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4 Ways to Portray Your Israeli Internship in an Interview

An internship in Israel means being thrown to the wolves, in the most beneficial way. You didn’t spend your internship grabbing Starbucks for a stuffy CEO sitting in a 20th-floor office; you spent your internship conducting market research to launch the latest biomedical device to save lives. You were treated more as an equal rather than an intern.

The question is now, how do you communicate your Israel experience to potential employers when you’re back stateside? They may have a slew of questions for you that range from:

“Why did you choose Israel?”

“Weren’t you scared of being in the Middle East?”


Be sure your internship in Israel lands you your dream job and excels your career above and beyond.


Follow our guidelines for portraying your Israeli internship effectively in interviews:


1. Be sure to communicate you were more than an intern. Explain to the interviewer that there is no such thing as interns in Israel and when you showed up for your first day of work (whether you’re at a non-profit, startup, or research company) you were treated like a real employee. In Israel, interns get in on the ground floor.




You were given projects that you were solely responsible for finding the solutions for.


You were part of the team and that your feedback on projects and strategies was valued.


If your mistake cost the company money or negativity in any way you owned it and also fixed it.


Your days were spent completing tasks that would determine the company’s future outcomes.


2. Describe, in the depth the Israeli work ethic, which you are now obsessed with. Show your boss that the new Sabra attitude you’ve acquired will be an asset to their team.



Explain to him that the Israeli mentality of working 10-12 hour days is your new normal, and you’re prepared to stay until the project is completed.


Touch on the fact the startup scene in Israel (and almost any company in Israel) has an organizational structure of chaos – but in some crazy way it works. From working in this environment of utter chaos, you know how to manage yourself and set personal goals in any atmosphere to be the most productive.
3. After spending a significant amount of time in Israel you’ve noticed Americans are almost too polite, and you’d rather stick with the “Israeliness” of being direct.


Explain to your potential employer that being in an environment where nothing is ever sugar-coated has heightened your self-confidence and you aren’t scared to share ideas, speak up and voice your opinion.



4. In Israel, the terms “impossible” and “it can’t be done” simply don’t exist.


A great aspect you’ve gained while being in Israel is that you’ve mastered the art of hacking. Going back to point number one, you were never treated as an intern, you were given real projects from day one and figured everything out on your own even if you had no idea what you were doing.


Describe the awesome projects and outcomes you had while interning in Israel – you’ll knock the socks off your interviewers.



Now let’s get into the trickier side of interview questions, like “why would you intern in Israel.”


First, start by explaining that it’s unbelievable for a country that is only 68-years-old to be as advanced in business, technology, healthcare and agriculture as they are. Not to mention that Israel has to be one of the most diverse countries since people from Africa, South America, Europe, Australia and even Asia call it home.


Next, you could point out that the cell phone which you’ve been emailing the potential boss on was invented in Israel, along with the 4G he’s so in love with and the voicemail service the company is currently using is also a product of Israel.


Besides all of this, there’s no better place to dive face first into innovation than the country who built the Startup Nation in a little less than 15 years. Plus, that cherry tomato this guy always gets on his salad, that’s an Israeli invention too.


As I said before, your internship in Israel should take your career above and beyond. Don’t let it go to waste and be sure to highlight the fact you spent time in the land that’s not only flowing with milk and honey but innovation too.


Looking for more specifics on how to portray your Israel experience? Check out our points below:

1. Scenario: You work at an organization that aids African refugees and helps newcomers to Israel find the support they need.


Resume Line: Coordinated projects for international NGO to aid absorption of refugees from Darfur, Eritrea, and Ethiopia.


2. Scenario: You volunteered in low-income immigrant neighborhoods and organized youth group activities.


Resume Line: Coordinate youth groups for 60 at-risk teens in Petach Tikqva to promote healthy relationships and community building.


3. Scenario: You spend four hours each day for the first month of your internship program in an intensive Hebrew course.  Five months later, you’re a pro at ordering in restaurants, bargaining in the market, and chatting with the cab drivers.
Resume line: Developed near-fluency in spoken Hebrew within five months, proficient in reading and writing.


4. Scenario: You interned for a start-up and helped with their marketing efforts in launching their newest product.


Resume Line: Created and implemented a social media strategy across multiple platforms to launch XXX’s latest app. Through the product launch, the startup successfully secured venture capital.


5. Scenario: You spent five months interning at Google in the software engineering department


Resume Line: Researched, conceived and developed five software applications to extend and improve on Google’s product offering.


6. Scenario: You spent five months creating blogs and editing photos and videos for an Israeli news site.


Resume Line: One Line Content Associate who wrote daily blogs and edited photos and videos to deliver quality news content to English-speakers in Israel and throughout the world.


7. Scenario: You devoured the internet for information about your employer’s future sales processes.


Resume Line: Identified quality leads and prospects through the company database and conducted independent research and network analysis of competitors.

Written by Andria Kaplan-Aylyarov

Andria is a Masa Israel Alumna and content marketing specialist for Masa Israel Journey. She loves a good glass of white wine and wishes she was 85-years-old and living in Boca, but she currently resides in New York.


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Career Israel: Daniel Vapne Profile

Career Israel participant Daniel Vapne gave us an insight on his Masa Israel Journey and how it helped him grow professionally. After getting his B.A in Exercise Science from Kennesaw State University, Daniel decided to take an internship with Medix, a private physical therapy clinic in Israel.

During his internship, he was able to apply his knowledge as well as skills from his college experience. His personal struggle and understanding of taking initiative makes him stand out as an exemplary leader of his community. He developed a passion for helping people.  Israel’s diverse population requires more than the typical Hebrew skills but the understanding of different cultures and languages as well. His commitment to gaining knowledge helped him bridge that gap.

Daniel gained more than just experience; he developed a plan to give back to people back home and Israel. We asked him some questions about his journey and how it shaped his Jewish identity as well as leadership skills.

How did you end up on a Masa Israel program?

I did Taglit Birthright in December of 2013. A Masa Israel rep came on the bus one day and said, “if you liked Taglit, there’s a longer term program you can do.” They explained that you can choose what you want to do and that there are many options.

I was very touched by the whole Israel experience, so as soon as I got home I did my research. I saw all of my options and thought it would be great to go back and work in Israel. It seemed like I’d get a more hands on experience than I would in the U.S.

I couldn’t treat patients in the U.S. like I did in Israel. In Israel, I did whatever the physical therapists told me to do. In the U.S., I would’ve just been an aid.

In Israel, I was able to use my critical thinking, create treatment plans and facilitate them for my patients. I worked in a multi-lingual environment, speaking English, Hebrew, and Russian.

I think the patients trusted me more. In the U.S., if you don’t have Doctoral degree in Physical Therapy, patients won’t take you seriously.

In Israel, your bosses give you as much opportunity as you want. It’s up to you to prove to them that you’re capable and able to do the job. I’m treated more as an equal than as a tool. It was there where I was able to get the experience that helped me in grad school. There I was exposed to more and actually worked with patients. Now I know how to approach the American population, but also those from other countries. I’ve learned how important the patient relationship is.

You said you treat patients in English, Hebrew and Russian. How are you able to do this?

Before I went on the program, I knew very minimal Hebrew. But after two weeks of ulpan and learning every day at work, on the bus to work and struggling to learn the language, I’m able to actually treat patients in three languages.

My Hebrew was pretty minimal, but I was able to communicate with patients and give them directions on exercises and their treatment. In a month-and-a-half of work I was able to actually do it already.

And where did you learn Russian?

I grew up speaking Russian at home, and I’m really lucky that I’m able to use those skills and talents in Israel. It’s not common in the U.S., at least in my experience, for my Russian to be so useful.

Did you have any experience working in PT before you came to Israel?

I worked at a few different clinics before. During and after college, I helped out in the sports medicine department at my college, working alongside trainers and sports doctors that treated student athletes, on both rehabilitation and injury prevention

I also worked at PT solutions, a physical therapy chain back home. I was an aid there and worked with great young physical therapists who were just a year or two out of grad school. They coached me through the grad school application process.

I mostly just observed what they did and asked as many questions as possible, but I utilized the knowledge I gained from working there in Israel.

I also volunteered at the local Jewish Home, where my grandma lives, and the hospital nearby with in-patient rehabilitation unit. I met a lot of great professionals there that actually motivated me to pursue this path even more.

So, did you defer grad school for a year to come here?

No. Before I went to Israel, I started the application process and I just got my first interview at NYU . I also got my first rejection letter four hours before that, so it was a nice surprise.

What was your involvement in the Jewish community, or Jewish life – if any – growing up?

I had mild involvement in Hillel on my college campus. There weren’t many Jews at my college. I also went to young professional events, and went to events at my synagogue.

I went to a modern orthodox Jewish high school and really found my Jewish identity there. I played basketball there and really felt like part of the community. Even though I was very secular, they really accepted me.

(As I said, I was really secular, so I learned a lot of traditions and values there. My parents are beginning to become more observant. They started keeping a kosher kitchen and my mom isn’t working on Shabbat anymore – she runs her own business teaching piano lessons, so it’s kind of a big step for her. My dad still wants to be secular and we’re fine this way. We have a nice Jewish balance at home and it’s nice to have Shabbat and stay at home together.)- *not sure if to keep this?

You say you grew up secular, how did you end up in a modern orthodox high school?

I got a scholarship for basketball and academics – I was really good at math and the school liked giving scholarships to kids in the community, even if they weren’t religious.

Does your connection to Israel also come from your high school experience?

I had a slight involvement in NCSY, but I’d say my Jewish involvement really increased after Taglit Birthright. I wanted to be more involved in the community. I do have some family in Israel, but really, this is my homeland. I feel more connected to Israel sometimes than the U.S.

What’s it like living here?

It’s great because every day I got to use my Hebrew and even if I couldn’t get my ideas across, everyone knew English and helped me out. I also got to live in the city, I’ve never really lived ‘in the city’ before, so that was great. I’m lived with five other people, around my age, in the center of Tel Aviv!

And how’s Career Israel treating you?

Career Israel was great and my madrichim (counselors/residential advisors) was great. I don’t know if you know Itzik, but he’s the best. He tried to help my girlfriend find a job in the U.S. so we can continue the romance after the program (she’s Canadian).

I’ve also learned a lot about myself and what I can give back to the community, as well as what the community can give me.  I’ve made tons of new connections. That’s one of the reasons I loved Birthright. Being in a college that didn’t have much of a Jewish life – it’s what I felt like it was lacking. I was in a fraternity, I was in Hillel, I was involved in academic clubs, but I felt different. I was still a leader of all of these clubs and student groups, but I couldn’t relate to people on a deeper level.

When I told people I was coming to Israel, all of my professors told me to be careful. They didn’t understand that I feel safer in Israel than in the U.S. or in Atlanta. I feel more with my people here.


What do you think of the Leadership Summit so far?

So far it’s great, I have a great group – I mean they’re not too bad (looking back at friends sitting behind us)

It’s really thought provoking and relates to something I’m personally working on. I have the tendency of not asking questions and just taking control. I’m trying to be more of a facilitator and understanding people’s perspectives. For one thing, not trying to control the conversation all the time and trying to see where they’re coming from and accept it. It’s something I was really lacking before as a student leader on campus. It made it hard for people to work with me. I’m trying to learn how to be a more adaptive leader and how to adapt to the group. You know, get a sense of personalities in the group and figure out my own role, instead of asserting myself and claiming a role first.

