Israeli and asked because they saw my boots.


  5. 5. Connections are Incredibly Important


    Left: my madrich Asaf, my friend Moss, and me. Top right: my friend Sam and me. Bottom right: my friend Katie and me.


    No matter whether you travel with family, friends or just yourself, it’s the people who you meet along the way that make the experience. I came to Israel expecting to meet some amazing people. I never could have imagined the experiences that would come along the way. If you told me 10 months ago that I’d run a 10k I would have told you that you’re crazy. I would have called you even crazier if you’d tell me that I’d also voluntarily run/climb/crawl/jump my way through a mud run. Along the way I’ve made friends who are equally as insane as me and some who I’ve dragged all around Be’er Sheva to add content to my Instagram. I’ve gone on unexpected adventures with people from other cities and shared some incredible sunsets. It’s always amazing when your best friend lives thirty seconds from you but it’s also a nice feeling to know you always have a couch to crash on in the next city over, just in case you’re in need of a new adventure. 


  6. 6. "Those Who Mind Don't Matter and Those Who Matter Don't Mind." - Dr. Seuss


    Top: Me in Mamshit National Park. Middle: Me in Florentin, Tel Aviv. Bottom: Me, somewhere in the Judaean Desert


    One of the guys on my program loves to dance. It doesn’t matter if we’re in a club with the music blaring or if he’s walking down the street with headphones plugged in; I promise you, he’s dancing. A friend from another city saw him in action one day and said “I love how no matter what, he is undeniably himself.” I think that was my biggest lesson of this year, to always be undeniably me, no matter where I am.


  7. 7. Family Makes the World Go 'Round

    My Be'er Sheva Family

    My Be’er Sheva family in the Welcome to Be’er Sheva sign (top) and somewhere in the Judaean Desert (bottom)


    My Be’er Sheva familly may have its dysfunctional moments, but we will always have each other’s backs. It’s been quite the year and I couldn’t imagine sharing it with anyone else.


It’s been a crazy ride and I would not have it any other way. This home I built over the last 10 months has been incredible. It was created through unique friendships, interesting experiences and meaningful connections. This year proved to me that my definition of home is not a place or a person; it’s a feeling.


It’s that feeling you get when you know you can always see a gorgeous desert sunset from your bedroom window, or when you spend a night on the beach stargazing with people who have become life-long friends. It’s in the late night heart to hearts that you never want to end and in the early morning coffee runs. It’s knowing that your best friends are only a few seconds away and that adventure is always on the horizon. My home is created in the knowledge that I will always build roots no matter where I am, but I will always have my wings to take me wherever I want to go.


Leaving here isn’t going to be as easy as I thought it would be. Israel’s become a true home away from home and it will always have a piece of my heart. It won’t be the same when this program is over, but I know my next Israeli adventure, whenever it may be, will be just as amazing in its own way. I know this isn’t goodbye, it’s just lehitraot, or see you later.


Shalom Elcott">Shalom Elcott

North American CEO (New York City)

Shalom specializes in the creation and management of start-up philanthropic endeavors, developing synergies that help foundations, high net worth families, and philanthropists implement their visions. He has worked with a broad international array of funders, foundations and organizations on all aspects of philanthropy. Two of his proudest achievements are The Children's Memorial at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem for the Spiegel Family and The Tel Aviv Cinematheque for the Municipality of Tel Aviv.

Most recently, Shalom created a national STEM Education Initiative in Israel for The Henry and Susan Samueli Foundation, developed the B2T Sustainability Project for YK Center in the US, Europe, Africa and Armenia,  and co-created the new Meaningful Influencers Platform for Lifestyles Magazine where he serves as Vice Chairman.

Previously, Shalom served for a decade as President and CEO of Jewish Federation and Family Services in Orange County California, as Director of the American and International Committees for the Tel Aviv Foundation, and as Cofounder and Director of the Israel Air Force Center & the Fisher Institute for Air Power.

