Masa Israel Teaching Fellows
92% Rating
(28 Reviews)

Masa Israel Teaching Fellows

Masa Israel Teaching Fellows is a 10-month fellowship for Jewish college graduates ages 21 to 30.

Inside the classroom, you'll assist English teachers in an Israeli elementary or middle school classroom in an underserved community. Help us close the achievement gap in the Israeli education system.

Whether or not you have previous experience working in a classroom, you will train with leading educators from across Israel, through specialized seminars developed by Israel's Ministry of Education.

Outside of the classroom, you can design your own volunteer project based on your personal interests. Past Fellows' projects include organizing community theater productions, facilitating extra-curricular youth programs, and coaching Israeli youth in football.

Develop professional and leadership skills, learn Hebrew and tour all around Israel. Become an integral part of the community in which you live, teach and volunteer - live Israel like a local.

Locations
Asia » Israel
Length
6-12 Months
Salary / Benefits
Fellows pay a $1,000 deposit for the full 10-month experience, as well as the cost of their flights to and from Israel. Housing, Hebrew language classes, training, and trips around Israel are included in the program cost.

Fellows receive a 1,000 Shekel (approximately $250) living stipend each month. Also, the cost of your flights, or up to 5,000 Shekels, will also be reimbursed upon the successful completion of the full 10-month program.
Accommodation
Apartment
Currency
USD

Questions & Answers

Hi Sophie, Yes you either have to be Jewish or have one jewish grandparent.

Program Reviews

  • Benefits
    75%
  • Support
    80%
  • Fun
    72%
  • Facilities
    89%
  • Safety
    91%

Program Reviews (28)

Default avatar
Aly
Female
25 years old
Bay Shore

Masa Israel Teaching Fellowship, Be'er Sheva, Students

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.

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Elisa
Female
25 years old
Providence, RI
Brown University

An unforgettable year

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.

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Rebecca
Female
26 years old
Harrisburg, PA
Siena College

Amazing Life Changing Experience

10/10

Graduation was right around the corner and I didn't know my next step. I received an email from MASA about Israel Teaching Fellows and I thought I should at least apply. I did not know that moving to Israel for 10 months would change the entire course of my life.

This program is like Birthright 2.0. You make friends for life. You live and work with your peers and you learn how to be a self sufficient adult on a shoe string budget. The stipend forces you to experience the world like a local. You need to shop at the shuk for your groceries, you say yes to Shabbat dinners at local houses, and you explore the area around you.

Not only do you get to know your own neighborhood and find the hidden gems, like Rocket Ship Park in Be'er Sheva, but you take the bus and you go and visit other places. Tel Aviv felt much less foreign with all the signs and menus in English. Each place in Israel has a very unique feel with very different terrain.

There is something for everyone in Israel. I had the opportunity to scuba dive in the Red Sea with all the beautiful sea turtles, run the Tel Aviv marathon, feed the cats in Netanya, and swim in the Dead Sea.

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Rebecca
Female
28 years old
Los Angeles
University of Redlands

It was great to be in Israel

7/10

I had an amazing year, I got to live in Israel, hike all the time and taught at a wonderful school. I also lived a 5 minute walk from the beach...amazing! MASA had amazing programs such as the leadership summit, a trip to Poland etc. Make sure you take full advantage of everything offered by Masa.

However the way ITF was run in Netanya was sub par at best. The apartment building was shabby and rundown. It is on one of the main streets in Netanya and unsecured. Drunk vagrants would come and break into our apartments. It also did not help that when we moved in there was a bedbug infestation.

Our once weekly programming was a waste of time except when we went on hikes as a group. It also felt as if there was favoritism at play, some people were offered more opportunities within Masa. With 24 people living in a building it can get a bit like the show real world.

I would like to end on a positive note, the school I was placed at was an amazing fit in a beautiful part of Netanya. I was provided with ample materials and I had a great time teaching and planning for English Days. The majority of participants were lovely and I made lifelong friends. I loved my time in Israel but unless changes are made I would suggest that people really look into the provider they choose and maybe opt out of Netanya. Participants in other cities seemed to be a little happier with there situation.

Also you have to come with a lot of the money because the 1000 shekels they give you a month will disappear in two weeks unless you eat only rice and never go anywhere. Israel is expensive.