Something I also learned, especially from the speaker the other night, is to adapt to your audience – the people who you’re with, your coworkers. Not everything is set in stone. Things are done differently, for example here than in the U.S. So I’m trying to find a role – it doesn’t have to be big – to try to make the group dynamic work.

How do you plan to stay involved in the Jewish community when you go back to the U.S.?

I did get a letter from the Atlanta Jewish community – the Jamie A. Tritt Family Foundation Volunteers an Action Leadership program from the Jewish Family and Career Services for the Young Adults Division of this organization to run events.

It’s very hard to tell what my involvement will be because I hope I won’t be in Atlanta for too long when I get home. I’ve always been close to the JCC there. It’s where I worked out and played basketball. It’s where my first job was; at the concession stand and then as a lifeguard. It helped me find my interests, professionally, in aquatic therapy and orthopedic therapy. That’s where it all started.

My long term goal is to open up physical therapy clinics in the U.S. and open one that’s more nonprofit in Israel, somewhere where people need access to that kind of care.

I’ve noticed here that the best care comes from private companies. There is public physical therapy but when I ask patients, they say the care isn’t here. I know it’s hard to have a clinic here; that’s why I want the capital to come from running clinics in the U.S. to open something here. I want to give back to the State of Israel in my own way, but it’s not easy. That’s one of the sad things about Israel: there is a struggle here for people to take risks and in order to take those risks and be successful you have to have the large amount of capital.

That’s what I want to give back to Israel – my knowledge of medicine – to help those going through something traumatic – get back to the way of life that they want.

Is there anything else you want me to know about you or your Masa Israel experience?

Growing up I had a communication disorder – I guess that’s what you call you it – I stuttered. Ever since I was in junior high I tried to put myself out there to overcome it so I could become a leader. I’ve always looked up to leaders – activists, politicians, etc. I worked really hard to overcome it. It still comes up when I’m really nervous like in job interviews and stuff.

Because of it, I’m always taking a strong role and working harder than the person next to me, putting in hours of preparation. This is what sort of made me a leader. This attribute that I thought I was lacking – I wanted to be able to be out spoken and be able to be a leader and inspire people to get out there and take action. It’s very important to me because growing up you get ridiculed for that. Now that I’m older I try to be eloquent and stand up for the people who can’t’ speak for themselves. So, that’s something that’s always been something close to my heart and every chance I get I try to work on it.

For example, the first day of the conference I volunteered to speak in front of 250 plus people. I try to get over that fear – it’s there for you to overcome it and it’s just another thing I’ve had to face in my life.

Also, and more related to the community thing, I tried getting extra scholarship from the Atlanta Jewish Federation, because I’d heard that some Federations do that, but they don’t give it. I found it very strange since it’s an affluent community. That’s something I’m trying to make happen because so many young people in Atlanta leave the community, but if they contribute more to this, these people will come back to Atlanta and give back to the community.

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Baltimore Jewish Times: From Crofton to Clinton

Joel Wanger cites his Jewish faith as a factor in becoming politically active

By Daniel Schere

It was the deep-seated Jewish values of social justice that spurred Crofton, Md., native Joel Wanger to become involved in politics. Wanger “fell in love” with the campaign lifestyle while in college at Northeastern University in Boston, he said, prompting him to apply for the Israel Government Fellows program that is run by Masa Israel.

alt="Joel Wanger with HRC staff and Hillary Clinton"Joel Wanger (right) says working for progressive candidates such as Hillary Clinton is an important way to “live” his Judaism. (Provided)

“The thing that stuck with me the most about that experience was what it means to be an American Jew versus a Jew from anywhere else in the world,” he said.

Wanger’s fellowship involved work with the Israeli Presidential Conference, including assisting different speakers with position papers.

“The theme of the conference was ‘Tomorrow,’ and it was all about the tomorrow of the world, the tomorrow of the people and the tomorrow of Israel,” he said.

“I was really able to see some of the differences and the starkness between being an American Jew and a Russian Jew, a Spanish Jew and seeing what those opportunities are.”

Wanger said his passion for tikkun olam started well before this point. He became familiar with social justice work through attending Camp Harlem in Pennsylvania as a child through his teen years as well as his involvement with his synagogue youth group in Bowie, Md.

After finishing the fellowship program in 2012, Wanger spent the next few months figuring out what he wanted to do next. It was during an interview with progressive organization Democratic GAIN that he was asked if he would be interested in submitting his resume to President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign. He accepted and was placed in Las Vegas as a field organizer.

Wanger said that as soon as the 2012 election ended he began anticipating former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s launch for a 2016 presidential bid, and when she made her campaign announcement last year, he wasted no time in getting involved.

“I actually arrived in Nevada on April 13, 2015, which was the day that she announced, and one of the opportunities that I wanted to pursue in getting out here that early was that Las Vegas really does have a large Jewish community,” he said. “As Jewish Americans, we share values with Clinton. Her fights are our fights, and it’s not just about donating money, it’s about our shared values and getting involved in the campaign in a more concrete way.”

Wanger, 27, said several other millennials have become involved with the Clinton campaign in Nevada, thanks to the use of Twitter as a recruitment tool. He said social media has been a much greater force in this campaign than it was while he was working for the Ohio Democratic Party in 2014. People his age who support Clinton do so because she has been a “fighter” for the middle class, he said, which is a quality that is personal to him.

“As a millennial, whether it’s women’s reproductive health or raising the minimum wage, these are all issues that I care about,” he said. “Not just as a citizen, but as somebody who was in college during the financial crisis and saw the job market go down. These are things that are important to me.”

Wanger drew a sharp distinction between the proposal of Clinton to make college debt free and that of the tuition-free concept put forth by Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). “The new college compact that Hillary Clinton has proposed really focuses on the idea of making sure you can graduate college debt free,” he said. “Because while it would be amazing to have everyone go to college for free, I agree with Clinton when she says Donald Trump’s children probably don’t need to go to college for free.”

Wanger said he feels “confident” that Clinton will emerge victorious in the Nevada caucus on Feb. 20. Much of his work in the campaign has focused on organizing the group Jewish Americans for Hillary, which he launched in August. This involves identifying “captains” at the different synagogues in Las Vegas and organizing house parties as a means of engaging people from across all age groups. Wanger said he feels this is the role he sees for himself when it comes to giving back.

“I could live my Judaism not by making aliyah or by being kosher or being shomer Shabbos,” he said, “but by working in progressive politics for candidates like President Barack Obama, like Hillary Clinton, who are fighting to make the world a better place, who are fighting to repair the world.” JT

Originally published in the Baltimore Jewish Times.

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Carol Kaplan: One Girl, One Desert, One Journey

Carol Kaplan, Permaculture Design Course Certificate at Kibbutz Lotan and the Shvil Israel with Walk About Love, Alumna ‘12


After spending a semester in Israel a few years ago, I have made the choice to attain my MA in Conflict Resolution and Coexistence under the Heller School of Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University.


Want to know how I got figured this all out? Check out my story or more of a journey below:


It all began at Kibbutz Maagan Michael, where I was fortunate enough to have a great taste of Kibbutz life… on the beach! My new life in Israel was simple; as a group, or newly founded family  we walked to the dining hall, אוכל חדר in Hebrew (pronounced hadar ohel) barefoot, enjoyed a heavy Israeli breakfast of cheeses, fresh salads, and warm bread, then rode bikes to Ulpan and later began to our separate work assignments.


Being the animal lover I am, I quickly requested to work in the cow shed, רֶפֶת in Hebrew (pronounced refet) and fell in love with newborn baby calves on my first day at work.


After herding the cows, I rode my bike to the sea, ים in Hebrew (pronounced yam), where the expert Kibbutzim surfers showed off their mad surf skills to us newbies. There, my thoughts dwelled on the simplicity of life in a small but beautiful Israeli community.


Upon completing Ulpan, I then traveled to Kibbutz Lotan, leaving behind the beach and transitioning to the beauty of the silent desert. It was here that I would begin my studies to obtain my Permaculture Design Course Certificate that I hoped to translate into my degree back at the University of Washington.


While living in a mud geodesic dome, I learned about sustainability and the possibility of not only growing organic food in the desert, but thriving in the desert sun. Of course, my favorite time of the week was harvest day, when my group and I would make full meals out of fresh vegetables we had just harvested. There’s nothing quite comparable to harvesting and cooking together after a long day’s work building mud structures!


After my time at Kibbutz Lotan, I then joined a group called Walk About Love, traveling, living and sleeping the Negev, all the way from Eilat to Jerusalem. It was myself and people from Germany, Spain, Sweden, the Americas and Israelis all coming together. Like our forefathers before us, we used rocks as a pillow, stared at the hot hot sun and cried with happiness upon reaching Jerusalem.


It was at the end of my journey, after such a diverse experience throughout the country, that I realized Israel and I are inextricably tied. It was not just a country I was exploring; it was MY country I was exploring, not out of curiosity but out of devotion.


For how could I help a country I had not touched with my own hands, walked with my own feet and viewed with my own eyes? I now feel truly ready and capable to learn about the creation of peace in a country so disheveled but at the same time vibrant and humane, which takes me back to the beginning of all of this and what’s landed me at Brandeis years later to get my MA in Conflict Resolution and Coexistence.


These last few years have been an amazing time of my life and without Israel I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am.



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C&G News: WB native teaches, and learns, in Israel

By Mike Koury

alt="becca garfinkel yahel israel lod"

Becca Garfinkel, seen here standing before the Baha’i Gardens in Haifa, Israel, will spend another six months abroad teaching students English.

WEST BLOOMFIELD — Becca Garfinkel always wanted to be able to travel around the world.

Now, as part of a volunteer program, she gets to do that and help many young people in the city of Lod, Israel.

Garfinkel is in Lod as part of Masa Israel’s Yahel Social Change Program, which is a nine-month program that is part learning experience, part volunteer effort.

Through the program, Garfinkel has been teaching third- to eighth-graders English. Her students include Israelis, Russian immigrants, Ethiopian immigrants and more. She volunteers about 25 hours a week at a local school called G’nei Aviv, as well as helping community organizations.

Read the rest of Becca’s story in C&G News!

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How to Reach Ivy League Levels of Tech Innovation

By Oren Toledano, co-founder and CEO of Israel Tech Challenge

We’re called the “startup nation.”

Despite being smaller than the state of New Jersey, Israel has more Nasdaq-listed companies than any other country in the world except the U.S. and China. Our businesses are quick to grow and to create. They are built on a mentality eager to take risks.

20161223_Oren ITC Blog_Nasdaq_2

Wikimedia Commons

But, what is the secret sauce behind Israel’s success? What magic touch do we have that universities around the world are now acknowledging is highly effective and desirable?

This is a question others have asked before – most notably Dan Senor and Saul Singer in their best-selling book. One answer they give: it starts in the military. More specifically, in the unique training program for the young recruits of 8200, Israel’s elite military unit where thousands of bright, technically minded soldiers study deeply and master cutting-edge technology. Having served in that unit, reaching the rank of Major, I’d like to go into this a bit more.