In 1997, Shalom relocated to Israel to create the United Way of Israel (Matan -Your Way to Give) a vision of Israeli businesswomen and philanthropist Shari Arison, which has raised and distributed millions of dollars and generated hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours across the country. Upon the death of Ted Arison, Shalom assumed the Presidency of the Ted Arison Family Foundation and helped build its infrastructure and funding models.

Shalom and his wife Robin, with whom he founded Index LLC, have four children and three grandchildren.

9 Ways to Deal with Reverse Culture Shock">9 Ways to Deal with Reverse Culture Shock

Posted May 23rd, 2017

Title Image Credit: Pixabay


By Rachel Greenberg, Nativ Alumna


It’s hard feeling like a stranger in your own home, but just as you needed time to adjust when you got to Israel, so too you need to adjust back to life here in the United States of America. When you were in Israel, you probably did not realize how much you changed every day, but you did. You learned from everyone around you, picked up new mannerisms, and adapted completely to a totally new lifestyle. So what happens now that you’re home? You’re not the same person you were when you left, but everything around you remains seemingly unchanged.


Here are 9 ways to deal with reverse culture shock:


  1. 1. Share Your Experiences

    Now that you’re home it may seem like you’re alone, but your friends, family, and community do want to hear about how you lived like a local, became a master negotiator in the shuk, and found your way around Israel via public transportation. Plus, if you become a mentor for others who want to go abroad, you will always have an attentive audience to share your story with!


  2. 2. Stay Informed

    Jerusalem Post Lite


    If you’re feeling out of the loop, check social media and Israeli news sites to stay up-to-date with current events in Israel. This can not only help you feel connected, but you’ll be able to talk to other alumni and friends about what’s going on in Israel. Don’t just revert back to who you were before your experience; instead, wear your elephant pants out, everywhere you go, and rock it!


  3. 3. Write About it

    Computer and Notebook


    Sometimes, the best way to express your feelings about your experience abroad is to write about. Writing allows you to positively articulate your feelings and express you sentiments about your recent return to America. Ten years from now, you will look back at something you wrote and you and make yourself fall in love with Israel all over again. Not to mention, we’re always looking for awesome alumni bloggers.


  4. 4. Stay Connected

    It is helpful to have people in your life who shared experiences with you in Israel. You can not only reminisce with them about hikes and nights out, but they are also simultaneously experiencing the same emotions as you, and are the only ones who are able to understand how you’re feeling without words. People you met abroad will be some of your closest friends no matter where you all end up living. The best part about staying connected with people you met abroad is travelling to see them for reunions!


  5. 5.Seek new experiences

    Find hidden gems in your area, get excited and have yourself a little adventure. Being home doesn’t mean you have to go back to your same old routine: meet new people, explore your surroundings, and try new things. You’d be surprised to find out how many places you don’t know about.


  6. 6.Make a Schedule



    In America, one part of you will want to see everyone you haven’t seen in months, and the other part of you may want to stay in bed and look at pictures and videos from your time in Israel. Plan time in your schedule to reminisce, but also try to get back into your life at home by creating a schedule.


  7. 7.It’s okay to miss Israel

    Whatever you feel when you get back from a life changing experience is okay. It’s okay to cry, it’s okay to laugh, it’s okay to plan a trip back, but it is important to not let missing Israel consume you. When you miss it, let yourself acknowledge the amazing experience you just had and use that emotion to realize how much you learned. You miss it because of how much you loved the experience and you wouldn’t want it any other way.


  8. 8.Let yourself process

    Feel it. Dive in face first to everything your feeling. Embrace your emotions and give yourself permission to relax, absorb and really think about your time abroad. Be patient with yourself as you undergo the many different emotions and changes that come along with re-entry to America.


  9. 9.Rock your Israeli Look

    I Love TLV Tank

    Instead of trying to revert back to your old American fashion, wear your Naot in the summer, keep your new piercings with pomegranate studs, and rock your genie pants in the supermarket.


