Masa Israel Journey

Masa Israel Journey

About

Masa Israel Journey connects Jewish young adults (ages 18-30) to gap year, study abroad, post-college, and volunteer programs in Israel. Through these immersive experiences, lasting between five and ten months, participants develop professional and leadership skills, make an impact on Israeli society, and experience living abroad.

Masa Israel also provides grants and needs-based scholarships to qualified applicants to make the experience affordable and comfortable.

Website
masaisrael.org
Founded
2004

Reviews

Default avatar
Taylor
10/10

I have spent this past year living and teaching in Ashdod Israel as a part of the Masa Israel Teaching Fellows and I can honestly say that this year has been more valuable than I can ever say. The friends I have made here are my future bridesmaids, the experiences I have had here have opened my eyes, I have explored my Judaism, challenged myself and have grown into someone I am proud to be. This program has two tracks, a fellow track and a teacher track. I was a part of the fellow track meaning that I worked with an Israeli host teacher in an Elementary school, pulling kids out of class and helping them with their English. While this was very challenging due to cultural differences and language barriers I was so well supported with an amazing teacher and peers and had an amazing time helping and connecting with the kids. Outside of work the program took us on amazing trips all over Israel where we got to really see the country we were living in. Our housing was provided for us and I lived with seven other people, four boys and four girls in an apartment which challenged me to become a better communicator. The program staff was approachable and helpful and the lessons I have learnt here I will take with me into my next teaching abroad experience in Spain. If you are Jewish and want a chance to really feel what its like to live in Israel I highly recommend this program.

Yes, I recommend
jslm
Simeon
2/10

If you are one of the 40 new recruits of the BINA sponsored MITF program in Jerusalem, I want to mention something very important that you will not be told going into the program. I was part of the initial 18 person cohort recruited for the first year of the program, and based on my experience this feature was unexpected and figured prominently in my time in Israel:

The neighborhoods that we taught in were Pisgat Ze’ev, Ramot, Gilo, French Hill, Homat Shmuel, and Kiryat Yuval. If you google any of those names other than the last one (which was only 1 out of the 9 schools), your first results will be the words “East Jerusalem” and "illegal" and “settlement”. None of the schools were in Arab neighborhoods. Only one of the schools had a significant Arab minority. At my school in Pisgat Ze’ev, at least half of my students commuted from Rimonim, Anatot, and Geva Binyamin—all of which are very much West Bank settlements. Many of the students’ and teachers’ families at my school frequented Kiryat Arba, Gush Etzion, and Maale Adumim, which are all large settlements in the West Bank.

Suffice it to say that as a politically left-leaning American I spent a large part of my time in this program confused and disillusioned with my role in Jerusalem: the separation barrier is a 15 minute walk from my school, my students talk about how scared they are of the residents living across the street in the neighboring Arab communities in East Jerusalem, and I’ve witnessed everything from students shouting “Allahu Akbar” to one dressing up as an Intifada protester for Purim (kefiyye, plastic gun, and all...). It’s troubling to see an area that is so systemically full of fear and hatred, but it’s much more troubling knowing that I’m playing a part in that neighborhood’s development at the expense of the much more underprivileged and disenfranchised communities surrounding it.

What is even more disturbing is the placement of the teaching fellows into Jewish East Jerusalem neighborhoods in a year that has been one of the most controversial for the city in decades. Trump’s declaration was not just a headline for us; it was an event that changed the city we lived in and altered the perception of Jerusalem for our friends and family back home in the US.

At times it was hard not to feel like Bennett’s soldiers, deployed at the front lines of one of the most ideological battles for segregation in the entire world. It very much appears like the Jerusalem MITF program was shaped by the vision of the HaBayit HaYehudi Party which is currently dominating the Department of Education. We voiced our concerns about the politics behind our placements with a few of our superiors employed with the program, and each time we hit an ideological concrete wall. Several of the Masa bureaucrats who directly coordinated the Jerusalem MITF program were in fact from the Ring Neighborhoods and West Bank settlements....

Jewish East Jerusalem neighborhoods are in dire need of English language assistance in public schools, and I saw myself making a positive impact in the community that I was placed in—but I think that it is VERY important to mention that if you apply to the Jerusalem MITF program, you will *almost certainly* be placed in a school in one of the Ring Neighborhoods. All of these neighborhoods; 1.) have a international reputation of being Israeli settlements, 2.) have commuter settlements in the West Bank, 3.) are very visibly segregated from surrounding Arab communities by checkpoints and infrastructure, 4.) are visibly given much more funding by the government than any of the surrounding Arab East Jerusalem neighborhoods, and 5.) are up to 1.5 hours by bus from where your home will be in West Jerusalem.

There are some nice perks with this program like the grant and housing, but in hindsight (having spent the full 10 months on the program) I would say that the ideological atmosphere and difficult bureaucracy is worth avoiding. Do not choose MITF if you are looking into TEFL in Israel and pick an intensive Ulpan course if you want an effective pre-Aliyah experience.

