WUJS Israel
post-college Israel programs

October 2009 Archives

WUJS Participants Attend Israeli Presidential Conference 2009

WUJS Participants: Vivian Cherman Mendlowicz, Elliot Lazarus, Hana Frank

Event: Israeli Presidential Conference 2009

Date: October 20-22, 2009

Location: ICC Jerusalem 

Speakers: Shimon Peres, Benjamin Netanyahu, Tony Blair, Tzipi Livni, Ehud Barack, Eli Yishai and many more. 

Websites: The Israeli Presidential Conference 2009


Elliot Lazarus, New York

I am very grateful to have been able to participate in this year's Israeli Presidential Conference in Jerusalem. It was an unbelievable experience. It's not that I'm easily star struck, although personalities like Tony Blair, James Wolfensohn, and Ray Kurzweil certainly pack plenty of star punch. There is, however, something tremendously empowering about being within earshot of so many global movers and shakers. I've always been intrigued by the handful of people in this world who make things happen. It was both humbling and inspiring to spend three days surrounded by them.

The theme of this year's convention was Facing Tomorrow. Panels were organized to explore the challenges currently facing Israel, and the world at large, and to discuss actions that we might take to ensure a better tomorrow.  Topics ranged from the economic, political, and technological, to the religious and philosophical. 

Read the entire article on his blog Recessioning In Jerusalem: The Israeli Presidential Conference 2009


Vivian Mendlowicz, Brazil

The theme of the event was "Facing Tomorrow". It is a project envisioned by Shimon Peres himself, in order to bring people to discuss various issues regarding the near future, mainly by investigating the trends that are shaping the future and exploring the actions that could be taken towards the betterment of tomorrow. I went to all of the main plenary sessions, and attended a few of option panel sessions, including one about sustainable/greens cities (that had the participation of two Brazilian mayors), one entitiled: "stop the world, I want to get off", about finding peace in the hyper-modern world, a one-on-one interview with president Shimon Peres, conducted by Dan Shilon and one about arising scientific breakthroughs.

During the three days of conferring, I learned that, although there is much to worry about the future, there are many good things to expect from it, including amazing scientific breakthroughs, more concerns for the environment and a general better quality of life.  Most of the speakers, including Mr. Shimon Peres, appeared to be very optimistic regarding the problem-solving that must take place in the next few years. I would definitely recommend this event, it was an amazing opportunity to listen to some of the most respected political, scientific, literary and governmental minds. 


"You have to know who you are," Said responded after detailing his ethnicities. Said's explanation affords a unique insight into a nationalistic Israeli who maintains his ethnic background. His characteristics appear to bridge the divide between the Israeli and Palestinian world.  Though many Arabs populate Israel, few would claim these qualities, as Palestinians and Israeli clash. However, this was the purpose of visiting Kibbutz Metzer: to experience the bridge between the Palestinian and Israeli communities.


Said discussed his job, his lifestyle and how he responds to conflict around him. As a municipalities worker, he oversees the children's organizations in his area, both Palestinian and Israeli. Said's daily tasks epitomize the possibility of erasing the conflict. Yet this only appears on a small scale. After giving a brief description of his job, he answered several questions from the group. Questions circled round how his children feel; he paused before answering whether or not he would support his son joining the Israeli army. As a Palestinian, Said, "...can't identify with this system." Palestinian Israelis do not join the army, he clarified, as they would be fighting their own relatives. This is the division that occurs; since they don't join the army, certain benefits are not available to them. Said understands the repercussions, yet still he cannot include himself in the military actions. Though Said feels comfortable living in Israel, there exists a bias. He stated, "There are things you can't put your finger on, yet you know you're excluded." On a daily basis, he oversees youth groups attempting to destroy the barriers that separate our two societies, yet still he experiences a lack of respect because of his background.


Our visit to Kibbutz Metzer concluded with Dov, an Israeli worker for the kibbutz who explained the combined efforts by the Kibbutz with the Palestinian city of Maiser. Said and Dov are friends whose efforts are directed at destroying the barrier between Palestinians and Israelis.  For example, the kibbutz shares the water well with Maiser and their agriculture projects interweave with one another. Maiser and the Kibbutz cooperate in harvesting the olive trees that permeate the fields in between the two. Dov acknowledges that "there is nothing closer to the Jewish people than Palestinian people." This statement asserts the brotherhood that should exist between these two cultures. Though our religions may be different, the Palestinians and Israelis have persevered beyond the strict British mandate to survive in the harsh climate of the Middle East to create a fruitful nation that blossoms amongst the bleak desert.