The Stories of the Fallen: Young Jews from Around the World Mark Yom Hazikron in Israel">The Stories of the Fallen: Young Jews from Around the World Mark Yom Hazikron in Israel

Posted May 10th, 2017

More than 4,000 students and young professionals from around the world came together this week in Israel for one of the country’s most somber holidays – Yom Hazikaron. Gathering just north of Tel Aviv in Ra’anana Park Amphitheater, they honored fallen soldiers and civilians during an annual commemoration organized by Masa Israel Journey, a project of The Jewish Agency for Israel and the government of Israel. Honored guests included representatives of those bodies, and also included representatives of Keren Hayesod - United Israel Appeal (UIA), and the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA).


Honored Guests

Honored guests and representatives pay their respects to Israel’s fallen soldiers during the Yom Hazikaron commemoration at the Ra’anana Park Amphitheater in Ra’anana, Israel, organized by Masa Israel Journey, The Jewish Agency for Israel, and the government of Israel. From left to right: Eliezer (Moodi) Sandberg, world chair, Keren Hayesod-UIA; David Koschitzky, chairman, Keren Hayesod-UIA World Board of Trustees; Dan Lahav, deputy director general, Department of Home Affairs, Planning and Development, accompanied by his wife; Tzachi Hanegbi, minister of regional cooperation and acting communications minister; Natan Sharansky, chairman of the executive for The Jewish Agency for Israel; Alan Hoffmann, director general, The Jewish Agency for Israel; Avital Elfant, educational project manager, Masa Israel Journey; Liran Avisar-Ben Horin, CEO, Masa Israel Journey; Aaron Abramovich, chairman of the board of directors of Masa Israel Journey; and Yossi Bachar, chairman of Israel Discount Bank, accompanied by his wife. Photo credit: Yishai Nazarov.


Many of the attendees are in Israel for long-term, immersive internship, gap year or volunteer programs through Masa Israel Journey, and this was the first time they participated in a national gathering in Israel of this scale and significance: it is the country’s largest English-language Yom Hazikaron ceremony, and with simultaneous translations into French, Spanish and Russian, it allowed Jews from around the world to absorb the full meaning of the holiday.


For the American participants, the occasion stands in stark contrast to Memorial Day traditions at home, beginning with the sound of sirens ringing across the country. Allie Donahoo, a San Diego native, shared that the Yom Hazikaron ceremony – and the transition to Yom Ha'atzmaut – was transformative. “It is one thing to learn about these holidays in religious school and to hear about it from the shlichim [Israeli emissaries] growing up,” commented Donahoo, who is currently participating in the Masa Israel Teaching Fellows program. “But to experience it first hand, to be in the heaviness of the day and then for it to switch from mourning to celebration, from tears to fireworks, is indescribable."


While the ceremony honored all 23,544 who have died defending the State of Israel since the start of the Zionist movement, it highlighted the personal stories of six individuals, whose family and friends spoke throughout the evening, recalling their late loved ones’ dedication to the army, to their comrades, and to preserving Israel’s history and its future.


Aaron Abramovich, chairman of the board of directors of Masa Israel Journey, noted in his address:


“Our mission at Masa Israel Journey is to give our participants – more than 12,000 young people every year who come to Israel to study, volunteer, develop careers, and develop as individuals – a deep and meaningful Israeli experience. Part of that ‘Israeli experience’ is connecting with what it takes to have our independent homeland – the heavy price so many families pay. And so, you are here with every part of Israeli society tonight to hear the personal stories, and our national story. It is our wish to bring you into the Israeli family, by sharing these stories. These individual stories are a source of inspiration – and so is the very fact of our togetherness here, people from around the world, remembering them."


Masa Israel Journey Board of Directors Chairman Aaron Abramovich

Aaron Abramovich, chairman of the board of directors of Masa Israel Journey, delivers remarks during the annual Yom Hazikaron commemoration organized by Masa Israel Journey, The Jewish Agency for Israel, and the government of Israel at the Ra’anana Park Amphitheater in Ra’anana, Israel. Over 4,000 students and young professionals from around the world attended the gathering on April 30, 2017, each of whom are participating in long-term, immersive Masa Israel Journey programs across the country. Photo credit: Yishai Nazarov.