Over the last three years alone, several start-ups founded by 8200 graduates were purchased by tech giants, including Adallom (purchased by Microsoft), Onavo (purchased by Facebook), and CyActive (purchased by PayPal).

In 8200, the idea of “being thrown into the deep end” is taken to a completely new level.
The soldiers are expected to learn new skills super-fast and solve complex military problems with limited personnel, in a short time and with surprisingly little guidance. It is a quick, hands-on, intense learning process that leads straight to success.

During their training, the average day begins at 6 a.m., soldiers get exactly five minutes in the morning to wake up and dress themselves – and they get another 10 minutes, on the clock, for breakfast. The rest of their day is just as intense, as well as intellectually challenging and rigorously scheduled – an exhaustingly high-level program of study that generally continues at full force until 11 each night.

If you can keep up with the demands of this program for its full five months, you come out on the other end as a tech master at the age of 18, and with more technical know-how than an average American college graduate with a degree in Computer Science.

And it works particularly well. The unit’s alumni come away with the skills and mentality that are a natural fit for the start-up ecosystem.

The thinking and training of 8200 can be applied anywhere around the globe.

At Israel Tech Challenge, for example, we teach an international group of students about cybersecurity and data science. Working in closed cohort groups, with intensive training and close mentorship, and given the keys to a strong professional network, the students flourish. The method we use creates open-minded, autodidactic, independent thinkers who can even come up with solutions before the definition or emergence of the actual problem.

20161223_Oren ITC Blog_ITC

Israel Tech Challenge

It is an approach that can help all of us, as an international community, react quickly, adapt to the needs of the market, and create in-demand applications.

Today, American universities have started to recognize the need for educational models spearheaded by 8200-like tech boot camps and crash courses in coding. However, this is just a single application of the kind of new thinking brought to the forefront by the 8200. Israel’s experience can and should be leveraged to jumpstart not only the adoption of a new pedagogical system, but also as a groundbreaking model of international problem solving.

By adopting 8200’s intense, focused, and uncompromising training methods, American companies and organizations can create a workforce that is better prepared, more disciplined, and capable of overcoming technological gaps quickly, adapting in an agile fashion to changing realities, and learning, without judgment, but with great depth, from past mistakes. And they could do this faster, with fewer resources, attracting only the most talented and challenge-ready employees.

Applied effectively, the potential is here for a powerful tool that can shift the way we approach some of the larger issues facing the international community, throwing the most motivated, mentally resilient, and brightest human resources at the problem, while making better use of other resources, like money and time. In other words, we could attack real world problems by engaging technology, and its best practitioners, to help solve national priority issues.

Not only could this model prove lucrative and economical, it could be a game changer in terms of results – tech products for a safer planet chief among them.

Oren Toledano is co-founder and CEO of Israel Tech Challenge, a partnership between the Jewish Agency, The Government of Israel’s Cyber Bureau, and Masa Israel Journey. Prior to his current position, Oren spent three years as Head of the Aliyah delegation of the Jewish Agency in France-Belgium, and before that served for nearly a decade as an officer in an elite technological unit of the IDF, reaching the rank of Major. Oren holds an MA in Political Science and Security Studies from Tel Aviv University, and a BA in Political Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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Jewish Insider: Daily Kickoff

SCENE YESTERDAY IN NYC — Masa Israel Journey hosted a panel yesterday featuring representatives from Israeli start-ups with a presence in New York, including WeWork and Playbuzz.

Among those in attendance were Guy Franklin, founder of "Israeli Mapped in NY," an interactive map of Israeli start-ups in New York; Shaul Olmert; Co-founder and CEO of Playbuzz; Shachar Orren, VP of Content at Playbuzz; Jonathan Poor of Startupbootcamp FinTech; Gal Sela of WeWork; Adi HIla Yoffe, Director of Business Development at Masa Israel Journey; Adi Barel, Director of International Business Development at Masa Israel Journey; and Meara Razon Ashtivker, COO at Masa Israel Journey. 

Originally published in Jewish Insider and republished in Haaretz

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An Immediate Connection

By Andrea Nadel, Career Israel alumna

alt="andrea and misha's wedding"

Misha and I met on Career Israel in 2009, and we had an immediate connection. We very quickly realized we wanted to be together.

After finishing Career Israel in 2010 we returned to Minneapolis and Cincinnati, our respective hometowns, to figure out our next steps and, hopefully, find jobs (#greatrecession).

Our “long-distance” phase lasted until August 2011, when I moved to Minneapolis for graduate school, a job and, of course, Misha. We’ve been living in Minneapolis together ever since, and got married surrounded with our friends and loved ones in Cincinnati in August 2014 – 5 years (almost to do the day) after we first met.

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The Magic of Masa Israel By Julie Katz

I learned more in my five months in Israel than I did in all four years of college.
My parents don’t enjoy hearing this (sorry Mom and Dad!). Of course, college was incredibly valuable in many ways. But you learn by experiencing, and I have never experienced more than I did through Masa Israel.

Masa Israel is one of those beautiful organizations whose sole purpose is to give: to give money, to give awareness, and to give the beauty of connecting with your heritage and a story that goes back thousands of years. They want to invest in you, and they go above and beyond to do so.

One of the most important things I was given was a deeper understanding of Israel. My Masa Israel program, Career Israel, did an especially impressive job of exposing us to all different aspects of Israeli society. We heard from politicians on the left and on the right, Palestinian school children, Ethiopian community leaders, religious scholars, leading army figures, and African asylum seekers, just to name a few.

I was continually amazed by the vast array of opinions and knowledge, and my program’s willingness to show us Israel’s strengths and weaknesses.
Masa Israel also gave me several other opportunities, one of which was my internship with Innovation: Africa. Innovation: Africa brings Israeli solar technology to African villages, using the principle of Tikkun Olam, or repairing the world, as its guiding force. My colleagues at Innovation: Africa were generous in their willingness to teach and guide me, they also entrusted me with a huge deal of responsibility.

I worked on several research projects, as well as the organization’s social media and donor outreach. I also attended several conferences, where I learned how Israel’s incredible start-up industry and culture of innovation was applied to the humanitarian sector. These included the Israeli-California Water Partnership , IsraAID’s seminar on Haiti’s post-earthquake development, and a competition involving inventions geared towards improving the quality of life in Africa. The uniqueness of these experiences and the skills I learned, helped me land my current job.


Through their Global Leadership Institute, Masa Israel gave me exposure to Diaspora Jewry and the ability to tap into the incredible potential of our upcoming generation. My first experience with GLI was the Global Leadership Summit, a week-long conference where we explored the concept of adaptive leadership. The quality of speakers and seminars was unbelievable, and I gained incredible knowledge and insight.

Masa Israel was very intentional about having participants from every different background, and I walked away with friends from Brazil, Argentina, Ukraine, Russia, England, and France, just to name a few. Masa gave us the opportunity to turn our thoughts into action at the GLI Shabbaton, where we reunited with friends and discussed our role in tackling the challenges that face global Jewry.


A few moments from Julie’s year in Israel!


These experiences allowed me to learn, discuss, and connect with many special people. I think back on them often, and I also find myself talking about Israel frequently. Sometimes it’s about one of these experiences, but usually, it turns into me urging someone to go, to just do it, and not to worry because Masa Israel will help you make it happen.
Most people politely nod their heads at my insistence. They can tell the enormity of the impact it has had on me, but can’t quite understand the magic of it.
As much as I want to be able to explain, I can’t. So thank you Masa Israel, for allowing me this experience that was so incredible it became unexplainable. And to whoever is reading this, don’t just nod your head. Go, just do it, and experience the unexplainable magic for yourself.


Julie Katz is a Career Israel 2015 – 2016 Alumna who currently resides in Marietta, GA.

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5 Internships That Will Make Your Resume Stand Out

Looking to travel to Israel, yet don’t want to put a hold on your academic studies? No worries! Take a look at 5 internships that you can apply to in Israel that will make your resume much more appealing to US companies. It will allow your resume to appear more diverse.


Marketing and Public Relations Internship, Spree: Tel Aviv


– An internship that encompasses the fields of fashion, beauty, and media.

– Teaches you both marketing and PR strategies.

– Gives you the opportunity to work with a team and learn how to interact with people in a professional setting.

Professional Career Opportunities: Marketing Firm, Public Relations Firm, Communications, Fashion, and Media Management.

Program Provider: Destination Israel.


Business Development Analyst, Signals Group: Netanya


– Work directly with the Business Development team.

– Gain experience working with a company’s database.

– Learn how to partner with other organizations in a professional setting.

Professional Career Opportunities: Business, Finance, Technology, Marketing, Accounting Firms and Start-Up Companies.

Program Provider: Masa Israel Elite Internships.


Research Fellowship, NGO Monitor: Jerusalem

NGO Monitor

– Gives you the opportunity to write and present progress reports monthly to a team.

– Get the chance to write research essays, which you can attach to future job applications.

– Work alongside government offices to improve research projects.

Professional Career Opportunities: Business Development, Politics, International Relations, Law, Human Rights, International Organizations, Government Offices, Non- Profit, United Nations.

Program Provider: Israel Government Fellows


Regulatory Affairs Coordinator, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK): Petach Tikva


– Gives you access to official documents from the companies database and teaches you how to organize them in an effective way.

– You will have the opportunity to see how the company’s aims to simplify their operations model in an effective way.

– Analyze how companies handle finances in a long-term perspective.

Professional Career Opportunities: Business, Finance, Biotech, and Medical/Pharmaceutical.

Program Provider: Gvahim Young Leaders


Congressional Affairs Fellowship, Congressional Affairs Department – North American Division – Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Jerusalem

Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

– Gives you the chance to analyze the 2015 presidential election with a group of professionals.

– Help with hosting the US congressional delegation to Israel.

– Learn how to research certain legislations.

– Write political reports and updates from the hill.

Professional Career Opportunities: Government, Public Service, Law, Foreign Policy, And Political Media.

– Program Provider: Israel Government Fellows.

Doing an internship abroad will provide you with the skills, experience, and connections necessary to land your dream job once you return to the United States. Having this experience on your resume will make you stand amongst your American peers with more advanced and developed work skills


Interested in getting a grant to make this Internship possible at a reasonable cost? Click here

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eJewish Philanthropy: From Israeli Start-Ups to NYC Success: Masa Israel Journey Builds the Next Generation of Digital Entrepreneurs

Gal, Guy and Adi Hila

(l-r) Gal Sela, Associate Community Manager at WeWork; Guy Franklin, General Manger of SOSA and Founder of Israeli Mapped in NY; and Adi Hila Yoffe, Director of North American Business Development at Masa Israel Journey converse about the Israeli and New York start-up ecosystems, during a February 8, 2017, New York gathering co-hosted by Masa Israel Journey and Israeli start-up Playbuzz. Photo by Axel Angeles/Masa Israel Journey.

Representatives from Israeli start-ups with a presence in New York, including WeWork, the shared workspace innovator, and Playbuzz, the interactive storytelling platform, convened in Playbuzz’s Manhattan headquarters last week to discuss the benefits of working in Israel’s tech industry. The gathering was co-hosted by Masa Israel Journey, which offers students and young professionals career development opportunities across the “Start-Up Nation.”