How can this program be improved?
MITF Jerusalem should increase placements in schools that are not tied to settlements in the West Bank. For example also place a proportionate amount of teaching fellows in Arab schools, the Hand-in-Hand school or other bilingual schools, and in developing West Jerusalem neighborhoods.
No, I don't recommend
Default avatar
Aly
9/10

Enjoying moments with my students was the absolutely highlight of my experience. Everything is for them. So when my host teacher decided on an American Idol contest for our 5th graders, I knew that I was going to need to work my butt off with these kids. Most kids decided to dance to English songs, but there were a brave few who decided to sing. One girl in particular decided to sing Anna Kendrick's "Cup Song" with one of her friends. While her friend spoke English well, the girl did not, and her words became mushed together. I worked for 3 weeks with her on getting the song down pat. The line "It's got mountains, it's got rivers" became "It's got monkeys, it's got rivers" and we both had a good laugh and it became our little joke. By the time the performances came around, the girl was nervous but ready and however she did I was going to be proud of her. After the girl and her friend sang, my host teacher was so surprised. She couldn't believe the improvement in her student. The girl ended up winning American Idol and it was one of my proudest moments during my time in ITF.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Rebecca
10/10

In August of 2015, during Operation Protective Edge, I traveled to Israel for the first time on Taglit. We were there for seven days (it was a shorter trip designed for those who worked full time and couldn't take extended time off from work). However, those seven days were more than enough to leave a lasting impression on me. Upon returning to the states once Birthright came to an end, I felt a strong pull that I couldn't ignore. I needed to get back to Israel, and immediately began researching ways I could do so.

After extensive examination of the multitude of options, I landed on “Real Life Israel”; a five month internship program in the city of Jerusalem. To make a long story short, I made the decision to quit the full time job I’d had for five years, take time off from graduate school, pack up my belongings and venture to Israel as a participant of RLI through MASA.

The internship I had while in Israel was at the Israel Center for Treatment of Psychotrauma. I was able to work amongst fascinating, driven, and incredibly innovative minds in the field of trauma. After interning there for several months, I was invited to stay in order to assist with their two-week summer course at the Rothberg International School. I enthusiastically accepted, and during this time I learned a tremendous amount more about resilience and trauma in Israel, and worldwide from the students who participated in the course.

RLI was truly an invaluable experience that impacted my life in ways that I can only hit the very surface level when it comes to comprehension and verbalization. I was able to see so many sights that define Israel, and contribute to its beautiful yet tumultuous history. We traveled to Sderot and looked across the border unto Gaza. We swam amongst the most stunning fish in the Red Sea. We hiked in the north and feasted on some of the most delicious fruit I’ve ever tasted. On Yom Hazikaron we were at Yad Vashem to hear Bibi speak about the fallen soldiers and days later on Yom Haatzmaut we displayed our most festive attire and marched on the streets of Jerusalem in celebration of Israeli Independence.

Briefly reviewing the specific internship program I was apart of through Masa is an arduous task, because there is nothing brief about it. As I stated earlier, it has impacted my life in such a massive way, and has significantly contributed to my decision to make Aliyah (which I will be doing in July, 2016). Yet if I were going to tell one specific story about the time spent in Israel, it would have to be the following. On a Friday night, Shabbat, in the city of Jerusalem, I became ill. So ill that I walked (public transportation shuts down on Shabbat) to the urgent care center in order to get some sort of help. The urgent care center was kind, but advised me that they didn’t have the proper devices needed to treat me, and that I would have to go to the hospital. The center called me a cab, and advised I wait outside for the cab to arrive. I walked down the five flights of stairs and waited on the sidewalk for the cab. Ten minutes passed, twenty minutes passed, thirty minutes passed, the streets were deserted and there was still no cab. I called the care center and there was no answer. I called a few cab companies and there was no answer. My pain was becoming unbearable. I couldn’t stand, let alone walk back up the five flights of stairs to the urgent care center. I felt completely helpless curled into a ball on the sidewalk, writhing in pain, and then I heard a woman’s voice asking if I was okay. I explained that I wasn’t feeling well and was waiting for a cab to take me to the hospital. She looked around and said that there were no cabs, and yelled at her husband to find me one. Then she said, never mind, that it was impossible to find one, that they had a car and they’d bring me to the hospital themselves. I was so overwhelmed by her hospitality, and by the pain of course, that I was in tears. She picked me up in her arms, wiped away my tears, and told me that they had me now and I was going to be okay. They drove me to the hospital, and the woman held me the entire way. When we reached the hospital, I felt even more ill, and so I quickly thanked them and jumped out of the car. The woman came after me, and helped me in through the emergency room and shouted for someone to assist me. My friends were waiting at the hospital and said that they hardly recognized me in my state of disarray. I passed out shortly after entering the emergency room, and when I woke the woman was gone, but luckily my friends had obtained her name and phone number. I had never experienced such kindness from a complete stranger, and I am forever thankful to her and her husband. When I told this story to people at home in the states they were equally as astonished as I was. Yet when I tell it to people in Israel they say, of course, this is Israel, this is how we are here. To me this particular story conveys how incredible the people of Israel are, and is one of the many reasons why I am so thrilled to have been able to intern in Israel, and in the future, to be a part of this unbelievable country.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Elisa
9/10

This program was an affordable and enjoyable way to spend a year abroad and contribute to Israel. With ample free time during the week and from the holidays plus all of the trips that are organized with the group, I really felt that I was able to get to know Israel inside and out. With a ten-month running time, it allows enough time to get to know your host city as well as being able to explore the country to your heart's content.

How can this program be improved?
In general, the organization of the program was lacking. There were often lapses in communication that made for wasted time. Also, the training days were not very useful.
Yes, I recommend

Programs

Displaying 1 - 4 of 4