Ozi’s In Israel

Paige Braunstein

Program
Israel Experience- Career Israel
Age
18
City
Sydney

While Paige did not grow up with a strong Jewish education, she used her Birthright Israel experience as an opportunity to connect with Israel as well as build a network of Jewish friends. During that trip, she enjoyed meeting people from different streams of Judaism and learning more about how they grew up. While on Birthright, her group leader told her about MASA which gave her hope that she would be able to return to Israel on a longer-term program.

On MASA, she was able to continue that journey and spend an extended amount of time in Israel within the framework of a structured program. “Since I don’t have any friends or family living in Israel, I needed to choose a program that would provide me with structure as well as a network of peers,” Paige reflected.

Her program did not disappoint in any of these areas. Paige was able to capitalise on her journalism background and was matched with an internship at the newspaper Ha’aretz where she was able to see the newsroom in action and work with the journalists there. After the long days at the internship, she returned to her apartment in Tel Aviv and spent her free time with the other participants in the program. “We got to live in an amazing location. It was cool being part of the hustle and bustle of Tel Aviv,” Paige shared.

Noah Rubin

Program
Israel by Design
Age
19
City
Melbourne

While interning at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Herzelia Israel might be a dream for many, through the Masa Israel program, Israel by Design, Noah Rubin was able to live this dream during his 6- month stay in Israel.

As a graduate of Leibler Yavneh College, Noah was unsure about what to do during his gap year and therefore decided on a less common path— to begin his university studies. While studying, he explored different gap year options and find the most suitable program for him. He decided to delay his gap year and participated in a Masa program between his first and second year of study.

While originally planning to only spend a month or two in Israel, after Noah discovered Israel by Design he was excited about the thought of spending 6 months in Israel participating in this type of program.

“Many of the Israel programs my friends participated in seemed like an extended vacation from real life. I wanted to choose a program that would provide me with the opportunity to actually experience real life in Israel as opposed to escaping from it,” Noah shared.

Israel by Design gave him that chance. Through the program, Noah lived in Beit Leni, shared accommodation with others on his program near the beach in Tel Aviv.

While modelling grown-up life, Noah woke up at 5:15 am each morning to catch the bus to Herzlia for his internship as a waiter at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. As a regular visitor to the shuk (market) in the evenings, Noah enjoyed the opportunity to buy fresh groceries before cooking himself dinner

Emma Grill

Program
International Dance Journey
Age
21
City
Sydney

Normally as a professional dancer, studio hours are from 9:00 am-5:00 pm, similar to the working hours in other professions. On the International Dance Journey program there was 8-9 hours of dance each day which “left no separation between dance life and personal life,” Emma reflected. This was partly because she lived on the same Kibbutz as the dance studio making her commute to the studio only a short walk.

“I became mentally and physically fit during this time,” Emma remarked, “Physically, we had to take advantage of the evenings to practice the personal dance pieces that we were working on. Mentally, there was a lot of choreography to learn and remember.” In addition to learning the dance repertoire, Emma participated in other strength and conditioning classes such as reformer pilates and body mechanics classes.

When not dancing, Emma enjoyed grabbing a coffee or a beer at the gorgeous cafe and bar on the Kibbutz. As part of the Masa program, there were monthly trips to the different regions of Israel and Emma especially connected with the south of the country. “The south of Israel is beautiful,” Emma exclaimed, “the desert walks that we did were magical.”

Emma also had a chance to perform twice during the program at the theatre on the Kibbutz. While there was an audition to be accepted into the program, Emma would recommend the program to anyone who is interested and qualified to participate. “There were 13 Australians in the program out of 38 participants,” Emma observed, “Which provided a nice balance of spending time with other Australians and meeting people from around the world.”

Tori Rudolph

Program
International Dance Journey
Age
20
City
Sydney

After discovering her Jewish background, Tori was then able to apply for a Masa scholarship. This allowed her to extend her stay in Israel on the Dance Journey program for an extra semester to continue her personal and professional journey there.

Different to many other Masa programs, only about 20% of the students on this program are Jewish. This leads to an incredibly diverse group with a meaningful opportunity to teach the cohort about life, culture and history in Israel.

Living on Kibbutz Ga’aton in the North West of Israel, participants endured rigorous dance practice from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm each day. In addition to the dance, there were opportunities to delve into Israeli life and culture through two Ulpan (Hebrew) lessons as well as a weekly trip or educational activity.

Of the trips she took around the country, Tori’s favourite was Jerusalem because of the rich history and the sense that the learning about the city was never-ending.

Tori’s mum came to visit her during her program; visiting Israel for the first time as well. Spending time in Israel with her mum was one of the most meaningful moments of her Israel experience. “We shared a special moment when my mum acknowledged that I could teach her about her heritage that she never learned from her father.”

Jodi Margolis

Program
International Dance Journey
Age
20
City
Perth

As a recent high school graduate from the Carmel School in Perth, Jodi was among the younger participants on the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company International Dance Journey program through MASA. This gave her the opportunity to grow personally, professionally, and in her connection to Israel.

After dancing her whole life, Jodi knew that Israel leads the world in contemporary dance. She also knew that she wanted her MASA experience to be unique and relevant to her specific interests. When a friend in Israel suggested the program, she knew it was the right fit.

With her home and the studio on the same kibbutz, the training was intense. “We basically danced all-day, every-day, for a year.” Jodi reflects. In addition to the dance teachers, we also had the opportunity to learn from guest choreographers, teachers, and other industry experts.

During her year on the program, she was able to demonstrate her accomplishments with four different performances. Jodi explains, “Two of these performances gave us the opportunity to build our own creations with guidance from the studio teachers. The other two performances were group performances where everyone performed together.”

When not dancing, the program participants spent time travelling the country and were able to see the north, visit the south, and spend time in Jerusalem.

While Jodi had visited Jerusalem many times in the past, on this trip she received guided tours of the Armenian and Christian quarters which were unique experiences for her. “It was amazing to see Jerusalem through a different lens with such a multi-cultural group,” she reflected.

Jodi also took the opportunity to travel to Tel Aviv and stay with her family friends during the chagim​ in order to be able to celebrate them in a meaningful way.

Jodi’s main takeaway was the growth that she was able to experience during the year.

As the first time living away from home, Jodi gained independence. Jodi lived in an apartment and was responsible for her own meals, transportation and activities.

Socially, Jodi was able to expand her horizons and make friends with people from all of the world. “In fact, I have just recently returned from the United Kingdom where I travelled to visit my friends that I made in Israel,” Jodi exclaimed.

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