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Adriane
Female
25 years old
Atlanta, GA
University of Georgia

The Best Decision of My Life

10/10

Masa Israel Teaching Fellows (MITF) runs 10 months from September-June. Before I left, everyone, including myself, thought I was crazy to leave everything and everyone I've ever known and move to an unfamiliar place with an unfamiliar language. That feeling, the one where I thought I was crazy, really never subsided. It was incredible. It encouraged me to seize every moment. In June, at the end of the 10 months, one of my best friends from the program and I were walking through the Old City of Jerusalem, when we started reflecting on our time in Israel and on our Masa program. Even at the end, we both agreed that we were crazy to embark on the adventure, but it was the best decision we ever made. I walked away with friends from all walks of life and from all over the globe. I now have friends from Australia, Brazil, France, Israel, Argentina, etc. I pushed myself way outside my comfort zone, way beyond anything I had ever known, and I saw the world.

How can this program be improved?

It's funny that this question says that no program is perfect. If you take all of the opportunities that Masa has to offer (trips around Israel, a trip to Poland, the Leadership Summit, various Shabbatons, etc.), then this really could be considered a perfect program. I would say an increase in the monthly stipend would help, but the Israeli government is paying the stipend. And I could say the housing isn't great, but it's free and it led to so many fun memories with the strangers that are now my best friends. So truly, I don't think I would change a thing.

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Danielle
Female
29 years old
Washington, DC
Vanderbilt University

Amazing!!!

10/10

Moving to Israel and participating in the ITF program changed my life. I was 26 years old when I applied, and I could have never imagined the experience I was going to have. While participating in the program, I learned a new language (I didn't know ANY Hebrew prior to the program), made some of the greatest friends on the planet (I'm meeting up with one of them in Spain in a week!), and was able to connect with my inner Judaism. Visiting Israel can be an incredible experience. You can tour the country up-and-down for 10 days and see thousands of years of history and eat the best food on the planet—but it does compare to the experience of living in the Promise Land. Visiting Israel does not show you the selflessness of the Israeli society. Visiting Israel doesn’t allow you to form deep bonds with Israeli citizens and fully understand their viewpoints on the world. Visiting Israel doesn’t teach you to maneuver within a different society and understand cultural differences. Visiting Israel is wonderful, but it is a limited experience, which can only be understood by making the move. If you are thinking about participating in this program, DO IT! My friends and I promise you it will be the experience of your life and something you always remember.

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Seth
Male
32 years old
Boulder, CO
University of Southern California

Phenomenal 10-Month Journey in Israel!!!

10/10

Having the opportunity to participate in the Masa Israel Teaching Fellows program through Israel Pathways was truly one of my greatest life experiences! Being able to live in Netanya, Israel, while teaching, traveling, and fully immersing myself in the daily life and cultural experiences of Israel was genuinely a journey that I will cherish with me for the rest of my life! From the food and people, to the music and scenery, Israel forever holds a place in my heart, and I will highly encourage anyone and everyone to have the opportunity to visit and/or participate in one of the many incredible Masa programs and experiences.

How can this program be improved?

The only change that I would suggest would be to provide more Ulpan / Hebrew study to the participants that would be useful in navigating through a new life in Israel.

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Debbie
Female
32 years old
Charlottesville, VA
Fairfield University

Teaching Materials/Facilties

9/10

The stipend was not much and wasn't as advertised, however ITF is the only program with a stipend. With that said, as long as pay is properly advertised then there are no surprises.

Living facilities in Netanya should be changed. The location is great, but the conditions are sub-par. The building had more an more problems. While it might be good for a another year or so, the housing should be changed sooner, rather than later.

Ulpan - Ulpan in Netanya gave us no books and not so great teachers. Therefore, my suggestion would be to bus us to Tel Aviv or do better research on better teachers and DEFINITELY provide a book. I know other cities did not have this problem and this was specific to Netanya.

Madrichim- They were great, but I employ someone who has graduated college in order to have better fluidity for the program.

Overall experience - amazing. I would do it again and recommend ITF to future prospects. My experience was amazing because I took advantage of every Masa opportunity, and it was through Masa seminars that I met my life-long friends and also developed a network of people.

How can this program be improved?

Talpiot - Get rid of it completely because it was not useful. Instead, implement a more effective program to teach participants how to teach English, something along the lines of TOEFL.

Handbook - there were so many questions I and other participants had before leaving, so a handbook would be great. For example, how to get your visa, what cell phone company to use, what to pack, etc.

Ulpan - Masa should invest the time into making sure the Uplan in each city is up to standards because I Netanya Ulpan was below-average.

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Josh
Male
24 years old
United States
Pennsylvania State University

Best. Decision. Ever.