Among those in attendance were Guy Franklin, general manager of SOSA (South of Salame), a multi-dimensional platform for global start-up ecosystems, and founder of “Israeli Mapped in NY,” an interactive map of Israeli start-ups in New York; Shachar Orren, VP of Content at Playbuzz; Michael Sadan, a content licensing specialist at Financial Times; Chris Schembra, founder of the 747 Club; and Jonathan Poor of Startupbootcamp FinTech.

Adi Hila Yoffe, director of business development for North America at Masa Israel Journey, together with Adi Barel, Masa’s director of international business development, convened the gathering to deepen the organization’s collaboration with the global Israeli ecosystem in order to further create a global community that provides the best opportunities for Masa participants and alumni. It is one of several such events happening around the country.

Yoffe kicked off the conversation, describing how only recently have internships become a regular part of the Israeli business model. In 2007, with a breakthrough partnership between Masa Israel Journey – an initiative of The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Government of Israel – and the Ministry of Economy and Social Security, the internship program concept was introduced into the Israeli workplace. Every year since, thousands of U.S. interns have been hired by Israeli firms, where they develop critical skills that allow them to advance their careers when they return home.

Interns in Israeli start-up companies have intensive, hands-on work experiences unlike anywhere else in the world. “The mentality in Israel is completely unique,” said Yoffe. “Risks are encouraged, and mistakes are brushed off. Israeli start-ups, across the board, are safe spaces where all employees, and interns especially, are encouraged to be critical and to improvise. They are asked to be outspoken, and they are listened to. As a result, Masa Israel Journey alumni enter the U.S. job market more confident, and more knowledgeable, than they would otherwise be.”

Margot Touitou is one such alumna. Now a Playbuzz content account manager in New York, she told the group that it was her Masa Israel internship at Tel Aviv tech company Brayola that helped her secure her current job. “I would never be where I am today if it wasn’t for that experience,” she commented. “It was absolutely what made me, and my resume, stand out when I was applying for positions in the U.S.”

The old cliché of interns getting coffee could not be further from the truth in Israeli start-ups, said Shachar Orren, Playbuzz’s vice president of content. “While in most companies around the world, an intern and a CEO wouldn’t even be in the same room as one another, in Israel it’s not uncommon to see them sitting alongside each other, sharing feedback and ideas.”

The conversation also turned to shared office space, a trend that WeWork pioneered. Members don’t just share office amenities, but, inspired by the Israeli kibbutz system, they also pool together resources, creating a community of entrepreneurs. It is a community that Masa Israel Journey joined earlier this year, when WeWork became its newest official corporate sponsor. Together this fall, they launched the WeWork Masa-GLI Business & Innovation Leadership Fellowship, a training program for Masa Israel program participants.

Originally published in eJewish Philanthropy

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The Forward: 8 Ways to Boost or Change Your Career in 2018

This piece was contributed by Masa Israel Journey — for more information, click here.

1. Masa Israel Teaching Fellows

Whether you’re a recent grad who wants to make an impact or a few years out of school and burnt out from the corporate grind, Masa Israel Teaching Fellows is a truly unique opportunity to contribute to Israeli society. Spend 10 months teaching English and volunteering in Israel. Masa Israel Teaching Fellows serve in low-income communities to improve English learning outcomes in Israel’s most crowded classrooms, setting their students up for success in school and beyond.

2. Israel Government Fellows

If you’re passionate about politics, international relations and the Jewish world and you’re eager to gain serious knowledge and professional experience, look no further than Israel Government Fellows. An elite leadership and professional development program endorsed by the Office of the Prime Minister of Israel offers full-time internships in government ministries, think tanks and civil society organizations. Additionally, fellows meet leading public figures and academics during weekly seminars about Jewish and Israeli history, Zionist thought, Israeli politics, and more.

3. Destination Israel Career Growth

Career Growth is one of the most affordable ways to intern and live in Tel Aviv. You’ll work one-on-one with Destination Israel’s staff to find your ideal internship with one of over 800 companies, starts ups and nonprofits in their network. Outside the office, you’ll have plenty of time to experience everything that the nonstop city of Tel Aviv has to offer. When it’s time for you to turn in for the night, you’ll rest your head in a studio or shared apartment in Yafo (Jaffa), one of Tel Aviv’s oldest and trendiest neighborhoods. 4. Israel Tech Challenge CTO Coding Bootcamp

4. Israel Tech Challenge CTO Coding Bootcamp

If you’re looking for hands on experience in community organizing and nonprofit work, then the Yahel Social Change Program is for you. Yahel partners with local grassroots organizations in the Rishon LeZion’s Ethiopian-Israeli community and the mixed Jewish and Arab-Israeli city of Lod to create a community-based service learning experience. As a result participants gain a holistic community development experience through civic engagement and a real impact in the communities in which they work.

6. Career Israel


With over 1,700 internships in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to choose from, Career Israel will help you find the perfect internship to help you launch or change your career. You’ll live and work in the heart of either city, building your resume, advancing your career, expanding your network, and living like a local.

7. Pardes Learn + Intern

Pardes Institute for Jewish Studies is an open, co-ed and non-denominational Jewish learning community in Jerusalem. Deepen your Jewish knowledge and identity spending the spring semester studying classical Jewish texts and ideas, as well as ethical, spiritual, philosophical, legal and societal issues facing the Jewish people today. Come summer, you’ll intern with an Israel company or organization in your field of interest and continue your studies once a week.

7. Master’s Degree Programs


Israel is home to some of the best universities in the world and they all offer a wide variety of one-year master’s degree programs. Whether you want to add MBA, MPH, MA, MS, or LLM to your email signature, a master’s degree from a top-notch Israeli university is one of the fastest and most affordable ways to achieve your career goals.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

Originally published in The Forward

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Humans of Masa presenting Shahni Ben-Haim

Hello, my name is Shahni Ben-Haim and I am from Agoura Hills, CA. I studied at San Francisco State University before coming to Israel for the Young Judea WUJS program. 

Q: Why Israel?

Why not Israel? I am a first generation American who grew up going to visit family in Israel but have never been able to experience what it might be like to live in Israel. After getting my B.A. I thought to myself there wouldn’t be a better time to experience living in Israel, and I absolutely love it. 

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

There are so many moments to choose from! I’d have to say my favorite moment so far has been experiencing Israel on Yom Kippur. Especially being in Tel Aviv, it is beautiful how everyone takes the time to connect with each other and it’s also exciting to walk on Ayalon Highway with no cars at all!

Q: What is your program like, what makes it different from life at home?

WUJS has been very easy going. I feel extremely independent but it feels different from home because there are a ton of bonuses like the weekly trips to keep you connected to the other people on my program. 

Q: How do you think you’re time in Israel has helped you on a journey to a meaningful career and future?

I think my time in Israel has allowed me to solidify the idea of what kind of career I hope to pursue. I’m not sure yet where that will be but I’m happy I know what I want, because before coming to Israel I had no clue.

Q: Any advice for incoming interns in Tel Aviv?

My advice for incoming interns is to be specific about the goals you hope to reach towards the end of the program and stick to them. I’ve achieved 2 of my 3 goals so far and am working on achieving the third one. Also if you’re coming to Israel with full intention to move back home, don’t, you’re probably going to change your mind.

Q: What’s next for you after Masa?

That’s my third goal, figuring that out.

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Cleveland.Com: Monica Arkin’s Career Israel Story

By Jeff Piorkowski

Israel: Beachwood High School 2011 graduate Monica Arkin, 22, is currently living in Jerusalem and participating in Masa Israel’s Career Israel program.

The program involves a five-month, intensive internship in which college graduates are placed for professional development.

Last month, Monica participated in Masa’s Leadership Summit, an exclusive seminar designed in partnership with the Jewish Agency’s Global Leadership Institute, for a diverse group of high-potential Masa Israel participants to develop their leadership capacity.

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Monica (second from left) and her friends after a color run in Israel.  

A University of Michigan graduate, Arkin has two internships, one at Hadassah Ein Kerem, where she is working on research to address eating disorders, and the other at Israel Trauma Coalition, an organization founded after 9/11 to help people around the world in the wake of violence.

“My goal, as of now, is to get a PhD in clinical psychology because I like the flexibility of the clinical psych degree,” Monica told me, via email. “It enables you to do both clinical work, like therapy, as well as research in a variety of different settings.”

As for her work with the Trauma Coalition, Arkin said, “It’s unfortunate that Israel has so much experience with terror and trauma, but at least Israelis can use their knowledge and share it with the rest of the world when other countries are experiencing tragedy.”

“I admire her resilience and persistence in going to the front lines where so much trauma is occurring and doing what she can to help,” said Monica’s mother, Alison Arkin, of Beachwood.

Originally published on

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It takes two to Tango, in Israel

By Amy Albertson


It’s always better when we’re together

Yes, the rumors are true. Many Masa Israel participants meet their significant others during their programs. It makes perfect sense—you’re both in Israel for a long-term experience, you’re meeting tons of new people, and discovering lots of new things about yourselves, this country, and life.

But for Argentinian couple, Kevin Rotenberg and Zaira Nahir, the order was a little bit different. After hearing from friends about Masa Israel programs these Buenos Aires natives decided that they wanted to eventually come to Israel together. Why? For three big reasons: First to see how it would be to live together, second to gain professional experience that is hard to get in Argentina, and lastly because they wanted to return to this country that they both feel so connected to.


As participants of Destination Israel’s Bat Yam Internship program they both interned in Tel Aviv. Although they have similar motivations for coming to Israel, Kevin and Zaira each had their own unique experience. Kevin interned at a startup called Travelerbox where he did marketing and social media. Zaira interned at the Kyriat Shalom Rehabilitation Center working with babies and children with learning disabilities. When asked about their favorite things in Israel, each had different answers.

Although he loves the startup environment of Tel Aviv, his favorite place in Israel is Jerusalem, particularly the Kotel. The feeling of connection with his history and culture is exactly what made him fall in love with Israel when he came on Taglit. While Zaira also loves the feeling of connection in Jerusalem, she particularly loves the constantly active city of Tel Aviv. She enjoys walking on the street and seeing so many people everywhere playing music, walking their dogs, shopping, and more. Zaira’s favorite Israeli food is falafel, while Kevin prefers a good shawarma.


All in all, coming on Masa was their trial for living away from their family and friends and away from the comfort of Argentinian culture. Both were a bit nervous. How will it be to live together for 5 months, away from everyone we know, and in a new culture and country? Both feel pleasantly surprised. It turns out that although Israelis are very different, they also have many similarities to Argentinians. Zaira says “both are very warm, helpful people, and both have strong work ethics”. Living together has given the couple insight into their future. Kevin explains, “The first 10 days was like a Honeymooon period, and then after that it felt more real. We see how we can really live together and be far away from our families.”


Their program ended a couple weeks ago and the two have decided to stay for another 3 months. Kevin is continuing to work for Travelersbox and Zaira is preparing to begin a Masters degree in psychology. Both have enjoyed all of their experiences, both independently and with one another, they have been having in Israel. It has been a challenge, but anything is possible when they do it together!

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5 Best Bars in Jerusalem

Are you on a Masa Israel Program and looking for things to do in your time off from studying and volunteering? Check out the top five bars located throughout Jerusalem!

