For Michael and Leah, it was love at second sight. Leah was first introduced to Michael five years ago in a hotel in Jerusalem, at a Masa Leadership Summit. She is from Russia and Michael is from Uzbekistan. After the summit, they went their separate ways—Leah returned to Ariel University, and Michael to the Technion.

But clearly, their story doesn’t end there. Fast forward three years. Michael and Leah both still lived in Israel. Mutual friends convinced them to attend the Communitreat for Masa alumni—together. It is there where they rediscovered each other, and that initial friendly conversation blossomed into something much deeper.

Today, Michael and Leah live together in Tel Aviv. Leah used the pandemic as an opportunity for a career pivot from medical tourism to makeup. Michael is a software engineer, working for a startup called Oriient.

Michael and Leah still attend Masa events together. Besides for the nostalgia factor—they like remembering how they met, and then met again—and enjoy the opportunity to socialize. Masa’s events always have a great atmosphere, a great program, and great people, they recount.

Together, they have survived a pandemic and an operation. While lockdown was challenging—with both missing their friends and loved ones and being able to travel—they always had each other. During the rocket attacks, when sirens wailed over Israel, Leah and Michael were out and had just attended a party with strangers they had met when they suddenly had to take cover in Yarkon Park in Tel Aviv. They quickly found safe cover together and this unique experience has deepened their bond and connection. Michael and Leah shared how they are so grateful to Masa for bringing them to Israel and helping them find each other, where they live together in this wonderful country, they now call home.

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