10/10

Hands down, Israel Teaching Fellows was the best year of my life so far. Living in Israel as a local, traveling and experiencing intimately, has changed the way I see the world and identify in many ways. Teaching gave meaning to my lengthy stay in Israel, and truly made me appreciative of the many opportunities I had to travel both domestically and internationally. I fell in love with the people and land, traveled nearly ever kilometer by foot, bus, bike, camel, and taxi--all the while learning so much about myself.

How can this program be improved?

More facilitated interactions with local Israelis of similar ages

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Ben
Male
24 years old
Cambridge, MA
Georgetown University

ITF Review

7/10

I look back fondly on my time in the program, but also will not allow nostalgia and the passage of time to cloud the very real drawbacks. I formed lifelong friendships, established a deep meaningful ratio ship to the people and land, and clarified many life priorities for myself. However, the stipend was not even remotely sufficient, while led to rather substantial problems (e.g. I rarely had enough money for three meals a day and had to skip breakfast and usually a snack at school as well, causing me to become cranky and unfocused with my students).

How can this program be improved?

The stipend MUST be increased.

Response from Masa Israel Journey

Hi Ben,

Thank you so much for your feedback. We are so glad to hear that you had a positive experience as a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow, despite your issues with the stipend.

Throughout the application process, both Masa Israel Journey and our program providers try to make it clear to potential Fellows that the stipend would not cover all monthly expenses. As such, we recommend that Fellows budget their own spending money to supplement the stipend, according their own spending habits. We are truly sorry if Masa Israel and/or your program provider failed to communicate this important piece of information to you.

Thanks again for your positive review and recommendations for improving Masa Israel Teaching Fellows.

-The Masa Israel Team

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K.T.
Female
24 years old
Arlington, Virginia
California Polytechnic State University- San Luis Obispo

ITF in Beit Shean

9/10

My experience in the first group of ITF beit shean was a truly amazing experience. I was immersed in Israeli culture every day! Being in a city further away from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem made this immersion more true, but it also made travel more difficult.

My days were filled wth teaching, volunteer work, and spending time with my host family. Many times I would go to weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, and other parties with my host family and friends from the school. I would also often travel to different places on the weekend so that I could see more if the country.

How can this program be improved?

The biggest difficulty in this program was the communication between Masa, the ITF coordinators, and the teachers/schools we were working with. Often times expectations were not clear and it led to frustrations between the fellows and the teachers. The Masa program could do a much better job at establishing expectations for all who are involved.

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Eric
Male
32 years old
United States
Portland State University

Never let disorganization hinder your experiences

9/10

In addressing the ratings I gave many of the categories on the previous page, I am going to be quite negative, as those specific areas need a lot of improvement. I would, however, like to say that I had a fantastic experience during my time in Netanya as an Israel Teaching Fellow. The program staff was friendly and nice, I made AMAZING friends, and lived like a local. Our proximity to the beach was mind-blowing and some of our seminars really made an impact. I know that the program is young and it has SO much potential.
I felt that the housing was an interesting choice to say the least. Our group was placed to live one floor above some kind of mental institution (not joking or exaggerating). It never posed much of a major problem but was, as I said, an interesting choice...
Our apartments constantly had problems with electricity, water heating, and overall maintenance and upkeep. The maintenance staff was sloppy, inattentive, and showed many levels of incompetency. Our program staff seemed to do little to rectify this throughout the 10 months we were in Netanya.
The social scene in the city was great, but the social scene set among the 30 of us Americans on the trip was lacking. Our program staff did little to acquaint everyone and made it quite obvious who their favorite fellows were. This type of favoritism, among other variables created a hostile environment. The low level of professionalism exhibited by our program staff contributed to some members of our group feeling like social outcasts. I do not believe I ever felt this way but I heard a lot of complaints and witnessed various scenarios which made me feel sympathy toward these select members.

How can this program be improved?

The ages and levels of maturity and professionalism were quite surprising when it came to the madrichim, not only in my group, but in our sister groups as well. This became a major talking point among the majority of Americans. Especially when dealing with a post-grad program which included many adults above the age of 25. I think that adding American madrichim would do WONDERS. I acknowledge the vast cultural differences between Israelis and Americans, and having a few American liaisons working hand-in-hand with the Israeli program staff could really shake things up in a positive way.
Not only does the Israeli program staff need more/improved training, I think that the American fellows need improved training and more teem-building. We were brought to Talpiot for "training" and it was honestly nothing but a waste of time. It did little to prepare us for our time in our Israeli classrooms. Our days were filled with nonsensical lectures, speakers rehashing things we have all learned in high school, and activities and lessons that were never used during our actual teaching. This time would be better served in intensive Ulpan and shadowing sessions at the schools we were going to be teaching for.