1.       The Shuka

Looking to get away from the crowds and meet other students? Located in the Machane Yehuda Shuk, the Shuka Bar was opened by three students who aim to create a new concept of nightlife in Jerusalem. Speakers are brought to the bar to talk about different topics like Israeli politics and Jewish philosophy.

Haegoz 17, Mahane Yehuda Market

2.       Jimmy’s Parliament

Let your voice be heard at this small bar just off the main road from the Machane Yehuda Shuk. It draws a diverse crowd, both locals and students alike, for Tuesday night Karaoke. Another fun night at Jimmy’s Parliament is Thursday night where a local singer takes on audience requests for all different types of music!

5 HaEshkol St., Mahane Yehuda Market

3.       Sira Pub

If you’re looking for an underground club in Jerusalem, this is the place for you! Sira Pub has several rooms including an arcade and a small dance floor near the DJ. Look out for events and performances in Sira Pub throughout the year.

7 Ben Sira Street

4.       Zappa

Another great area in Jerusalem to check out is the Old Train Station. Zappa is a live music venue and is a platform for local and international musicians almost every night in the Old Train Station. If you happen to be in Tel Aviv or Herzliya one weekend you can check out Zappa there as well.

Talbiye, HaMugrabim 9000

5.       Ora Bora

Searching for a new kind of bar experience? Ora Bora is set within a magical garden atmosphere surrounded by nature in the Jerusalem Hills. Not only does Ora Bora serve fresh home-cooked meals like Hummus, but it also has beers on tap from the best local microbreweries and even has a specialty brew.

Rehov HaYasmin 116

To learn more about how you can get back to Israel click here.

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3 Ways Tikkun Olam In Tel Aviv-Jaffa Can Change Your Life

By: Rachel Blaifeder

Looking to spend some time in Israel? Want to make the most out of your time abroad? Look no further than Tikkun Olam, a 5 or 10 month volunteering program in Israel that will give you both a meaningful and rewarding experience. Here are three ways that this program can and will change your life:

1. The Specialized Tracks

Participants on Tikkun Olam choose from one of two volunteer tracks: either Social Action or Coexistence. The Social Action Track provides hands-on experience working with migrant workers from all over the world whereas the Coexistence Track gives participants the chance to work with organizations that promote Arab-Jewish understanding. Regardless of what track you choose, your studies will concentrate on the issues you are faced with while volunteering, meaning you’ll be able to apply what you see outside the classroom inside the classroom!

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2. Trips and Tours Around Israel

All Masa programs include trips to and around Israel. Participants get to experience the Israeli people and Israeli culture first-hand while touring such a beautiful country! Where Tikkun Olam differs, though, is that day trips function as an extension of the program. There is no better way to understand the issues facing Israeli society then to travel to places like Israeli Arab villages and the West Bank, where you can actually meet the people whose lives are being affected!

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3. Living Like a Local

Although the program is held in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, known for its beaches and nightlife, Tikkun Olam houses participants in the same neighborhoods as the ones they volunteer in. By living with the local people, participants get a true feel for what the community is like and they form connections with residents that enable them to become truly immersed. To be living in Tel Aviv is one thing, but becoming a member of a small community is something ENTIRELY different!

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My Work with Migrant Communities in Israel and the United States

By Kayci Merritté, Yahel Social Change Program alumna

alt="kayci merritte yahel israel"

Me (center) with friends from Yahel

If I had to choose two words to describe my eight-and-a-half months in Ramat Eliyahu, they would be ‘challenging’ and ‘rewarding’:

I moved somewhere completely new.

I learned a language starting from the very basics.

I lived and worked with people who were once near strangers.

I determined the best ways to interact with a new community.

I became immersed in the reality of Israel.

I heard political opinions that spanned a line significantly longer than I thought possible.

“Every day in Israel I learned something new about what it means for an individual or a group to enter into a new country and culture.”

With every challenge, I learned something, and in most cases, many things. I gained so much from my encounters in Ramat Eliyahu and in Israel, and I know that if I had moved through my time there smoothly and easily, I would have left with considerably less knowledge and experience. My time in Israel was challenging, and because of that, I gained so much.

After my Masa Israel experience, I returned to my hometown of St. Louis to serve as an AmeriCorps member assisting in refugee resettlement. Once-a-week I pick up new arrivals from all of the world – Congo, Iraq, Cuba, the list goes on – from the airport and bring them to their new homes. Throughout the rest of my week, I help these new residents of my city access the medical care that they need.

alt="kayci merritte yahel israel"

Me and my friend Larry with our freshly-baked challah

I’m not sure I would have applied for this position if it were not for my experiences in Ramat Eliyahu. Every day in Israel I learned something new about what it means for an individual or a group to enter into a new country and culture. Now, these ideas and experiences regularly support me in my work.

During her time on the Yahel Social Change Program, Kayci worked at Tebeka: Justice and Equality for Ethiopian Israelis, a legal aid organization that serves the Ethiopian-Israeli community. She also volunteered in local schools and in an arts workshop.

Are you inspired by Kayci’s story? Learn more about the Yahel Social Change Program.

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Q&A with Sage Paquette-Cohen, Tikkun Olam Alumna

Sage Paquette-Cohen has always wanted to make a difference. Inspired by the mission of Masa Israel, Sage traveled to Tel Aviv for 10 months after graduating from Emerson College. Through Tikkun Olam Tel Aviv-Yafo, she interned at a pre-school for children with disabilities that focused on serving Arab and Jewish Israeli students equally from a young age. Working with her students fueled Sage’s passion to end social inequities. After coming home to the U.S., Sage joined the 2016 Teach For America Greater New Orleans corps as a high school special education teacher. Because of her experiences leading and teaching in Israel, Sage came into the classroom ready to lead with confidence.

Q & A:
Q: I’d love to hear more about your path to Teach For America. How did you decide to join Masa Israel? And what was your path to Teach For America?
A: I wasn’t super religious, so going to Israel didn’t immediately occur to me. However, TIkkun Olam is one of Masa’s more liberal and politically motivated organizations, which aligned with what I wanted to do. I started applying to TFA during my time in Israel. I had friends going to grad school, but I couldn’t go back to studying or sitting in a library after doing this work for communities in need. I was working in an incredible classroom that served the students so profoundly, and I wanted to continue that impact in an underserved American school.

Q: How have your personal life experiences shaped your career path?
A: I started out wanting to work in healthcare. In college, I worked in a Speech and Hearing Clinic on campus with three and four-year-olds. Through that experience, my love for working with children with special needs blossomed. I was able to build relationships and assure families that their kids could have a future they had never imagined.

Q: How did you grow personally and professionally through your service with Masa Israel?
A: I had just graduated from college and moved to a country on my own. My only choice was to grow up quickly. I learned about global issues that had never occurred to me living in Maine or Boston. The experience forced me to think a lot about the race, class, and equity issues that exist in the U.S.

Q: How did your service with Masa Israel prepare you to be a leader with Teach For America?
A: Being in Israel forced me out of my comfort zone and set me up to be prepared for that in the future. I was often the only white person and English speaker in a room. I don’t think I would have been as prepared to enter a classroom before my experience in Israel.

Q: What has been your biggest inspiration to continue in the fight to end educational inequity?
A: I taught two four-year old Arab boys in Israel who had severe disabilities. They made a lot of progress in the 10 months I worked with them. They were both from very poor backgrounds, and because of their minority status in Israel, would not have received those services from such a young age if they lived in a lot of communities that TFA serves. It dawned on me quickly that the need in the U.S. is so severe. Those boys were able to shine, but it was because they were given a chance.


Are you ready to change the world? Apply now for various volunteer programs in Israel.

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Which Masa Israel Journey Service-Learning Experience is Right for You?

Masa Israel Journey’s volunteer experiences help you build your skills to change the world by creating change for communities that need it. Take our quiz to find out which opportunity best fits your passions:

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7 Internships You Can Only Do In Israel

1) Quality Assurance Internship, Side-Kick Games:
At Side-Kick Games, an Israel-based game-development studio, an internship position is available to assure video game quality. Side-Kick Games works in the field of virtual reality headsets, Xbox360 Kinect, phones, tablets, and more. You’ll be divulging any bugs or mechanical issues directly to the management after working with the prospective game. In addition to gaming, you’ll be managing Side-kick Game’s web design.

SideKick Games

2) Strength & Conditioning Coach, Maccabi Tel Aviv Basketball Club:
Stop any Israeli on the street and they will have heard of the storied Maccabi Tel Aviv Basketball Club. This dominant franchise was founded in the mid-1930’s and has ruled Israeli Basketball ever since. On top of that, Maccabi Tel Aviv has carried their winning ways into the European League, winning their 6th and most recent Eurocup in 2014. Now is your chance to be a part of the team! Maccabi is looking for a Strength & Conditioning coach to train with the team and maintain their winning culture. Along with training players from the professional team, you’ll be assisting and training veteran and youth league teams across Israel’s flourishing basketball landscape.

Maccabi Tel Aviv Basketball Club


3) Venture Capital Finance Internship, Incentive Incubator:
Israel is known as the “Start-Up Nation”, but have you ever wondered how these startups start out? Much of the time, startups are nurtured by ‘incubators’ who help the company grow. At Incentive Incubator, startups at the seed-stage level are carefully developed and sown until they are able to succeed on the big stage. Over the last 8 years alone, this company has been awarded the Excellent Incubator Award, while having five of its matured companies receive the Excellent Incubator Company Award. Incentive invests in medical device companies, with a focus on Single-Patient-Use-Devices (SPUD), as well as in software companies, with a focus on scalable B2B solutions. In this internship, you’ll be assisting with due diligence on technology startups, market analysis, competition analysis, and deal sourcing.

Incentive Incubator


4) Communications Internship, The Abraham Fund Initiatives:
Many people dream of the day that Jews and Arabs will get along in the Land of Israel. The Abraham Fund Initiatives takes legitimate steps towards turning that dream into a reality. Since 1989, this nonprofit organization has worked to promote coexistence and equality among Israel’s Jewish and Arab citizens. Over 25,000 elementary school-aged children have participated in their “Language as a Cultural Bridge” program to teach Jewish and Arab children alike to appreciate and respect the language and culture of their neighbors. With such deep grassroots in place, The Abraham Fund Initiative is offering a communications internship position, where you will gain valuable experience in fundraising, public relations, social media, and other administrative tasks.

The Abraham Fund Initiatives


5) Legal Intern/Paralegal, Gornitzky & Co.:
Founded in 1938, Gornitzky & Co. has been involved in many of the largest and most complex transactions in the Israeli market and has played a key role in the development of Israel’s economy and legal practice. Gornitzky & Co. is consistently rated by leading international legal guides as one of Israel’s leading law firms in multiple areas of law and is well-known for its extensive experience in all areas of commercial law. By joining their legal team as an intern, you will become part of one of Israel’s leading corporate law firms. You’ll be able to choose from one of their many global teams, such as corporate finance, energy, and high-tech and startup companies, and become an integral part thereof. Interns are viewed as an inseparable part of the team and are involved in many of the firm’s operations.

Gornitzky & Co.

