WUJS Israel
post-college Israel programs

March 2009 Archives

Student Profiles

WUJS Student Profile


Name: Ana Katarina Finkel


Age: 22


University: Johnson & Wales University


Degree: Baking and Pastry Arts


Current City/ Country: Denver, Co USA


Ana_Finkel_at_Cake_Art.JPG Prior to arriving in Israel for WUJS' Intern Tel Aviv Program I was finishing up a cooperative with a bakery in Colorado for my Baking and Pastry Arts degree from Johnson & Wales University. I graduated the same week I left for Israel. Despite my lack of experience outside of the school I had specific skills within the food industry that I was looking to focus on. My expertise lies in showpieces and wedding cakes but I wanted to expand my knowledge of certain mediums I use and play more with the artistic side of the sugar world. I am seriously considering making aliya in 2010 and was hoping to get a better perspective of Israel and to get my foot in the door to the food industry while I'm here in order to help me obtain a job when my plans are confirmed. Currently I am interning at a bakery called Cake Art and I feel at home within my new kitchen and my new Israeli family. I just hope to learn as much Hebrew as I can, gain experience and knowledge within my career field, and to make Israel as much my home as I had always dreamt it to be. Having been here two weeks I have already make close friends, reconnected with the artist in me I thought I had lost years ago, and learned how to make a handful of Israel's decedent pastries.

Alumni Profile - Ben Levine, WUJS Jerusalem Learning

After studying hotel management at Indiana University in Pennsylvania and working in the business for two years, Pittsburgh-native Ben Levine decided that he needed to take some time to explore his Judaism.  "I knew that I wanted to start defining myself as a Jew.  It had been pushing through my head during college," says Ben.  "And I knew that if I wanted to go overseas, I had to do it before I got caught up in work."


Ben turned down a promotion at work and enrolled in WUJS Jerusalem Learning that includes Jewish and Zionistic studies taught in a pluralistic environment, weekly field trips, hikes, meetings with Israeli peers, and volunteer opportunities.


Though Ben attended Solomon Schechter Day School until the eighth grade, he had not been involved in Jewish life at college because of his busy sports schedule.  With WUJS Jerusalem Learning, Ben was able to take courses in a variety of Jewish subjects, including Talmud, Kaballah, and the Arab-Israeli conflict, visit different parts of Israel he had never seen, including the Yemenite community in Rosh Ha'ayin, and experience daily life in Jerusalem.  "On a short organized trip, it's all sight-seeing," says Ben.  "But, in six months, we were able to live like Israelis--riding the bus and shopping at the market--and adapt to the culture."


His teachers, who Ben describes as "some of the greatest I've ever had," the WUJS courses and Jerusalem life helped Ben determine how he could live a Jewish life.  "The program didn't push me towards any new religious nature, but it did show me how I might adapt myself to being the sort of Jew I want to be," says Ben.


Though Ben recently returned to the United States, he definitely sees a future for himself in Israel--be it through future visits or another extended stay.  "The way Israelis interact is refreshing--like the sabra fruit, prickly on the outside and sweet on the inside," says Ben. "When I was in Israel, I met many families who treated me like a son."   


WUJS and the Local Community

Eszter painting faces at the Purim Fair! 

One of the key aims of the WUJS program is to create a strong connection between participants and the local Israeli community in which they are living.  One of the ways to achieve this connection is through volunteering.  Prior to the holiday of Purim a group of 20 WUJS participants in Jerusalem set up a Purim Shuk (Games Fair) in the local Katamonim community center.  More than 50 children came to the event which, according the center Director "would not have happened if it wasn't for the WUJS group".

WUJS Jerusalem gets down to business

Rebecca and Lee waiting for their Hebrew Ulpan class to begin 

The 3 WUJS Tracks in Jerusalem are now well under way and our participants are enjoying the benefits of being in Israel's capital city.

Jerusalem Learning - Participants are taking classes in Hebrew Ulpan, Zionism and Israeli Society, A Page of Talmud, Jewish Mysticism and Arab-Israeli Conflict.  Participants are beginning to form bonds with their teachers especially during the Tuesday siyurim (field trips).  As we write this, participants are on their way to Latrun, Kastel and Har Radar for an Arab-Israeli conflict siyur learning about the Independence War.

Peace and Social Justice - As well as taking a variety of the classes mentioned above, our Peace and Social Justice participants have spent the first few weeks, exploring and interviewing various options for their afternoon internships.  The final internship placements will be published next week.  In addition, every Wednesday afternoon, the Peace and Social Justice participants have the opportunity to meet Israeli activists in the field of social change.  Last week, they met with Jay Shofet from the organisation Shatil and this week they will be meeting with Tziki Ud who worked with Lone Soldiers and young adults in Israel. 

Arts - Currently all of the WUJS Artists are photographers. As such they are enjoying using the facilities of the Naggar Photography and Media College in the Musrara neighbourhood of Jerusalem (http://www.naggarschool.com/en/).  Participants have spent the first few weeks exploring the city of Jerusalem looking for inspiration towards their project that will culminate in an exhibition at the Hadassah Art Gallery in July.


Preston and Jacob preparing dinner in their apartment 

WUJS Internships off to a Flyer!

Thw WUJS Intern Tel-Aviv program got off to a great start with all of our participants now getting into a daily routine.

Current internship placements include:

Ana Finkel - Currently interning at the Cake Art factory in Bat-Yam where she is part of the team producing the sweet delights of this growing chain.


Julia Leb - Currently interning at the Peres Center for Peace in Tel-Aviv where she is working working on a variety of projects based on the theme of co-existance between Israelis and Palestinians.


Natalie Dembowich and Adam Dunhoff - Currently interning at the Tel-Aviv Opera House. Using their artistic talents in the Props and Set department.  Recently finished production of La Boheme.


Gabriel Rosenberg - Currently interning at APCO worldwide consultancy company where he is part of a team exploring business relations between Israel and China.


Sarah Stein - Currently Interning at the IDC University in Herzliya where she is researching terrorist groups in Central Asia for the Counter-Terrorism center.

New Machzor - March 09!


WUJS Jerusalem Participants on their way to a class


On March 1st, we began the new WUJS Machzor with participants from America, Canada, England, Sweden and Hungary.  All the new participants are now settled into their new homes in Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv and are either learning, interning, volunteering or working on their respective art projects.


Interview with Sarah Stein from Newton, MA 


Where are you from? Why did you decide to come on the WUJS program?


After college, I moved to Manhattan to work in finance. Two years into my job, I was ready for a change and wanted to embark on a new, meaningful experience. WUJS was a great opportunity for me since I've always thought about living in Israel for a long-term stay.


How was the orientation to the program?


Since arriving in Tel Aviv, the first three weeks have been action-packed. I've visited Jerusalem, hiked in the desert, floated on the Dead Sea and enjoyed Tel- Aviv night life. I also joined a seminar series sponsored by MASA and was able to attend a lecture with Moshe Ya'alon, a member of the Knesset.


How is your internship going so far?


When I thought about what sort of internship to pursue, I knew I wanted a change from my previous job and a position in a field relevant to Israel. I ended up taking a research position at the Institute of Counter-Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center in Hertzilya and the first few weeks have been great. I work with people of many different nationalities who are experts in a variety of fields in counter-terrorism.


What about life in Tel-Aviv in general?


When I'm not on campus, life in Tel Aviv is great. My biggest apprehension coming to Israel was sharing an apartment with three other people. Fortunately, the four of us get along very well and I now really look forward to relaxing with them at the end of the day. Last week we celebrated Purim together. Our neighborhood hosted a great block party where everyone came dressed in costumes, something I had never experienced in America.