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Emily
Female
42 years old
United States
Other

Amazing program and people

9/10

I loved my time spent in Israel. The staff put a lot of time and effort into our programming trips, and I met some great people in my group and through other programs I participated in. I think the teaching program could have been a bit better put together, it was hard teaching hebrew without really knowing it too well, but it was a pilot program, so hopefully the next year things went more smoothly.

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Joshua
Male
32 years old
Seattle, WA
Portland State University

Want to change your life? Israel Teaching Fellows

10/10

ITF Netanya changed my life. Before Masa I did not have a clear set of values, no idea of the future, no passion for living, and most of all, no Jewish identity. After Masa, I had it all.

I went on a personal journey to Israel hoping to come back a changed man. I left everything behind in the states. All judgement, worries, stresses, and problems to focus on Israel and the 10 months ahead of me. My mind, my eyes, and my heart were wide open, and Israel was about to fill it all.

Israel Teaching Fellows was incredible. From the first day of being there it felt like home. My Madricha (trip leader) was there to welcome 30+ individuals from all over the states. She personally showed us to our sweet little apartments in the heart of downtown Netanya (even if it was only one main street).

We were given a month to acclimate ourselves to the area, get training for teaching in Israel, have fun (go to the beach) and learn some Hebrew before starting at the schools.

We were assigned another fellow to teach with at the schools and then it started. The crazy, fun, exciting, and amazing experience of teaching in an Israeli school. I made friends with the kids, the teachers, and even the guard outside the school. Those are memories I will never forget. My schedule was the best part: teaching from 8am-2pm Mon-Thur w/ the occasional Fri, and then beach...Oh the beach!

We went on one big trip as a group each month. If you focus on the land, your surroundings, the culture, and the people, these trips are breathtaking. I sailed on the Kineret, floated in the dead sea, hiked the Negev, and explored the diverse culture of Tel Aviv. Truly incredible.

Masa holds these huge opening and closing events in Jerusalem with are so cool! They bring in big Israeli performers, food, and about 4000 other Masa participants. You must go to these!

Learning the language was fun, getting lost on the buses was fun, and going to the Shuk (market) was crazy fun.

You will meet people from all walks of life and make friends that will last a life time. I have a part of me that will always be in Israel now, and to be honest, not a day has gone by where I do not feel like Israel is my home. Before Israel I had no connection to my Jewish Identity...Now it is indescribable. My desire to feel connected to Israel and the Jewish people is like never before. Masa and the experience I was able to have is the reason.

If what you are missing in your life is a connection to something, someone or some place, then Masa and Israel Teaching Fellows is right for you. You will be taken out of your element, outside the box, and into a whole new world where you may actually begin to see clearer. The people of Israel need to know we support them. What better of a way to do that then volunteering your time with your boots on the ground.

How can this program be improved?

It was perfect!

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Ada
Female
32 years old
Oakland, CA
University of Puget Sound

Masa Israel Teaching Fellow

8/10

My time as a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow was the most transformative year of my life. I felt that I was learning everyday, about myself, Israel, and other Jewry. I felt extremely supported by the larger Masa community as well as my teachers and roommates. I made some of my best friends during this year and think about my time there extremely fondly.

Unfortunately, during my time there, the house we lived in was robbed, and we really had to fight with MASA to receive appropriate compensation. In addition, the host program OTZMA was often disorganized and difficult to work with.

That being said--there was an overwhelming wealth of opportunities that MASA provided--workshops, conferences, and shabbaton retreats that connected us with Israelis our age. All these workshops enriched my experience and deepened my appreciation and love for Israel. Since moving back to the States, I still feel like I am part of a larger community, and am still being offered ways to connect with Jews all over the country. My association with Masa allowed me to visit Poland which was a difficult but important experience; one that I know I could not have done without the financial and emotional support Masa provided.

Despite the hiccups, I would 100% encourage everyone to join this organization and participate in one of their many post grad/pre college programs!

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Brent
Male
24 years old
Torrance, California
University of California- Davis

So much to do, make the most of every minute you have in your MASA experience

9/10

There's really no other way to put it...Make the most of your time in MASA! There are opportunities left and right to make your experience in Israel productive and incredibly memorable.

Be'er Sheva (B7) gets a bad rap from people elsewhere in the country. While there are problems that are found in most Israeli cities, B7 was a very warm and welcoming place. B7 is home to Ben Gurion University, which means that I lived among thousands of Israeli college students. The University often hosted parties and concerts, which were great for me even though I wasn't a student. Some of the best friends I made in Be'er Sheva were University students that lived in my apartment building.