6) Media Internship, IBA News:
There’s always a headline coming out of Israel, so why not join a news network based in the heart of the action? IBA News is an Israeli television station that has a reputation for being a top broadcaster of Israeli and global news in English. The Israeli Broadcasting Authority is seeking a media intern with a rich background in media and experience in journalism, writing, and film making. By joining this news station, you’ll become a part of the fabric of a highly respected news authority all over Israel. Go ahead, make the headlines.

IBA News

7) Mechanical Engineer, Eco Wave Power:
According to the USGS, about 71% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water. At Eco Wave Power, they take advantage of this geological reality. With the world progressing at an ever-growing pace, there is a need for new energy sources that won’t deplete the environment of whatever resources it has left. Enter Eco Wave Power’s cutting-edge wave power technology and all the benefits found therein. Since most of eastern Israel is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea, this company sought to use their location as an advantage towards producing their energy converters. In fact, Eco Wave Power does such a great job in their field that they were awarded the Frost & Sullivan Product Innovation Award in 2012. An internship at Eco Wave Power will allow you to join a young, clean tech company in the field of renewable energy and get hands-on experience working with eco-friendly energy modules.

Eco Wave Power


To learn more about Masa Israel Internship Programs, click here.







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5 Art Inspired Internships You Can Do In Israel

Landing an art related job can be challenging. Employers want experience and a creative portfolio in order to be considered for the position. One way many people are able to get into the field of their careers is by interning. Having an internship on your resume will make you stand out among the competition and teach you the necessary skills to succeed in your future. Instead of doing an internship in your home or college town, why not take the experience to the next level? Get the creative inspiration you need by doing an internship in Israel! Here are 5 Art related internships you can do in Israel:

1. Screenplay Developer, VAULT

The Screenplay Developer will work with a variety of VAULT clients, from student filmmakers to major Hollywood studios, to analyze and develop screenplays.

The intern will be responsible for:

-Screenplay analysis and reports

-Market analysis and report submissions

-Presentations to executive teams

-Coordinating marketing activities

-Coordinating with literary departments

-Shadowing CEO and CTO in business and technical meetings

-Working on student-led projects


-Degree in Film, Film Theory or English is ideal

-Background and interest in business, writing, creative work, etc.

VAULT is a combination of love for both art and science; a mission undertaken by machine learning experts and creatives that believe story should drive audience growth at the box office.

What began as an experiment into what makes a screenplay or story financially successful, quickly moved into the evolution of a 360 degree optimization engine – the first of its kind – that delivers the world’s strongest predictions and insights, optimized to ensure complete creative flexibility.

Re-write. Re-cast. Re-work. Embrace creativity without sacrificing prediction strength.

2. Fashion Design Internship, Victor Bellaish

The Fashion Design Intern will have the opportunity to develop his or her technique and design skills, work with a variety of materials, and learn about the Israeli fashion industry.

The intern will assist the design and construction of garments. Specifically, s/he will be responsible for:

-Cutting pieces of lace

-Sewing trims and lace onto garments

-Adding crystals, stones and pearls

-Steaming dresses for pickup


-Degree in fashion design

-Experience in evening wear design

-Hard worker

Victor Bellaish is an Israeli bridal and evening gown designer

3. Stage Manager, Nephesh Theatre

As a Stage Manager at Nephesh Theatre, you will gain international theater experience, as well as the skills and confidence necessary to become a professional state manager.

The intern’s responsibilities include:

-Attending rehearsals

-Traveling with shows

-Stage managing select productions

-Writing rehearsal notes, including the blocking and props tracking

-Helping actors when needed

-Miscellaneous tasks such as ironing and helping set props


-Experience in stage management

The Nephesh Theatre was founded in 1978 as the only professional Jewish theatre operating in Canada at that time.  After staging over 30 theatrical and television productions in Canada, the company base was relocated to Israel.  The Nephesh Theatre productions reflects a plurality of beliefs, depicting different communities within Israeli society that must develop a common language and achieve mutual respect. The plays also mirror conflicts permeating Israeli society–between religious and secular, the immigrant and veteran Israeli, between Arab & Jew, emphasizing common bonds rather than dwelling on differences.

4. Photographer, Keith Glassman Photography

Keith Glassman Photography seeks a photographer to assist in setting up the studio for shoots, editing photos, and occasionally taking photos during shoots.


-Background in studio art and photography

-Professional photography experience required

Keith Glassman was born in Brooklyn, raised in New York and attended the Parsons School of Design in Manhattan. Today, he primarily shoots for advertisements, catalogs, magazines, packaging and corporate brochures. He is known for his keen sense of composition and lighting, and for his eye for design, which he developed while growing up around the graphic design industry.

5. Gallery Assistant, Mika Gallery of Contemporary Art

Keith Glassman Photography seeks a photographer to assist in setting up the studio for shoots, editing photos, and occasionally taking photos during shoots.


-Background in studio art and photography

-Professional photography experience required

Keith Glassman was born in Brooklyn, raised in New York and attended the Parsons School of Design in Manhattan. Today, he primarily shoots for advertisements, catalogs, magazines, packaging and corporate brochures. He is known for his keen sense of composition and lighting, and for his eye for design, which he developed while growing up around the graphic design industry.

To learn more about Masa Israel internship experiences, click here.

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Which International Career Development Experience is Right for You?

From internships, to business school, to coding bootcamps and beyond, Masa Israel can help put you on the path to your ideal career—and an exciting future. Find out where your journey will take you:

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The Top 6 Reasons to Intern in Israel

Masa Israel Journey’s internships in Israel offer you the perfect combination of resume-boosting career development, personal growth, and life experience abroad. Find out what our alumni say are the top reasons to intern in Israel:

1. Real Responsibility, Serious Skill-Building

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“My internship with the Ministry of Defense has not been one of sitting in meetings listening with an admiration of just ‘being in the room,’ but one of setting up my own meetings and pushing forward my own initiatives.”

Noah, Israel Government Fellows


2. Cross-Cultural Experience for a Globalized Economy

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“Anyone in a creative profession can benefit greatly from spending some time abroad. It opens the mind and heightens the senses.”

Elliot, WUJS Israel


3. Expand Your Professional Network

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“I was in the kitchen and the CEO would be there and we’d chat. He’d say boker tov. That’s something in the U.S. that I wouldn’t have been able to experience – to chat and work with the number one guy in the company.”

Martin, Career Israel


4. Prepare for Life in the “Real World”

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“Now, one year since my journey in Israel began, I am no longer the confused post-grad I was back then…I am more ready for the ‘real world’ than I could have ever imagined.” 

Tanya, Destination Israel


5. Challenge Yourself and Gain Independence

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“I became independent in a whole new light and learned so much about myself in the process. I had the opportunity to travel throughout Israel on my own and interacted with Israelis daily.”

Bailey, Career Israel


6. Find Your Place in a Global Community

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“Never did I imagine I’d meet friends from Brazil, Argentina, Russia, and Switzerland. You’ll meet people from all walks of life, from all over the world. And living with friends at Beit Milman on one floor was like living with family. Maslul Ishi was my family.”

Felix, Itrack-Maslul Ishi


Need more information about Masa Israel’s internship options? Click here to find out how it works.

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My time at VinciWorks: discovering a passion through meaningful work

Henry Finkle, student at University of Massachusetts, Amherst

My time interning at VinciWorks in Jerusalem, Israel is best described as the single best learning experience of my life. On my first day, I discovered the best way to learn how to swim is to be thrown in the deep end. I believe interns are all too often put in a corner and given meaningless work, which only dulls their experience and drowns out any passion the intern may hold for said work.

From my first day at VinciWorks, I felt involved and that I had a voice in the work being completed. Being included in projects not only gave me tremendous first hand experience but gave me a passion for my work as I felt I was making a difference and leaving a positive and lasting impression on the world – no matter how big or small it may be.

I was presented with many opportunities during my time at VinciWorks, all of which I am extremely grateful for. I gained valuable insight into a number of different topics: ranging from compliance, General Data Protection Regulations, the California Consumer Privacy Act, and anti money laundering training all the way to researching new topics, time management, and how to better handle my workload.

It is reasonable to expect that you will not enjoy every project you are presented with. Despite any negative connotation that the previous sentence invokes, I strongly believe this is, in actuality, a good thing. This allows you to explore other areas of work that you otherwise would not. I entered this internship with a specific interest in marketing; however, left with a wider view of interests. This includes business as a whole, creating content, and most surprisingly to myself, writing. I did not expect the large amount of writing I would eventually be doing for VinciWorks, but came to appreciate it and find myself a stronger writer because of it.

VinciWorks gave me the opportunity to discover new passions, hone my skills, and become a better worker and person because of it. While I am sad the internship must come to an end, I am appreciative for the experience and hopeful to one day return to continue to do work for this organization.

About VinciWorks

VinciWorks is a leading provider of online compliance training and risk management software, providing training to hundreds of thousands of users across the world. The Jerusalem-based business was a key component for many business’ compliance with the recently implemented data protection regulations, providing online GDPR training to thousands of companies. VinciWorks’ interns play a big a role in the growth and development of the business while gaining valuable experience.

Staff barbeque

VinciWorks staff and their families enjoy a barbeque to celebrate their move to a new office in the Jerusalem technology park.

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How Will You Adult and Change the World?

You’re living on your own, cleaning up after yourself, grocery shopping, cooking, working, etc. Yep, you’re finally adulting! Now, what if you did the same things, while living in another country and making the world a better place?

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Green Lines and Grey Areas

by Shachar May

“Liminal” is a favorite word of mine.  Coming from the Latin “limen,” meaning “threshold”, the word originated to describe a person’s state while they are in the midst of a transformative ritual – the in-between state where they are neither here nor there. These days, it’s an esoteric term used in anthropology and gender studies to describe people who are “betwixt and between” – people who have fallen through the cracks of society and are neither insiders nor outsiders.

As a half-Israeli, half-American, the best word I have for my identity is “liminal”. Growing up, we visited my mother’s family in Israel every year. I half understood the language. I was half-familiar with the culture. Coming to Shabbat dinner with my entire extended family feels half like a tourist visit and half like a homecoming. In the States, I introduced myself with my last name, “May”, for almost 5 years to avoid explaining the pronunciation of my first name. In the social-justice oriented circles I lived and worked in, pro-Israeli stances were unpopular. I resented the time I had spent in Jewish day school because I felt that I had only received biased information. I saw that my upbringing was secluded and lacked diversity.

I often fielded questions about Israeli conflict and culture from non-Jewish friends, and my answers were always ambivalent. I lived with a dual identity in a double-reality. I didn’t know how I felt. I knew that being Israeli was incredibly important to me, but the more I read about the political realities the less I agreed with my country’s actions.

But here’s the thing: it was still and always “my” country.

So I signed up for the social justice track of Tikkun Olam in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, a Masa Israel volunteer and internship program based in South Tel Aviv and Jaffa. I picked the program because it seemed to be the least one-sided. Unlike many other programs bringing young people to Israel, there seemed to be no attempt to conceal any of the harsher realities of the complex socio-political situation. I had seen the refugees in South Tel Aviv; I had heard about the economic injustice in East Jerusalem; I knew Israel was not a united front but a plurality of different views on what a “Jewish State” is and should be. I wanted to form my own opinions firsthand. Coming to Israel I was determined to see the good and the bad and I have seen plenty of both. The longer I stay the more blurred the line becomes.

