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!