Q: What is your full name, where you are from, University in the states and Program here?

Shayna Han, Mamaroneck, New York, graduated from Union College in Schenectady, New York, in 2015, MITF-Ashdod

Q: Why Israel? 

I visited Israel twice – five years ago on Birthright, and ten years ago with my congregation. I wanted more than just a vacation with Israel: I wanted to have an intimate relationship with Israel, with my extended Jewish family, with the land and language and culture. It’s easy to fall in love with a place while on vacation. The act of loving takes knowing and understanding flaws and scars. I wanted to put my love for Israel to the test. 

Q: What was your favorite moment this far in your journey?

My Israel volunteering organization, Project Kesher Israel (PKI), empowers Russian immigrant women through education; through them, I met Zionist feminist activist inspiration Dr. Alice Shalvi, prayed with Women of the Wall during Purim, and got to know leaders of Israel’s vibrant feminist community. They are an inspirational community who are working to make Israel and Judaism more pluralistic and egalitarian. I also have to say my road trip during Pesach with a new friend was unforgettable: experiencing Israel by car is enchanting. Everyone should take an Israeli road trip!

Q: What was your program like, what made it different from life in the USA?

My students are energetic, sweet, and vivacious — I love working with them each day. The program has presented a myriad of opportunities and challenges I’ve strived to excel at; I am not the same woman I was when I arrived. The USA is my home; my heart’s compass orients toward New York. I might leave Israel, but I will always carry this entire experience with me: kindness, community, authenticity, vulnerability, compassion.

Q: How do you think teaching in Israel has helped you on your journey to a meaningful career and future?

To know where you’re going, you need to know where you’ve been, too. I traveled to Israel to find the woman I want to become, to change myself, to challenge myself. I believe teaching is a wonderful profession because it imparts a flexible, dynamic, and diverse skill set. This experience with my personal story and skills as well as in international travel will be something I value all my life. My parents went directly to graduate school upon their college graduations; my generation has greater opportunity to find their passions and turn them into careers.

Q: Any advice for incoming Masa Israel Teaching Fellows?

Be fearless. Never compromise who you are. Throw your entire soul into Israel. If something isn’t going your way, be Israeli about it and challenge it! And always read the fine print (sorry, I grew up with attorneys).

Internship Wishlist
Your Internship Wishlist
Apply To Your Top 5 Internships All At Once
Don't Leave Yet - Your Journey to Israel is Right Around the Corner!
Dreaming of exploring Israel? Just let us know what type of experience you're looking for and we'll connect you with the perfect program.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Skip to content