My Madrichim were amazing enough to make sure that everybody received a free bus pass for the entire year. This made travel to my school in the Ramot neighborhood a breeze.

Rechasim School was a great experience from start to finish. The school was very chaotic but I showed my chutzpah to command the respect of my students. Each and every day, I was surrounded by students giving me hi-fives and hugs. To your students, you're a rock star. They will fight just for the opportunity to work with you for a class period.

Many of the teachers were very accommodating to myself and Anna the other Teaching Fellow. Often times we were unable to work in the library or computer lab, so we would teach our students in the hallways. It's not pretty, but it was up to us to make sure the students were taught properly. Even after months of painful work with struggling students, the evidence became clear that they were starting to grasp the English language. The school year culminated in an English Day, in which about half of the students participated.

While I was not teaching, I traveled the country meeting Israeli friends and family. It's an amazing discovery to find out that you have family in Israel. On my first visit to some relatives in Netanya that I had never met before, I was welcomed to the first of many great Israeli Shabbat dinners.

I made friends from around the world at the Fall Mifgashim, Leadership Summit, and the Makom Fellowship. These events allowed me to see very remote regions of the country such as the Nitzana Youth Village and to meet MASA participants from at least 30 different countries. In addition to the leadership skills that I picked up, I also gained an understanding of Jewish life in other countries which I knew little of before. In the Makom Fellowship I learned much about the history and culture of Israel. I was also privileged to meet prominent Israelis and that are involved in the larger cultural and political conflicts that the country faces.

The motto of MASA is to "live it like a local." After a few months in the country, I experienced the joys of doing so. Participating in ITF Be'er Sheva motivated me to pursue teaching as a career in the US. It was an amazing life-changing experience.

How can this program be improved?

One thing I would hope to change would be the amount of money we receive on our stipends. I received 850 NIS per month in Be'er Sheva. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to live on that much money each month. Everything in Israel is very expensive. Leisure activities become more of a luxury especially by the 3rd week of the month. In addition, traveling the country can get very expensive. Sure the Egged buses to Tel Aviv or Jerusalem are cheap, but if you plan on going any farther than that, you're going to be paying a lot out of pocket. Many of us including myself had recently graduated from College and had very little savings. I would suggest that the stipend be bumped up to 1000 NIS.

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Lenea
Female
32 years old
I now live in Jerusalem, Israel but I'm from California
California State University- Sacramento

Israel Teaching Fellows

8/10

I went on ITF in Netanya 2 years ago. While it had its challenges, as would any program where you have to adapt to a new country and lifestyle, I would absolutely do it all over again tomorrow. I learned so much about the world and more importantly about myself! I highly recommend this program.

How can this program be improved?

I think that it would be good to have more information before the program began and a little bit better ESL training.

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Max
Male
32 years old
New York City, NY
State University of New York- Oswego

A great post grad year..on!

9/10

I was on the Masa teaching fellowship in its infancy in Ramla. It was the first run around for Masa and there were ups and downs, but I wouldn't have had it another way. The experience to be a part of "real Israel" and not just 10 days in Birthright were amazing. I was a part of the community and the school in which I worked. Just by being social in the community I made my own host families whom I still talk to today both Arab and Jewish.

This experience was truly one that changed my life. Now ITF has expanded to over 10 cities, and I would recommend to anyone looking to take a year to give back, expand their own horizons and learn more about all that Israel has to offer outside of the headlines.

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Rachel
Female
32 years old
Tel Aviv, Israel
University of Tennessee- Knoxville

Israel Teaching Fellows

8/10

Daily, I enjoyed a room at school where I would bring 1-10 students to tutor or play games. School was great. Living with 8 people and another 8 across the hall was too much and I wished we had lived with less people however the apartment was beautiful and in a great location. All in all it was a great learning/growing experience.

How can this program be improved?

I would give each participant his/her own bedroom and less people in an apartment.

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Taylor
Female
32 years old
Somerville, Massachusetts
Wheelock College

Life as an ITF-er in Netanya

8/10

Life as an ITF-er in Netanya was never short of dull. The city itself was wonderful; everything was in walking distance (shuk, transportation, supermarkets, mall, etc.) and the beach was a ten-minute walk away. There were two gyms on opposite sides of town and it was only a 40-minute sherut ride to Tel Aviv. Herzilya, Poleg and Ra'anana were also very close by. The train station was also within walking distance. I never felt unsafe in Netanya due to the soldiers who I saw everywhere and the main populations in Netanya--Russians, French and Ethiopians--were kind and accepting. They also spoke English! I really feel like the city adopted us, particularly the cashiers at the supermarket underneath the apartment who referred to us as "the teachers" and the two Russian convenience stores who always gave us discounts.

