Jordan Hytken | Masa Israel

Jordan Hytken
participant year: 
I can recall the moment I made the decision to make a substantial contribution to Israel. It was night eight of a Taglit trip that my mother had to drag me by the ear to the LAX airport to attend. I was sitting in the Negev desert discussing Israeli Issues with a commander in the IDF’s Paratrooper unit with a group of ten other “Tagliters”. A lightbulb lit up in my head. I had instantly figured it out. There was something special about actually being there and discussing real current issues with elite members of the IDF that ultimately made me aware that I could play a positive role in helping sculpt the future of Israel. At that moment I understood that the future of Israel was not just the responsibility of Israelis. Jews from the Diaspora have an inherent responsibility to contribute to Israel as well.
Being part of the IGF program not only provides you with firsthand experience of serving Israel within a handpicked position of the Israeli government. In addition, the Israel Government Fellows Program provides you with the foundation of a lifelong relationship with Israel, not just as a tourist, but as an insider. The contributions that the IGF alumni will provide Israel in the future are limitless, from both fellows who stay in Israel and fellows who return to the Diaspora.
I understood heading into the IGF program that my life was about to change. As to the extent of change I was unsure. I knew that I was going to be participating in global issues that would provide me with an enlightened perspective on the realities of the current situation in the Middle East in addition to giving me a firm leg to stand on when defending Israel’s policies to people in the future. With a lot of time and effort from the IGF staff and Israeli Government Officials I found myself working within the Israeli Foreign Ministry in the Department of Media and Public Affairs. My team consisted of amazing people, all of whom I still keep in contact with, and my experience was unforgettable.
From day one my work consisted of projects I could have only dreamed to be a part of a few months before. I managed projects branding the country of Israel to certain international communities. I played a very important role in meeting with foreign delegations on multiple occasions. I specialized in working on a variety of different projects regarding Israel’s foreign policies. In Israel there is no concept of an internship, especially within high levels of the government. Therefore when an opportunity presents itself to an Israeli Government Official to have a well educated member from the IGF program work within their departments you can be assured they will utilize the opportunity. If you prove to them you can handle it, you will find yourself exceeding your greatest expectations.
In addition to working hard for the Israeli Government, the IGF staff makes sure you enjoy your time in Israel. I am still overwhelmed with all the international leaders that I met while attending conferences around Israel and at the Menachem Begin Center in Jerusalem. The seven tiyulim around the country and the lifelong friendships you will develop alone make the program worthwhile. I am truly honored, humbled, and forever grateful for being given the opportunity of becoming an Israeli Government Fellow. For me Israel is hardly just an ideology that I learned as a Jewish boy in Sunday school. Now thanks to everybody affiliated with the IGF program and the through the endorsement of the Office of the Prime Minster, Israel is my second home and will forever be a major part of who I am as an individual.