How Holy are the Holidays? By Justin Mayerchak

        As an American Jew in Israel, I was impressed with the observance of Shabbat, Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur. Though I lived in Hod Ha'sharon for two months when I was a senior in high school, it had a different feel.  Our program afforded us a tighter community living in dorms with the amenities of a college campus: a cafeteria, computer lab and shared bathrooms kept us in a bubble. The city was much smaller; the beach was not a thirty minute walk, high risers did not stare down at the little clothing and furniture stores that pepper Tel Aviv's streets. Rather, each store maintained a hold on its market; the blue falafel stand contained the best falafels and few competitors. For clothing, we did not have the Shuk, Dizingoff nor Azraeli center within a ten minute bus ride from our homes. Also, the abundance of small produce stands that have sprouted amongst the internet cafés and corner pubs is astounding. Tel Aviv combines European and Middle Eastern flavors: little cafes litter the corners of many streets with people sipping from foamy lattes with a colorful cucumber and tomato salad on the side. 

Yet as I recall my time spent in Hod Ha'sharon, my comparisons don't rest on the availability of designer clothing or the freshest mango; rather they revolve around the Jewish culture that has set precedence in this modern city. My first eye-opening experience was Shabbat as I discovered a kosher butcher on a populous street. I don't keep kosher, yet at home, we always go to a grocery store for low prices and relatively good quality. Here, I find myself going to the butcher for meat, going to produce stands for fruits and vegetables, and maybe once in awhile heading towards Dizingoff for a sauce. As I left the store, the butcher yelled, "Shabbat shalom." Understandable, kosher store, friendly employees, I responded in kind. Similarly, the laundry attendee also greeted me with a Shabbat shalom. Although my home in Boca Raton, Florida has a large Jewish population, the "holidays" refer to Christmas and Easter, not the High Holidays or even Shabbat. My heart was warmed by this simple greeting. Though Tel Aviv is a secularized area, the Jewish holidays still maintain an important part in people's lives. The buses don't run from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday; many stores close up early Friday afternoon and the work week is Sunday to Thursday, respecting the seventh day of rest. 

Rosh Hashanah afforded another insight into this modern Jewish city. At home, decorations are scarce for Rosh Hashanah; however, signs welcoming in the New Year filled Tel Aviv. Grocery stores were decorated with banners depicting apples dripping with honey along its borders that wished people a sweet new year. Aroma cafes also contained signs of apples with honey drizzled down its sides. Similar to Shabbat, "Hag Sameach" became the typical goodbye. People scurried throughout town bouncing between the fresh herbs at the produce stands, buying several kilograms of chicken at the butcher or simply purchasing flowers and wine for their host families. In Florida, the rush for Rosh Hashanah doesn't exist. Grocery stores may put up a small section of Manischewitz wine and a couple jars of honey, but that doesn't compare to a city devoted to its holiday. 

Yom Kippur left me speechless. Though I have experienced Tel Aviv closing for Shabbat, I was neither aware nor ready for Yom Kippur's power. After eating the seudah mafseket, we journeyed onto the streets; yet, as we turned onto Ha'aliyah, I was shocked. Families were strolling on the street, kids on bikes and dogs controlled the flow of the traffic along Ha'aliyah as Yom Kippur's tradition was honored. I counted two cars driving during our entire excursion, not including the couple of police cars that appeared on our way home. I did not expect such strict observance of the holiday and soon discovered the tradition is not to drive. Walking around the streets before the holiday the joke was, "Don't get bored on Yom Kippur." Yet as the sun set, the silence on the streets overpowered this comment. The Day of Atonement quieted a thriving metropolis, emphasizing Judaism's influence.  A vibrant city that screams industrialization with brand name stores that pervade throughout, yet on the holiest of days, the respect exists. 


Between November 3 and November 10, I am taking a break from the WUJS program to participate in Hazon Israel Ride 2009, a 300 mile bike ride from Tzfat to Eilat to raise money to support environmental research and sustainability awareness, both in Israel and throughout the rest of the world.  The first day of the ride will take me and about 40 other rides through the Golan Heights and around the Kinneret.  On the second day, we bike from sea to sea, starting at the Kinneret and ending in Caesarea on the shores of the Mediterranean.  That evening, we take a bus to the Negev where we do the last three days of the ride, ending in Eilat.  We also have a (literal) day of rest on Shabbat, which will be spent in Mitzpe Ramon.  Although I've been to Israel quite a few times, I have yet to extensively travel through the Negev, so I am especially looking forward to that part of the ride.


I've been an avid bicyclist for many years, so finding a bike ride that I could do while I was here in Israel and using that ride as a way to explore Israel was a high priority on my list of things I want to do while I was here.  Hazon Israel Ride is one of two well known fundraising rides that takes place in Israel each year and has a large number of participants from North America (ALYN Wheels of Love, which supports the children's hospital in Jerusalem, is the other).  I know a number of people who have done Israel Ride in the past, including my rabbi and a friend of mine from college.  Additionally, after I researched the work that the Arava Institute and Hazon do in Israel, I realized that I could passionately discuss with potential donors why the work of these organizations is important and worth supporting.  For example, throughout Israel right now, nearly every landscape is parched and the lack of rain over the past few years is very evident.  I can count on one hand the number of times it has rained in Jerusalem since I arrived here in June.  But the environmental and ecological challenges that the current drought conditions pose to Israel do not only affect Jews; they affect everyone living here regardless of their religious beliefs or political affiliation.  The fact that I have raised money from people who are Jewish, Christian, and Muslim, and who fall all across the political spectrum, validates that the work of the Arava Institute and Hazon does not benefit just a specific group of people, but the world population at large. 