During a regular week, I would be at my school. My school was a ten-minute walk away and was very secular. My teacher, Merav, along with the other teachers and staff, treated me and my teaching partner with respect and always went out of their way to make us feel welcome. I was blessed to have the best students any teacher could want. They were so eager to learn and taught me how to read Hebrew. That helped me immensely in Ulpan! My students always showered me with gifts, asked me about my life in America and would get so excited when they saw me outside of school. I couldn't even walk down the street for more than a few seconds without bumping into one of my students! My students respected me thanks to Merav, who was an incredible mentor. She let me plan my own lessons for the kids, constantly had me over her house for Shabbat and would randomly cook for me. I could not have asked for a better mentor and friend.

Otherwise, life was busy with volunteering, seminars, trainings, working out at the gym and Ulpan. I made such a good impression on my Ulpan teacher that myself and another ITF-er were the only people invited to her and her husband's house for an amazing Shabbat dinner.

For highlights, I am forever indebted to Masa. They offered so many cool seminars that I was able to take advantage of and being at the 2013 Winter Leadership Summit was not only one of the best memories from my ten months in Israel, but one of the happiest moments of my life. My college did not offer regular Joe's like me leadership opportunities (they went to rich students), so getting accepted to the Summit was not only a confidence-builder, but the best way to mentally scold my college for denying me chances to be a leader. I met so many great people, attended wonderful sessions and learned a lot. Being at the Summit allowed me to get accepted to two different Fellowships (I chose the wonderful Kol Voice), let me share my experience with sixty other participants as practice for selling my story to Taglit groups and really just allowed me to smile when it wasn't always easy. The Mifgashim series was amazing as well and the one that involved Shabbat hospitality was another one of my best memories from my entire ten months in Israel. Masa gave me chances that no one else did and I am forever grateful.

Of course, the experience had some drawbacks. My apartment was great location-wise, but otherwise, had this apartment existed in America, it would have been torn down due to all the health and fire code violations. Also, the sick days policy wasn't fair. It should not have taken me five visits with four different doctors to get antibiotics and an inhaler for bronchitis (that developed due to all the smoking both in my building and around the city since smoking is not a social taboo in Israel) when I begged every time my lungs flared up to go to the hospital. I was put on medicine that only masked the symptoms but affected my job performance. Despite attending every single seminar and being within my sick-days limit, I was not allowed to miss a pedagogical training even through the medicine made me loopy and was not given an exception to stay home from school for one extra day, even though I was violently ill.

Otherwise, despite a few setbacks, I greatly enjoyed my experience as an ITF-er in Netanya. I made sure to stay busy outside of the program with the gym and writing for an Israeli paper and those kept me sane. I enjoyed the people in my cohort immensely and like with Masa, am forever indebted to them for their wisdom and kindness.

How can this program be improved?

Move the Fellows to a liveable apartment!

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Amanda
Female
32 years old
Jerusalem, Israel
University of Mary Washington

Masa...Take me back!

10/10

I was part of Masa Israel Teaching Fellows (ITF) Rehovot and had the time of my life. I have never thought of teaching as something I would ever do in my life but this program was the perfect way to learn about Israel and to learn about myself. I came from a new/media background and was able to bring my knowledge and skills to my work in ITF. I was places in ORT Rehovot and taught English for 10 months. During that time I was able to help my kids develop their speaking English by creating presentations on different countries around the world. As well as develop their written English by creating a school newspaper. It was exciting to see the finished product for these projects and get to know the children in the process! School was the largest part of my program and sometimes proved to be the most challenging sometimes. It took a while to get acclimated to Israeli expectations in schools and there were many times where I thought this would never happen in an American school. Things like teachers not showing up on time or there not being a lesson plan. But I caught on and always had a fun English game in my back pocket! Other parts of my program were Hevruta (encounter in Hebrew)and volunteering in the Rehovot Community. What made these experiences extra special is that ITF Rehovot includes Israeli University Students who are all the same age. The Israelis meet with us once a week for Hevruta, volunteered with us and helped acclimate us to our new lives in Rehovot. It was great to have someone as soon as I got off the plane to call for help finding the closest grocery store as well as where is a fun bar to all go hang out. The Israelis really became our families! We even referred to some of them as mom and dad! My experience in ITF Rehovot was a once in a life time experience and I want Masa to take me back!!

How can this program be improved?

I would have a meeting with the teachers and the fellows explaining the cultural differences. There were some things that I never caught on to that were cultural differences until the very end and it was too late at that point to change anything.