Here’s a moment that captured the blur for me.

On March 8th we took a group trip with the program to visit Jerusalem. The tour guide took us to several outposts along the green line and explained the history of East and West Jerusalem. We followed along on historical maps, crisscrossed with green and red and blue lines marking the different historical borders of Israel, the West Bank and Jerusalem. We went to Sur Baher, a Palestinian neighborhood of East Jerusalem and spoke to the remarkable Ramadan Davash in the community center he built. He told us about the lack of services and resources that these neighborhoods get from the government. He told us how the PLO and Hamas recruit children playing in the streets. Davash is working with the Israeli government to gain resources for his neighborhood, an act that is often looked down on as traitorous by other Palestinians. I will never forget the look on his face and the tears in his eyes as he told us, “We have no mother and father here.”

We later spoke to a deputy advisor to the mayor of Jerusalem on matters of East Jerusalem. From the homey auditorium in the community center of Sur Baher to the ornate circular conference room of city hall, the contrast was almost unbearable. We heard and asked questions about the governments plans for East Jerusalem, the new plans for aid, public opinion and rising awareness on the issues.

I saw that there is no trust in either the Palestinian authority or the Israeli government, and neither takes care of this community. The Arabs of East Jerusalem live in a perpetual liminal state.

We left city hall to the sound of sirens. Two shot at the Damascus gate and an almost simultaneous stabbing attack at Petah Tikva. Arriving back to Jaffa, the traffic slowed to a standstill and the bus filled with the chirps and buzzes of news alerts from people’s phones. Another attack had just taken place in Jaffa, leaving 11 injured and one, an American veteran, dead. All assailants were killed.

I can’t begin to pry apart the mixture of feelings and reactions. The day in Jerusalem had filled me with empathy, sadness, and outrage. I understood the anger at the occupation. I felt the confusion and hopelessness of all the people, Arab and Israeli, who long for peace but don’t know how to make it happen. I felt fear. I thought about the parents and loved ones of the attackers whose children would not come home that night or ever again. I thought of the parents and loved ones of the victims sitting by hospital beds or gravestones.

No matter your view of Israel, there is only one fact I’ve learned. Everything exists in shades of grey here. The complex social and political realities cannot be boiled down to an absolute right or wrong. To live here is to live in the in-between.

I’ll leave you with the poem I wrote standing on the green line, looking into Bethlehem.


To see a butterfly on the bor

der of two peoples, hovering

over wild flowers neither here

nor there. Calls to prayer

harmonize over the cradle of

God’s own son and could be

Daughters if mother’s womb

divided earth and stone cut

by the line of yours and mine.

And butterflies circle together

when breezes blow over walls.

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Adulting as an American vs. an Israeli

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Connecticut Jewish Ledger: Spotlight on Daniel Hammerman

By Cindy Mindell

Dan Hammerman Headshot

“When Daniel Hammerman of Stamford graduated from American University in May, he decided to translate his BA in international relations into just such an opportunity. He was accepted to the Yahel Social Change Program, a nine-month service-learning immersion experience of Masa Israel Journey in the Arab-Israeli community of Lod and the Ethiopian-Israeli community of Ramat Eliyahu, Rishon L’Zion.

Hammerman chose Lod.

“I wanted to get some experience either with an organization that works with Israel or doing work that’s improving Israel on the ground,” he says. “I studied the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict in college and working with Arabs on the ground and Jews on the ground and make positive change seemed like a great opportunity.””

Read the rest of Daniel’s story here.

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A Financial Breakdown Of Doing An Internship Experience In Israel

By: Rachel Blaifeder

Having an internship, living in Israel…what could be better!

But… how much would that cost? Whether you’re doing a four, five or ten month-long program, financial costs can range, but no need to research the costs on your own – we’ve done it for you! Below you can find a complete financial breakdown of having an internship in Israel.


First of all: How much does it cost?

It varies. The cost to do a Masa Israel internship ranges from as low as $4,500 to as high as $10,500 (and even higher if partnered with a study abroad program). If you’re thinking this might sound expensive, these are the costs BEFORE the Masa Israel grant is applied!

All participants on a Masa Israel program are eligible for the grant. If you’re doing an internship for:

Four months – $2,400 off the program cost

Five months – $3,000 off the program cost

Ten months – $4,500 off the program cost

With the Masa grant, the cost to do an internship is a lot less expensive!

Alright, but how about amenities? Does the internship include housing? What about taking trips around Israel?

Masa Israel internships provide a LOT of accommodations! Every internship includes ulpan (Hebrew courses) and trips and tours around Israel. AND almost every internship includes housing (Gvahim is the only one that does not).

Let your worries about rent and hotel costs dissipate – our internships have got you covered!


Okay, but what about everyday living? How much will it cost to go out for dinner, or grab a drink with friends? 

All of our internships are located either in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, and the cost of food and drinks can vary.

Let’s first take a look at Tel Aviv. According to price of travel:

Budgeted lunch: 5-8 USD

Budgeted dinner: 7-12 USD

Glass of beer: 6-8 USD

Glass of wine: 4-7 USD

Cocktail at a nightclub: 11 USD

Now let’s take a look at Jerusalem. According to expatistan:

Basic lunch (including a drink): 14 USD

Basic dinner (two people): 50 USD

Beer in a neighborhood pub: 7 USD

Cocktail in a nightclub: 11 USD

How about transportation?

According to onestep4ward, transportation costs about 5 USD an hour, so a bus trip from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem (which takes about two hours) would cost about 10 USD. Not bad!

And what if I plan on food shopping and cooking for myself?

Also do-able! According to expatistan:

One pound of chicken breast – 5 USD

One liter of whole milk – 1.50 USD

Dozen Eggs – 4 USD

Two pounds of tomatoes – 1.20 USD

Bread – 2 USD


And there it is! A complete financial breakdown of an internship experience in Israel. The only question is…are you ready for the journey?

To learn more about a Masa Israel internship experience, click here.


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Israeli 9 – 5: In the Life of WUJS Alumna Rachel Ethridge

Originally published on Finding Florentine on October 2015 by Rachel Ethridge, WUJS Alumna ’15

My life in Israel has always had an end date.

If you’ve met me since I’ve moved here you know that on February 7th my butt will be seated on a double decker plane headed out of the Middle East towards the city where I left all of my friends, lovers, long sleeve shirts, good sushi, and deep dish pizza.

For a lot of people interning and living alongside me, this program is a trial run for their future lives as Israelis. When I touch down in the states, they’ll be making aliyah (moving to Israel with a lot of perks from the government), an act of immigration I have never considered, one they all know the answer to when they hear new friends ask if I would ever make the move.

But this past week made me think.

 Photo by Rachel Ethridge

The life I lived. Work I completed. Waterfalls I rappelled down. Food I made (cut up cucumbers and tomatoes). Mouth-dropping meals I bought. The not so tasty ones I tossed down with chilled glasses of riesling. All the boulders I climbed. Trips I planned. And the people I jumped, ate, walked, talked, cooked and sat with, made me rethink everything.

 Photo by Rachel Ethridge

Mom don’t worry, I’m still going be booking a flight back to the United States, but last week was the first time I gave this country a chance at showing me all its got. You all know I love the food, the culture I’m being immersed in, the new things I’m learning and the people I’m meeting, but I’ve always proudly defined myself as an American, and nothing else.

I’m all in now.

I’m pulling the Israeli card. I feel a camaraderie with these people as they live under constant threat from their neighbors. The sand and setting sun over the Mediterranean sea are all mine. I’m realizing that every part of this program I thought was a long vacation , is actually my real life.

On Sunday I went to work and left with every intention to mad plan, with my mad planning friend, a weekend up north that would probably never happen (it did). I walked home from her house after googling the life out of my computer for hostels and how to rent a car, stopped at my favorite bread shop on the way and continued my carb-binging diet with a brick-oven cooked calzone and a coffee on the house. That’s right, I drink coffee now, sometimes, once in a while, when it’s free. Full disclosure, I had my first drag of a cigarette in a club a couple weeks ago, I also wear a bra as little as possible these days.

I’m Israeli.

Sunday finished with scrubbing the bathroom, skyping with my people back home, and passing out with Netflix on at a normal hour for the first time in forever.

Monday had the same comforting, smiling on my bus ride home from work, and completely satisfying vibe as the day before. I volunteered at the Israeli Tennis Center in Jaffa that night and played tennis with teenagers for two hours. It was incredible. I’ll be playing with them two nights a week for the rest of my time here and can already tell some of my biggest tears in February will happen on those courts.

 Photo by Rachel Ethridge

I get a little nervous when I know my day is over and I don’t have a DVR to turn on, but Monday night changed that. I walked in the door, caught up with my roommates, kept all our doors open, blasted Amy Winehouse, colored on our living room floor and forgot I was in a foreign country.

On Tuesday I went to a museum with my program that lets you experience life as a visually-impaired person for one hour. It was terrifying, beautiful, really hard, so much fun and a life changer. We walked through a market, went on a boat ride, danced, and had a conversation all as blind people and walked back into the light with a new perspective on everything we see every day. Coming off the bus from that field trip a couple of us went to our market while most Israelis were still at work, which is weird, it seems like they’re always eating and enjoying life instead of working, but the shuk (market) was quiet that afternoon and I walked though it sipping on freshly-squeezed lemonade and my mouth full of samples of cheese without being bumped into or stepped on.

Tuesday and Wednesday night looked the same, but were full of different tastes and people.

I ate at the Argentinian restaurant down my street with a new friend, finished planning our trip up north, went to work and left once I had finished everything I needed to get done (sometimes this is at noon, sometimes at four, sometimes I work from home).

Thursday began the coolest weekend of my life. We rented a car and headed up to the Golan Heights. Driving so close to Syria in the pitch black at 10:00PM was not what we had planned, but it lead us to our hostel which housed us the night before we climbed, jumped, rappelled, fell, ate, smelled, and swam for seven hours through Nahal Yehudia. The next day we rode horses through Mount Carmel and I fell in love with an enormous white stallion named Puzzle.

So far Israel has left me with feelings for food and animals.

 Photo by Rachel Ethridge

Waiting for the gorgeous, almost done with med school, still has a full head of hair, loves his mom, will move to Chicago, Jewish prince my Nannie had always dreamed for me to marry, to be dropped right in front of my face before I leave.

If you made it through this whole post you’re probably my dad, or you had a little free time before going to Didier farms and taking a hay ride through the pumpkin patches with an apple cider donut in your hand, flannel shirt wrapped around your goose-bump filled body, and crispy, colorful, crunchy leaves falling all around you (please do this for me), then you now know why I would want to move here.

Israel is making me think about things I said absolutely no to two months ago.

Wondering what my thoughts will read like in 100 days.


To read more about Rachel’s life in Israel, check out her blog, Finding Florentine.

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JTA: Nevada Jewish vote in question due to Shabbat date, caucus confusion

By Ron Kampeas

LAS VEGAS (JTA) – Jewish voters in Nevada suffer the same affliction as anyone else ahead of caucuses in the presidential race: No one is quite sure how the damn system works.

“A big part of what we do is to educate people about what a caucus is,” said Joel Wanger, the point man for the Hillary Clinton campaign in this city’s Jewish community.

