Masa Israel Journey has been the leader in immersive international experiences for young people ages 18-30 in Israel since its founding in 2004 by the Prime Ministers Office of the Government of Israel together with The Jewish Agency for Israel. Masa Israels goal is to empower young Jews to develop as individuals while also creating a robust global professional network that includes Israelis and Jews from around the world.
Participants who choose to go on a Masa Israel program have a uniquely transformative experience in the field of their choice, whether it is interning, volunteering, teaching English, studying abroad or participating in gap year programs. Here are five ways under-30s can make an impact in Israel thanks to Masa:
1. Teach English to underserved youth
Masa Israel Teaching Fellows is a 10-month fellowship for college graduates between the ages of 21 and 30. The aim of MITF is to close the achievement gap in Israels education system by placing English-speaking college graduates as English teachers aides in schools throughout Israel. The fellows continuously improve English learning outcomes for Israeli students, including Arab Israelis, which are key indicators for students success in higher education and beyond. The fellowship is a joint initiative of Israels Ministry of Education, Masa Israel Journey and The Jewish Agency for Israel. (Learn more at israelteachingfellows.org.)
Everything in my life has changed as a result of the program – personally and professionally, confirms Jamie Gold, an MITF alumna from Los Angeles, California.
Masa Israel internship programs provide participants the unique opportunity to explore and advance their future career through high-quality placement options and advanced trainings, all while contributing to the Israeli economy. Participants can choose to spend as little as two months or up to a year living and working in Israel.
I was working for a foundation called the BIRD Foundation; its a U.S. and Israeli endowment fund dedicated to partnerships between the two countries, explains Ethan Goldspiel, Career Israel alumnus from San Francisco. The goal is to build better lives for those in agriculture, biology and industrial R&D; the work is really inspirational. Experiencing first hand the tech coming out of Israel was life changing. My internship was my entry into this field. I got to learn so much about what is on the frontier, what people are focusing on, where people are investing, how long it takes and the lifecycle of a company and product. What I cant believe is that I learned all of this in six months. I learned more than I did in college and two years working after college!
3. Discover your passion and give back
A gap year in Israel offers college-bound high school graduates the opportunity to acquire a global perspective and to gain a taste of independence, all while living and having an incredible time in Israel. Each Gap Year program through Masa Israel is accompanied by volunteer requirements that range from interning at non-profits, working with children or even customizable options for those interested. Many of the leading universities in North America encourage admitted students to defer entrance for a semester or a year to explore their interests before deciding what to study in college. A gap year in Israel means experiencing thousands of years of Jewish history, cities that fuse the ancient with the modern, living among diverse populations and discovering global leadership.
I learned how to communicate effectively, love unconditionally, how to get angry and then move on, how to sing with all my heart, and how to feed my endless hunger for knowledge, reports Gap Year alumna Maya Pollack from Washington, DC.
While other students chose to attend classes throughout the day, I decided to map out time to volunteer in my busy schedule. In my spare time, I chose to volunteer at Yad LKashish, Lifeline for the Old, a place that gives work to elderly immigrants in Jerusalem. I worked in the workshops with people from Ethiopia, Russia and America. As I listened to their stories, I began to understand what living in Israel really meant, elaborates Rachel Greenberg, another Gap Year alumna from Washington, DC.
4. Combine volunteer work with community immersion
The Yahel Social Change Program combines hands-on volunteer work with in-depth learning and immersion in a local Israeli neighborhood for nine months. Yahel partners with local grassroots organizations working in the fields of empowerment, community development, and education. Participants have the opportunity to work with local schools, youth centers, nonprofit organizations and community gardens, and learn about important social justice issues such as minorities in Israel, community activism, relations between secular and religious populations, refugee and asylum seekers.
The Ethiopian Israeli community has become very special to me now, says Yahel alumna Darya Watnick from Ventura, CA. I have made valuable connections and discoveries by participating in this program. Discovering that this community has such an unwavering faith in their religion and relationship with Israel has helped me to feel more connected to Judaism and Israel. Living and working with the Ethiopian Israelis in Gedera is one way I have shown my commitment to my faith by coming to understand and appreciate how they express their Jewish identity.
5. Make a difference as a volunteer
Tikkun Olam in Tel Aviv-Jaffa offers English-speaking Jews from around the globe the opportunity to make a real impact in Israel. Participants can choose to spend five or ten months interning at a non-profit or volunteering with social justice organizations throughout Tel Aviv-Jaffa. Program options focus on Social Action, Coexistence or an NGO Internship. Those who choose to go on Tikkun Olam spend every day making a difference in the lives of new Israeli immigrants, at-risk youth and refugees from Darfur and Eritrea and promoting Arab-Jewish understanding.
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 dont think I would have been as prepared to enter a classroom before my experience in Israel, asserts Sage Paquette-Cohen, a Tikkun Olam alumna from New Orleans, Louisiana.
Meet Masa alumna Andria Aylyarov
Three years ago today I was stuck at a dead end job and craving my next adventure. Id spent a lot of time in Israel and toyed with making Aliyah. Within a few months, the Jewish Federation of Cleveland introduced me to Masa Israel Journey and instantly I was sold. I went on my internship program from February 2015 until June 2016 and came back stateside with a whole new set of skills, and a fabulous tan. I was able to return to Cleveland, work at a startup and continue building my global connections through Masa Israel. Upon getting married and moving to New York, I knew it was time to put my passion for Zionism to work and begin a career in the Jewish world. Thanks to Masa Israel and the opportunities they continue to give me, Im now a part of their marketing team in New York, and better yet, I get to help other people have amazing Israel experiences just like me.
Know someone interested in going to Israel? Visit MasaIsrael.org to learn more, or contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel. 1-212-339-6029
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