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Melissa
Female
32 years old
Phoenix, Arizona
State University of New York- New Paltz

My Year In Israel, ITF BEER SHEVA

10/10

I lived in New York all of my life. When I was 23, I found out that my house and everything I knew were changing. My family was moving to Arizona.
I was never a very religious Jew, I was raised reform and went to temple mainly on the high holidays and the occasional Shabbat. I was part of Hillel in college and was always involved more in community and social things like at my JCC and volunteering rather than strict observations and keeping Kosher.
When I found out about the move and my house going on the market, I just wanted to run away and have time alone to think and process, cope with the upheaval--so I went on Birthright, running away to Israel.
It was one of the best decisions I've made---I fell in love with Israel and on my last day, signed up for more information about how to return there from a Masa Scout.
To my surprise and excitement, I was handpicked to interview for a Teaching Fellows position, the first year in Be'er Sheva (which I knew very little about other than the majestic desert and close proximity to the Dead Sea--which is my favorite place in the whole country).
I spent one of the best years of my life there. The people were amazing and I loved my fellows & my host family. The Israeli Staff was amazing.
I loved being near the university and living with college students and able to easily walk for groceries and nearby restaurants or to the college to visit or enjoy the pool. It was great having laundry and a little gym in our apartment complex and living in the tallest building in town made it easier to never feel lost!
Of course, the turbulent war times and rocket fire from the south was very stressful and a lot of people from my program left early and had trouble dealing with it.
I had a lot of trouble myself but I stayed as strong as I could and pushed myself to finish my program and my goals and projects I had already started in my school and community.
At the end of the year, I felt like a new, more mature woman, who was more in touch with Judaism, Israel, politics, leadership, cooking, world music, and many other things.
I always felt drawn to being a teacher but after finishing the program I knew it was my calling and I will be certified to teach Special Education and Elementary Education in Arizona in just 8 weeks!
This experience was life changing, inspiring, and a real push in the right direction. It made me so much more self aware and feel so independent. I lived on my own in college but living on your own in another country is a completely different experience that really forces you to grow and realize who you truly are!

How can this program be improved?

I would recommend the program but only if I knew the person was strong enough to deal with the wars and fire in the South.
I resented having no choice for hebrew classes after a long day of teaching and also being assigned to work with a partner who quit and was not passionate at all about teaching in the school.
I think it should be an independent, 1 student per school program with the options of opting out of Hebrew lessons, and more organized trips and events with the group.
I think the stipend is wonderful and generous but it needs to be emphasized and made clear that we should not go into the program without any money, if my parents didn't give me money, I would have never been able to afford anything.
There should also be less forcing of us to socialize and interact with the Netanya Teaching Fellows who were really not very nice at all!
Overall, it was definitely worth doing and I don't expect it to be perfect in it's first few years. Definitely needs some work and more directions and clear expectations of what we actually sign up for.

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Nitzah
Female
32 years old
Syracuse, NY
Millersville University

No expectations

10/10

The best advice I was given before going to Israel was have "no expectations" and an "open heart." It's not always an easy thing to do, but it made my trip the most rewarding, and a greater adventure.

How can this program be improved?

There are always little bits here and there. I think if participants are better aware of what they are going into, the culture and what is expected of them things could go more smoothly. Going through more college like lectures and discussions on the culture and history of Israel would be beneficial to some. Also, more lessons Ulpan. I understand finances are sometimes an issue, but maybe a trip or two could be cut to put the money into language learning. Over all the program and it's ideas are good, and I'm sure will continue to improve. I loved my time in Israel! I'm not sure how it really would workout, but what if participants where living with actual families and not in a group home. This way they would have to use the language, help a family learn the language, and not be so "American" or whatever their country background is.

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Rachel
Female
24 years old
Gainesville, Fl
University of Florida

Masa ITF - DO IT!!!

10/10

This proved to be the best experience of my life. I was on Masa Israel Teaching Fellows in Ashdod which ended up being my favorite city in all of Israel. It is beautiful and safe and extremely cultural. The apartment accommodations are literally right on the coast of the Mediterranean! I spent about 25 hours a week in school teaching English to small pull out classes. I taught 3rd - 6th grade, all of which were absolutely amazing and so glad to have me. I took 4 hours of Ulpan a week, and ended up able to read, write and speak English! I also attended Achva Academic College for pedagogical classes. Masa is an incredible organization that provides so many different opportunities. I was able to go on many different trips all over the country thanks to them, as well as a week long leadership conference in Jerusalem and a delegation to Poland. I would highly highly HIGHLY reccomend anything Masa does, but especially Teaching Fellows!!

