I found my heart in Israel: A Jerusalem Conection

<div class="masa-blog-title">I found my heart in Israel: A Jerusalem Conection </div>

 
Andrew Apt and Becca Pohl
 
What Masa Israel program were you both participating in when you met?
I was in my second year of Graduate School at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Rebecca was in her first year in Cantorial School at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, which last year had their first years attend the 
 

I found my heart in Israel: Pardes + Career Israel

<div class="masa-blog-title">I found my heart in Israel: Pardes + Career Israel</div>

 
Jordyn Feiger and Tom Bomberg, Career Israel and Pardes
 
What Masa Israel program did you meet on?
I was a first semester Pardes student; he was a second semester Pardes student. But I kept hanging out with the old crew even though I had transferred to Career Israel for the second part of the year.
 

I found my heart in Israel: Healey Heissler

<div class="masa-blog-title">I found my heart in Israel: Healey Heissler </div>

 
What Masa Israel program did you meet on?
I was completing my masters at IDC Herzliya and just starting Career Israel when we met.
 

I found my heart in Israel: A Career Israel love story

<div class="masa-blog-title">I found my heart in Israel: A Career Israel love story </div>

 
California-native Jessica Hertz remembers listening to the Career Israel participants’ introductions. “There was someone from Boston, someone from Los Angeles, and then there was this guy, Henrik from Denmark,” says Jessica.
 

First impressions of Tel Aviv restaurants: King George Street

<div class="masa-blog-title">First impressions of Tel Aviv restaurants: King George Street</div>

 
By Lauren Goldstein, Career Israel, Washington DC
 
I moved to Tel Aviv, Israel a month ago from the suburbs of Washington, DC to work with TasteTLV.com. I decided to work with the organization after reading the founders bios on the website. We seemed to be kindred spirits in our love of food and finding new and unique places to eat. After hearing about the success of the Taste TLV events I became even more excited to work for them.
 

WUJS Israel Tel Aviv: A Gateway to Experiencing Israel

WUJS Israel Tel Aviv: A Gateway to Experiencing Israel

WUJS Israel Tel Aviv: A Gateway to Experiencing Israel

April 11, 2011

Jacob Shillman is the first to admit that he was a “typical American Jewish kid.”
After all, it was easy to be Jewish in his hometown of Roslyn, NY – where synagogues are as ubiquitous as Woody Allen at a New York Knicks’ game.
 
It wasn’t until Shillman attended the State University of New York at Buffalo that he was exposed to Christian America.  “I was driving around on my first day with my roommate and I said to him, ‘Wow! There are a lot of churches here!’ and he looked at me like I was crazy. But it was the first time I was exposed to the world outside of my little shell.”
 
After graduating in May 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics, Shillman knew one thing: He wasn’t ready to jump into work just yet.
 
He first wanted to experience Israel.
 
“Everyone was always talking about Israel, about how much they love it, and it’s constantly in the newspaper, and yet I had never been here,” said the 22-year-old Shillman. “I wanted to come before I have a career and family. I needed this place to be tangible to me.”
 
He started searching online for the perfect program  – something that would be for a significant amount of time and that would give him hands-on life and working experience. He found it in the WUJS Israel Hadassah program.
 
“WUJS Intern Tel Aviv was the best fit because it combined a work internship in Tel Aviv with tiyulim (day trips). It’s really a nice balance between working and being on your own and exploring the country,” said Shillman.
 
The WUJS program is under the umbrella of Masa Israel, a joint project of the Jewish Agency and the Government of Israel to bring young people on long-term programs to Israel.
 
Masa Israel enables thousands of Jewish youth to spend a semester or a year in Israel close to 200 different programs, helping them build a life-long relationship with Israel and a firm commitment to Jewish life.
 
Since arriving here in September, Shillman completed an intensive ulpan (Hebrew language instruction), participates in weekly trips across the country with the rest of the WUJS Israel Hadassah interns, and is an intern at Oppenheimer Financial Services Co., where he is getting on the job training and experience.
 