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Joel Wanger, a Nevada regional organizing director for the Hillary Clinton campaign, in a Las Vegas suburban office. (Ron Kampeas)  

The Democratic caucus takes place on Saturday — a problem for Sabbath-observing Jews. Orthodox groups, including the Orthodox Union, have registered complaints. Republicans will hold their caucus on the following Tuesday.

Wanger, who is also the Clinton campaign’s regional organizational director, enumerated the questions he encounters: “What is a caucus? How does it work? Will Hillary be there? Does it cost any money?”

This is how it works for Democrats: Party voters meet and talk until a majority in the room is ready to elect delegates to a county convention. The presidential candidate who accrues the most delegates is the winner.

Clinton may turn up at one or two caucuses. One need not pay to vote, one has only to register with the party – allowed even on the day of the caucus.

Wanger said he gets those questions at get-togethers targeting Latinos, blacks or Jews. For the Jews, Wanger, who has been in the state since last summer and who is an alumnus of the Israel Government Fellows program, has organized Sukkot parties and run an explanatory session at the Adelson Educational Campus, a Jewish school. Students who will be 18 by November are eligible to vote in the caucuses. Wanger says he’s probably reached 300 Jewish voters.

Read the rest of the story on the JTA’s website.

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Israel Government Fellows’ Evening with President Reuven Rivlin

Many visitors stand outside of the well-guarded President’s Residence on Jerusalem’s HaNasi Street, hoping to catch a glimpse of President Reuven Rivlin himself, but few people ever see the inside of his home. Last month, however, Masa Israel’s very own Israel Government Fellows were lucky enough to enter and even meet President Rivlin.

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Israel Government Fellows participants, alumni and staff with President Reuven Rivlin

The Fellows were invited to the reception celebrating the launch of the Menachem Begin national-liberal policy book series. The event opened with speeches from President Rivlin and Herzl Makov, Head of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, which hosts the Israel Government Fellows Program.

Following the speeches, President Rivlin had a political discussion with Dr. Karnit Flug, Governor of the Central Bank of Israel. The conversation, which was moderated by a senior economic journalist, focused on the challenges facing the Israeli economy. President Rivlin and Dr. Flug discussed how to better integrate the Arab and Haredi communities into the labor market and reduce economic inequality.

Are you interested in politics and international relations?
Learn more about the Israel Government Fellows program today!

In addition to the engaging speeches and discussion, the Fellows experienced some of the finer parts of the residence. “Before the event started we had time to walk through the beautiful gardens surrounding the building, eat the most delicious cake, fruit, and pumpkin soup and speak with some of our previous IGF program speakers,” participant Nomie Turnbull said.

After rubbing shoulders with high-level members of Israeli Government, some of whom the participants already met during their enrichment seminars, it was time to meet the President.

Before the Fellows left the residence, President Rivlin spent some time speaking with the Fellows, welcoming them to Israel and commending them for spending a year working for the Government of Israel and some of its most important NGOs and think tanks.

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The Forward: 6 Things I learned When I Quit My Job And Moved To Israel

By Andria Aylyarov

tel aviv port

Wikimedia Commons

This piece was contributed by Masa Israel Journey — for more information, click here.

If you swiped through my Instagram to February 2015ish, or browse that far back on my Facebook page, you’d probably think, “damn, this girl had the time of her life.” In the year or so following my college graduation in December 2013 I got a full time job, quit that full time job, packed a backpack, moved to beautiful Tel Aviv and became an intern all over again.

Kind of sounds like taking a step back in life, right? Well sort of. I prefer to think of it as pressing the restart button.

At the time, I was working at a publishing company underneath a very thick glass ceiling, dabbling in freelance work on the side and simply going through the motions of life. Then it hit me, was I supposed to stay crammed in a dingy office for the rest of my life, hoping the right career path would fall into my lap? No, I was not. So, I decided to say “Yalla, bye” to this adult version of Andria and find a new one.

Many adults in my life, especially my parents and former bosses, likely said I was trying to escape adulthood. Trading my grown-up responsibilities for hummus, white sand and the nonstop nightlife of Tel Aviv. And, to a certain extent they were right: I was escaping a form adulthood — that of a Jewish American 20-something — and trading it to become an adult abroad, in Israel.

So, if you’re one of those people who thinks adulting is lame, but that quitting a full-time job to become an intern is insane, yet you still find yourself envious of those willing to give everything up, keep reading.

Here are six ways I became a responsible adult by traveling abroad:

1. Learning to Take Charge — Startup Nation Style

There’s no point in complaining about something if you don’t have the chutzpah to fix it. While I’d only worked for a year, I was in desperate need of a career change. So, participating in a Masa internship program in Israel wasn’t so far-fetched for me. Additionally, the concept of an intern is still quite new to Israel because Masa practically introduced it to the Israeli market. Whereas interns in the U.S. tend to be college students who need to build their resumes, interns in Israel tend to be college-educated young professionals from around the world.

When I showed up for my first day at WMN, Israel’s first all-female accelerator, the founder handed me the keys to the place and declared me acting manager. Although most of the participating startups worked in Hebrew, I had no choice but to figure out ways to communicate with their founders and employees to help them get the necessary resources to set them up for success. Everyone treated as an equal and a team member. I was given my own projects from the get-go and was responsible for measuring my own success (or failure).

2. Living in a New Country – And All that Comes With

Although I’d been to Israel many times before I went on Masa, this time was different. I lived like a local and experienced the country on new terms. Living in a new country is no small task, there’s no one there to hold your hand, there’s a language barrier and a cultural barrier. After a few months I could effortlessly hop on and off the bus, adapt to the culture and communicate with peers from around the world; I knew something in me had changed for the better. I felt accomplished knowing I adapted and grew my professional network in such a short time.

3. Dealing with the Emotions of Missing Family Events

For me, the hardest part of the experience was leaving my boyfriend at the time (and now husband) and missing my grandmother’s 90th birthday, as well as our ever-entertaining family Passover Seders. Still, there’s something beautiful about building new friendships and creating a home away from home. Plus, you know what they say, ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder.’ Being home away from home allowed my relationships back in the States to grow stronger and my new ones in Israel to flourish. Most importantly, I expanded my family in Israel and reconnected with distant cousins and shared holidays with them – now we’re like BFFs.

4. Experiencing Real Community

In Israel, whether you’re at work, on the beach, hiking in the Negev or hanging in the park, everyone treats each other (including strangers) like friends and family. I cannot even count how many times I found myself sitting in the park near my apartment in Tel Aviv and women just handed me their kids for a second, or asked me to watch their baby as they helped their other child(ren). It was at this point that I knew wherever I would live next, I wanted it to be a community like the one I experienced in Israel; I wanted to live in a place where strangers can count on one another.

5. The Israeli Work Ethic

Do these people ever stop working? The answer is no. Just when your work day ends at 5 PM in the U.S., another 10 startups are probably founded in Israel. One thing you learn when you intern or study in Israel is what it takes to get things done. If you have a new idea to propose or a goal you want to accomplish – this is the place that can help you make it happen.

I went to Israel with the goals of gaining knowledge of and experience in startups and analytics, and that’s exactly what I did. From the second my internship began, I was swimming in learning opportunities that ultimately allowed me to seamlessly transition back to the professional world in the U.S., and I have the jobs on my resume to prove it.

6. Embracing Adulthood

By pressing reset, leaving everything I knew, quitting my job, becoming an intern (again), and spending time in Israel, I realized that adulting isn’t so bad. I finally had the opportunity to find my passions and figure out what motivates me. In Israel, it’s totally cool and even expected to make mistakes, because you’ll also figure out solutions. Living and immersing myself in a society that so fully embraces this mentality changed my professional and personal life. While adulting isn’t always easy, my time in Israel taught me how to not only find solutions to my problems, but to find the solutions that work best for me because being an adult is all about taking responsibility For your actions, yourself, and your personal well-being.

Now, nearly two years later, I know that trading one adult life for another was the best decision I’ve ever made. I spent six months discovering who I was as a person, a partner and an employee, in Israel.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

Originally published in The Forward

Andria Aylyarov


Andria Aylyarov is a content marketing specialist for and alumna of Masa Israel Journey. She loves a good glass of white wine and wishes she was 85-years-old and living in Boca, but she currently resides in Brooklyn.






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Leading Change in Lod

As the son of a Conservative rabbi, Daniel Hammerman, 22, grew up surrounded by all things Judaism and Israel. “I felt very connected at a young age,” the Stamford, Connecticut native explained, in discussing his decision to participate in a Masa Israel volunteer program focusing on Arab-Jewish coexistence. “Growing up with this knowledge made me want to learn more and become more active.”

During high school, Daniel was the Vice President of Israel Affairs in his USY chapter. While earning his BA in International Relations from American University, he studied the Arab-Israeli conflict, became active in numerous pro-Israel groups on campus, and interned with both AIPAC and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

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In the spring of 2015, with graduation looming, Daniel searched for a job to fit his interests and desire to impact Israeli society. Soon, Daniel learned about the Yahel Social Change Program’s new track in the mixed city of Lod. “Working with Arabs and Jews on the ground to make positive changes seemed like a great opportunity,” Daniel said.

The program’s location also appealed to Daniel, as he is currently engaging with a new side of Israel. He notes that it’s a more complex experience than he’s had during previous trips to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem because Lod is a truly mixed city where he finds himself surrounded daily by Jews and Arabs.

“I want to give them a hopeful reality for the future.”

Through Yahel, Daniel has shaped his Masa Israel experience to fit his passions and interests. In addition to his volunteer work in a community garden and the city’s young adult center, Daniel spends his mornings volunteering at an Arab elementary school. This is a truly unique experience for both Daniel and the students as he is the first American and non-Israeli Jew that most of the children have ever met. “I’m a fresh face, so they want to play with me and hang out with me,” Daniel explains.

He is also happy to answer his students’ questions and indulge their curiosities because he aims to show his students that Jews and Arabs can be partners and live peacefully together. “I hope they can carry that positive perception of Jews and Americans with them,” Daniel said. “I want to give them a hopeful reality for the future,” he said.

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In the teachers’ lounge Daniel makes a point of building relationships with the Arab faculty at the school. By talking to each other about the current matsav, or situation in Israel, Daniel and his colleagues found themselves “bringing people together and standing together against violence.”

Additionally, Daniel is working to organize a music program to help the children of Lod learn English through song. A lifelong singer, Daniel sees music as a tool for both learning a foreign language and for peace-building. “Music as a whole is a language of expression,” he said. “It’s so easy to share feelings through music and create bonding.” He believes that music education will allow students to share their feelings and create positive change.

“Bringing people together and standing together against violence.”

Last month, Daniel participated in the Masa Israel Global Leadership Summit, which challenged him to be more independent and built upon his existing leadership capacities. The Leadership Summit also introduced Daniel to the broader Masa Israel Community. “I’ve been able to make friends from different countries and build strong relationships that will last throughout my time in Israel,” he said.

Though only a few months into his 10-month Masa Israel experience, Daniel plans to continue working in the field of coexistence. Between his volunteer work through the Yahel Social Change program and opportunities provided by Masa Israel, like the Global Leadership Summit, Daniel is confident in his abilities to lead change and make Israel a stronger society.

Inspired by his story? Follow Daniel along his journey in Lod.

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