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Alisa
Female
32 years old
Chicago, IL
Governors State University

ITF NETANYA

9/10

The first couple of months was hard just because of the transition. However, i started having a positive outlook on everything and realized time was going to fly and to try and make the best of every moment. I really liked my city and my fellow cohorts. It was hard not having a car handy, but i loved getting used to the public transport. I loved how everything was walking distance and the weather definitely helped with that. I wish i could do another year again. I hope to come back again.

How can this program be improved?

While my madrichim were great, i thought the communication in the beginning needs to be extremely worked on. I was very scared in the beginning before departure getting all the necessities taken care of (passport, ticket, personal items bought). However, every time i asked a question to the program's adviser, she came off annoyed and not very helpful. I almost didn't come because i wasn't getting the answers i needed, but i put my doubts aside and was very glad i didn't let that person decide based on my fears.
Other than that, there is always room for improvement, but the program is young and i think with time and experience, things will improve on their own.
Lastly, i think it is important to stress to prospective applicants that this is their choice and while we are volunteers, that we should be thankful and try to look at everything with an open mind. There were some negative people in my group that forgot they signed up for this, but the majority of the group was great.

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Shanny
Female
24 years old
New Jersey
Brandeis University

Masa Israel Teaching Fellows- Rishon Lezion

10/10

I volunteered with ITF the year following graduating from undergrad. It was only the 2nd year of the program and they were still working out the kinks, but I had an incredible year! It was a great time to go because I wasn't ready for real responsibility/ figuring out my next big life move, so it gave me a much needed break from education to figure out my future. You don't really get paid that much but you live rent free in a nice sized apartment close to other participants...just accept that you are volunteering, and you can quickly learn to stretch the stipend. The most expensive part about Israel is cost of living, so by not worrying about rent you can live cheaply but comfortably.
Rishon Lezion is great- so close and accessible to Tel Aviv and it has its own, small, quiet beach that you can easily get to any day of the week. Working in the school was fun, because small children will find you to be a novelty and in my experience, that meant they gave us no trouble and we were able to just have fun with them.
The program staff is likely different every year, but honestly, I never met someone who worked in the hospitality/tour guiding/ israel program realm who wasn't amazing. They are knowledgeable, helpful, and have a real passion for their job (which shines through, because they don't get paid enough to deal with some of the whiny americans finding themselves abroad for the first time in their lives). Love to Mati and Ilan!
The great thing about this program is that each individual provider (for Rishon, it was "The Israel Experience") and Masa offer you a ton of opportunities to explore all of Israel, meet other people, go to cultural events, learn, and get free stuff! I wouldn't trade my experience in for anything and still miss being there!

How can this program be improved?

I wish the stipend was bigger! Masa and all of the providers under the Masa umbrella do a good job of providing for a lot of your needs, but it was impossible to live on the stipend alone.

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Hal
Male
32 years old
Boston, Massachusetts
Emerson College

The year in Isreal that changed my life!

10/10

Living in Be'er Sheva Israel for the academic year was one of the best experiences in my life! I gained hands on teaching experience that prepared me for my graduate program, met life long friends that I still talk with frequently, and grew as a professional I knew I always was. The night life was incredible, especially because I lived in a college town such as B7. What I learned from my students and the teaching experience in general was that with Students can achieve anything they put their minds and hearts to as long as they have someone that believes in them. This is the role of a teacher, to not only inspire your students to unlock their unlimited possibilities, but support them in improving their self-confidence so they can contribute to society in their own way.

How can this program be improved?

I would include more check-ins from the teaching mentors from the MASA program to lend advice on how to improve, prefabibly in the beginning of the program (October, December, February).

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Sarah
Female
32 years old
London, England
California State University- Chico

Irreplaceable Experience

10/10

The year I spent in Beit She'an, Israel was the best year of my life. Yes, there were difficulties and troubles to overcome, but the overall experience was intoxicating. Thinking back on my time there gives me a range of emotions so intense, that I sometimes try and distract myself from those thoughts.

The group experience was unique. Six strangers living in one large house, sharing a giant kitchen, and four rooms; it sounds like the Real World! And it kind of was, but without all of the messy drama.

I had a love/hate relationship with teaching that year because it challenged me in ways I never expected. But overall, thinking back on teaching, my memories are fond.

If someone asked me if I were to do it all over again, without hesitation, I would say, "Absolutely!"

How can this program be improved?

This program could be improved with better communication between participants and staff during the program, but MORE importantly, before the program begins.

About The Provider

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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

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