Some family and friends of the fallen participated in the artistic segment of the evening, honoring the lives of their loved ones. Stories told included that of Sergeant Michael Levin, a lone solider who was killed during the Second Lebanon War at the age of 22 after making made aliyah from Pennsylvania. Following his death, Michael’s parents founded the Center for Lone Soldiers, which offers a place for soldiers to gather, strengthening their community and connecting them to Israeli society.


Sergeant Jordan Bensimon, who made aliyah from France as a teenager, was killed during Operation Protective Edge in 2014 at the age of 22. Thousands attended his funeral, and during the Yom Hazikaron ceremony, guests watched a video featuring Jordan’s friends and relatives, to learn more about his short but full life.


Sergeant Udi (Yehuda) Algarbali, who fell at the age of 22 while defending his soldiers in combat in Lebanon. Following his death in 1994, his parents founded the Netivei Udi Association, which leads activities that Udi himself once organized, such as hikes for the cadets in the Paratroopers Teleprocessing Corps, where he served.


Shlomtzion Landau-Halgua and Aviad Kitsberg

Shlomtzion (Shlomtzi) Landau-Halgua, member of the management committee of Gar’in Udi (Nahal post), and Aviad Kitsberg, graduate of Gar’in Udi, honor Sergeant Udi (Yehuda) Algarbali, who fell in combat, during the annual Yom Hazikaron commemoration organized by Masa Israel Journey, The Jewish Agency for Israel, and the government of Israel at the Ra’anana Park Amphitheater in Ra’anana, Israel. Over 4,000 students and young professionals from around the world attended the gathering on April 30, 2017, each of whom are participating in long-term, immersive Masa Israel Journey programs across the country. Photo credit: Yishai Nazarov.


Lance Corporal Hadar Cohen a police officer who was fatally shot just last year at the age of 19 at Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate, becoming the first border policewoman to be killed in action, was honored by her friend, Corporal Yahav Drori. Yahav described the community center in Or Yehuda, Hadar's home town, which was created in her memory, to inspire young people and serve as a model for their military service. Yahav will soon be a commander in the border police training’s recently renamed unit: the Hadar Company.


Sergeant Dimitri (Dima) Levitas, who loved sports, architecture, and music, was killed by sniper fire during Operation Protective Edge in 2014 at the age of 25. Gilad Appelstein, who handed his command over to Dima, recalled how he cared after his soldiers as if they were his own children – soldiers who continue to celebrate Dima at regular music performances that his family holds in his memory on the kibbutz where he grew up.


For many Masa Israel Journey participants in the audience, the story of Ezra Schwartz hit closest to home – a Masa participant himself, the Massachusetts native was studying at Yeshivat Ashreinu in Beit Shemesh when he was killed in a shooting attack while traveling to a volunteer program. A film clip screened during the ceremony showed what Ezra loved about his Masa program, Israel, and the Torah, before his life was taken at the age of 18.


Government officials and IDF representatives also made remarks, speaking to the participants about their obligation to uphold the memories of all those who have fallen. Speakers included Tzachi Hanegbi, minister of regional cooperation and acting communications minister; Natan Sharansky, chairman of the executive for The Jewish Agency for Israel; and David Koschitzky, chairman of Keren Hayesod-UIA World Board of Trustees, and the aforementioned Chairman Abramovich of Masa.


Natan Sharansky

Natan Sharansky, chairman of the executive for The Jewish Agency for Israel, delivers remarks during the annual Yom Hazikaron commemoration organized by Masa Israel Journey, The Jewish Agency for Israel, and the government of Israel at the Ra’anana Park Amphitheater in Ra’anana, Israel. Over 4,000 students and young professionals from around the world attended the gathering on April 30, 2017, each of whom are participating in long-term, immersive Masa Israel Journey programs across the country. Photo credit: Yishai Nazarov.


An evening that started with sounding of sirens and was filled with song and prayer ended with pensive silence, as the crowds filed quietly out of the amphitheater, carrying with them the stories of peers they would never know.