The WUJS program’s mission has always been to strengthen the connection between the participants and Israel, according to Mike Mitchell, Program Director of WUJS Israel Hadassah.
 
The internship programs were established in 2008, beginning in Tel Aviv and expanding into Jerusalem a year later.  For five months, participants study Hebrew, explore the country, and are exposed to experiential lessons in Israeli culture and history. Each participant on the Jerusalem Arts Track is paired with a mentor while those on the Jerusalem Learning Track explore their routes through Jewish text and discovery.
 
What is unique about the WUJS program is its “boutique, personal feel,” said Ricky Yihye, Program Coordinator for the WUJS internship program in Tel Aviv, which is reflected in the way they will tailor the internship to the interests of the participants. Shillman, for example, had interned at Merrill Lynch in the United States and so requested to continue in the financial arena.
 
The 26 current Tel Aviv WUJS interns hail mostly from the United States but also include participants from India, Kazakhstan, Brazil, Germany and Russia. They are working in a fascinating cross section of internships, including everything from interning in the make-up and costume department at Israel’s Cameri Theatre and writing for the Haaretz newspaper to nursing at Ichilov hospital.
 
“There are 150 opportunities for different internships and it is always changing,” said Ricky Yihye who will seek out new internships in response to participants’ requests.
 
For his part, Shillman is thrilled with his WUJS experience – and for its potential to boost his marketability to future employers.
 
“I wanted to do something different and add something different to my resume and in the process develop a whole new network. In the end, I strive for a good recommendation to take back with me to America,” he said.
 
And when he does return to the States in February, he will remember his time in Israel fondly.
 
“My main goal in coming here was to establish a real connection to Israel. I wanted to know what it is like to live here and to develop relationships with this place and the people,” he said. “And I am doing that. I really love Israel and understand now why everyone is so passionate about it.”
 
Participation in semester or year programs in Israel is directly linked to stronger Jewish affiliation and leadership – regardless of the Jewish background growing up, a study commissioned by Masa Israel Journey finds.
 
The study found that the longer the time program participants spent in Israel and the more repeated the experiences, the greater the level of Jewish identification.
 
“We are convinced – and the data from this reports affirm – that a continuum of Israel experiences for young adults correlates directly to them feeling, thinking and doing more things Jewish and Israel with each step they take along the Israel experience spiral,” said Dr. Misha Galperin, president and CEO of Jewish Agency International Development.
 

Drawing the URJ Connection

<div class="masa-blog-title">Drawing the URJ Connection</div>

 
 
Goldman Union Camp Institute (GUCI) is one of many URJ camps and communities in the United States and was one of the most important parts of my childhood. I started at GUCI when I was 9 years old, eager and ready to experience the joys of camp that I had heard so much about from my older brother and many friends from my Jewish community in Dayton, Ohio.
 

Texts and the subjectivity of language

<div class="masa-blog-title">Texts and the subjectivity of language</div>

 
Being constantly surrounded by texts, and basing the vast majority of my education this term at Pardes on those texts, has made me think a lot about issues of how we understand texts. Specifically, I have reflected on just how much is lost from a traditional Jewish text (Chumash, Talmud, etc.) when it is read exclusively in a language other than Hebrew.
 

A bit about the experience on Career Israel so far!

<div class="masa-blog-title">A bit about the experience on Career Israel so far!</div>

By Ari Rockni, Career Israel
 
After graduating from the University of Wisconsin’s School of Business with degrees in Marketing and Risk Management & Insurance, I wasn’t sure what my next step in life would be. Having participated the previous year on the study abroad program, Semester at Sea, and visiting 14 different countries while circumnavigating the globe on a ship, I knew one thing for sure. I wanted to spend more time abroad.
 

Current feelings towards Israel and home

<div class="masa-blog-title">Current feelings towards Israel and home</div>

By Jessica Pinsky, WUJS Israel Arts
 
Where do I come from?
 
When asked by Israelis where in the states I grew up, I reply, “Ohio—do you know it?” Mostly they have heard of it but have no idea where it is. I say “It’s in the middle”.