Alive: It's really not that dangerous here">Alive: It's really not that dangerous here

Posted May 9th, 2017
By Chloe Stuart-Ulin, participant of WUJS Intership program and Masa Influencer
On my first trip to the Carmel Market, weaving through the sweaty, loud, aggressive shoppers, bumping into the wobbly, wooden display tables so tightly packed I can’t make out the crumbling walls behind. The worst place for a terror attack, a bomb in the middle of this moving mass. My focus spreads thin to encompass everything around me, to pick up whatever hint might come before a blast. I know there’s nothing I can do to prepare for a close range explosion, but that doesn’t stop me noticing every shopper with a backpack.
A watery-eyed old man with leathery skin darts into my path, waving a neon “JEW 4 LIFE” t-shirt. It’s four sizes too small, obviously made for a child. He yells something in Hebrew, then stares at my breasts.
I catch myself scanning the roofs and balconies constantly. Three hipster millenials sit on a balcony over the spice shop. Tiny kites blow over the road from a rooftop to the right; an invisible kid laughing, tiny hands pulling their strings. A young woman sits on a stoop behind her stall, head covered, eyes closed, blowing cigarette smoke into the sky.
At my university in Canada, my mentor and journalism professor warned me about going to crowded places in Israel. She’d been here many times for stories, but almost always during wartime. She wrote an award-winning book about the conflict here, with dozens of interviews with locals from both sides. I remember some of her technical advice when I met with her in person: “Are you flying through Turkey?” I was. “Deactivate your Facebook, and don’t tell anyone you’re a journalist.” For Israel the advice was simple: “Don’t go to street fairs.” “Avoid crowded places.”
On my daily walk to work in Tel Aviv, I pass a revolving group of construction workers building the apartment complex next door. They don’t whistle as I pass or stop their steady hammering. A worker leans over a long iron beam with his welding stick and blasts the flare right there on the sidewalk. Sparks the size of snowflakes shoot across the road and fizz out on passing cars. I never see him wearing a face cover, nothing to keep the light from burning out his eyes. Every day I dodge the sparks and pretend it doesn’t bother me.
The Carmel Market crowds thin enough in the evening for me to relax, with shoppers disappearing into side streets and alleys. More stalls than I can count spiral out from the main square. I take a break from my wandering to buy a coffee and rest my feet. A young couple kisses passionately at a corner table nearby, the one drink between them still full and no longer steaming. The girl, maybe 17, wears a large-print t-shirt with some acronym I don’t recognize. The guy, a couple of years older, is dressed head to toe in the faded green canvas of an Israeli soldier. An AK-47 hangs loose off his shoulder, dangling limp with the tip hitting the metal leg of his chair. The couple stays glued to each other and nobody glances their way. 
I sit at the café for an hour sipping at my coffee, bumming their open wifi. When I leave a half hour later, the young couple hasn’t moved: in danger, always, and blissfully alive.

12 Must-See Works Of Israeli Street Art ">12 Must-See Works Of Israeli Street Art

Posted April 3rd, 2017

By Sydney Peters


Over the past few years I’ve had the pleasure of traveling throughout Europe, Asia and just the tiniest bit of Africa. I love wandering down side streets and finding out all a city has to offer, even if it’s staring at a masterpiece on a brick wall. Sometimes it's just one graffitied word and other times it’s a whole building that has been transformed into a piece of art.


For these reasons, Berlin was my all-time favorite city for street art. That is, until I moved to Israel to teach English in Be’er Sheva on Masa Israel Teaching Fellows. Here in this gorgeous land that boasts a huge art scene, you can’t walk down a street without finding at least one speckled and worded up work of art plastered on the side of a building.


Israeli street art has a voice of its own. There are some pieces that have been up for decades because the government has found them to be that important. There are other areas where pieces may last only a few hours before someone has something else to say. After all, our people are known for being opinionated. So, enough with the text and on to the beauty of Israeli street art.


Here are a few of my favorites:


12. My parents came to visit recently and while we were walking through the vibrant streets of Tel Aviv I came across this tag. One of my favorite things to do when I visit a new city is to grab a map, orient myself and wander in any direction. I always know I can pull my map out and become ‘unlost,’ but there is no better way to get to know a city than to get lost.



11. This fall, after a hectic first week of settling into our new city of Be’er Sheva, one of our first group activities was a scavenger hunt of the old city (yep, Be’er Sheva has one, too). As we walked by this piece, everyone immediately whipped out their phones, firing up Snapchat to share it with everyone back home. This piece is a friendly reminder of how much I’ve grown since the beginning of September and how much of a home Be’er Sheva has become.



10. One weekend I visited some Masa friends in Netanya and I was totally shocked when I was greeted by large murals like this one. Until then, Netanya didn’t strike me as the artsiest community, but now I’m counting down the days until I can visit again. This piece was such a wave of nostalgia; I always dreamed riding the Magic School Bus as a kid. And, let’s be honest, who didn’t want Miss Frizzle as their teacher?



9. This unique piece of multi-media street art can be found in Tel Aviv’s Florentin neighborhood. The frames are actually made out of wood, there are googly eyes on the bench, and stickers throughout. It adds a whole new level of dimension to the piece and keeps your eyes constantly wandering. I spent at least a half an hour at this wall, photographing it from every angle.



8. Do you know who all of these musicians are and why they’re memorialized here in Florentin? Amy Winehouse, Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain, to name a few. They’re all members of the 27 club, meaning they all died when they were the age of 27. You may be asking, who is the man on the far right? It’s believed to be the artist, Jonathan Kislev. According to my guide, there is some argument as to whether or not the pink paint over Kislev’s fast was done by Kislev himself or another artist. One rumor is that Kislev was so disappointed in all that he hadn’t accomplished by the age of 27, that he included paint to cover his face.



7. Ever since street art angel wings starting dominating my Instagram, I’ve been on the hunt for them. I even saw a post claiming that there was a set in Florentin, so I spent over an hour searching for them with no luck. However, did I get lucky when a friend in Netanya sent me a picture of these and they did not disappoint.



6. One of the things I find so fascinating about street art is how it’s constantly changing. This alleyway in Florentin, is one of the very places where you can see a piece one day and the next day it’s covered with something new. I could walk around this alley staring at the different tags for hours.



5. Technology has become such a permanent part of our lives in so many ways. I’ve seen this piece throughout Tel Aviv, but this photo was taken near Shuk HaCarmel. I think it’s a good reminder to put our phones down for a moment and appreciate everything that is around us. I mean, if you have your nose in your phone, would you even see this when walking by?



4. I decided not to save the world today.” Haven’t we all thought this? These are so many pressures in our lives, sometimes it’s just nice to not think about one. I also really love the typography on this piece, which I found meandering down the many streets of Florentin.



3. One of my favorite sayings is “I’m just one wanderlusting soul in this big, bad world.” If I asked someone to create a representation of that, this piece in Netanya would be a great pick.



2. Outside of Machane Yehuda, I haven’t seen a lot of street art in Jerusalem. While my parents were in town, we wandered down a side street and came across a lovely spread of street art. This tree of life was one of my favorites. I bought myself a tree of life ring during first solo trip to Europe in 2014, and I’ve found myself drawn to the symbol ever since.



1. It’s quite common to find the word ‘Coexist’ spray painted on walls near Tel Aviv’s Shuk HaCarmel. To me it represents the diversity and acceptance of Tel Aviv itself – a city, packed with tourists from every corner of the world and known for its vibrant the LGBTQ community. Here’s a pic of a spray painted ‘Coexist’ on RamBam Street.








Sydney Peterson is a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow in Be'er Sheva, where she serves as an English teaching assistant in a local elementary school. Outside the classroom, she seizes every opportunity for adventure in Israel and around the world. She loves searching for street art, immersing herself in new cultures and eating her way through new cities.






Originally appeared in the Forward