All Israel Ride participants are required to raise a minimum of $2,500.  Some of that money goes to cover ride costs, the rest goes directly to the Arava Institute and to Hazon.  I originally set a personal fundraising goal of $3,000, which I have already met, and have since set a second goal of raising an additional $600 for a total of $3600.  I'm closing in on this second goal, having now raised over $3,300, including several donations from WUJS participants and staff. 


In a sense, I have been training for this ride throughout this entire year's riding season.  I believe that the almost daily bike rides that I have been doing since the spring will put me in the shape and condition that I need to be in to do an average of 60 to 70 miles a day for five days.  Over the course of this year, I have biked up and down the many hills of Ithaca, NY (where I went to school), around the monuments and memorials in Washington, DC (my hometown), and since June, I have been riding throughout Jerusalem.  During Sukkot, I went with several friends on a ride around the Kinneret, and I have also been doing some longer rides in the Jerusalem area, including to Ein Kerem and Mevaseret Tzion.  The views and scenery that I get to take in on these training rides in the Jerusalem area are remarkable, and I figure the same will hold true in the other parts of the country that Israel Ride will take me through.


Although the ride is very soon, it isn't too late to sponsor me and support the work of the Arava Institute and Hazon through a tax-deductible donation.  In fact, donations can be made through the end of December.  Just visit my fundraising page at http://arava.kintera.org/2009fallride/orentree and follow the instructions to donate securely using a credit card.  It just takes a few minutes and even a small donation goes a very long way towards helping me reach my fundraising goals and towards supporting the important work of the organizations that I am supporting.  

(Click on Oren Profile.mov to see a video of Oren talking about his ride)

WUJS Celebrates its Largest Machzor


 What a wild night in Tel-Aviv! If you thought WUJS was all about learning and working then you are mistaken. Living in Israel means taking part in all that this country has to offer and the incredible nightlife here cannot be overlooked. Our hard working staff organized a party to celebrate the largest WUJS machzor (session) in the past decade. The Jerusalem participants were bused over to join those from Tel-Aviv and the great night was underway.


The party was in a club called Alice, located on the 16th floor, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The location was perfect and the food was hot. We dined on wraps, tacos, and sandwiches while reuniting and catching up with our friends we hadn't seen since the orientation week. Chocolate dessert, cake-on-a-stick, was paired with champagne and dancing. Later that night, our Tel-Aviv University friends joined in the festivities. It was definitely a night to remember!


Some Jerusalem participants chose to stay the night in the new Tel-Aviv apartments. The extra futons in the living rooms makes it easy and convenient to host friends. This night was a culmination of what being on WUJS is all about- learning is not just about what takes place in the classroom or the office but also about embracing and integrating into the many aspects of Israeli culture including simply having a great night out together!

See pictures from the night! WUJS Celebration at Alice

Elliot Lazarus Advances in Architecture in Jerusalem

Elliot Lazarus, 30, Lawrence, NY

New York Institute of Technology, Architecture

Track: Intern Jerusalem

Placement: Nitzan Bergman Architects

Website: http://studiolazarus.com

Blog: http://recessioninginjerusalem.blogspot.com

After completing my studies and spending five years working in various architecture and development firms, (Cetra Ruddy, Chetrit Group, and Trevor Davis, to name a few) I decided to see what my profession is like here in Israel. WUJS placed me in a small firm called Nitzan Bergman Architects in Jerusalem. We're currently working on a number of interesting urban planning and transit projects. As luck would have it, the transit projects are run in English, which not only makes it easier for me to communicate, but has given me the ability to take the lead since there aren't many other strong English speakers in the office. In general, while there are some small things that take getting used to, it's been a great experience. As a Jewish architect I can't think of a place in the world where it would be more exciting to design and build.


What were you doing before you came here?

Before I came to Israel I was a self employed architect. STUDIOLAZARUS

How did you hear about this WUJS Israel program? 

I found WUJS online. WUJS Israel Hadassah

What do you hope to get out of this program?

I hope to experience real life in Israel and gauge if aliyah would be a good choice for us. I living here with my wife and son. 

What are your responsibilities as an intern?

I'm interning at Nitzan Bergman Architects. We're working on some really interesting urban planning projects near the Old City. 

Have you had any difficulties settling in?

At first, I got lost a few times walking around Jerusalem. It's the best way to learn a new neighborhood. 

What did your friends say when you told them your plan to come to Israel?

At first they didn't think we'd do it. When they realized we were serious, they were jealous!

Jaclyn Zaltz Operates at the Israeli Opera

Jaclyn Zaltz, 23, Windsor, Ontario

York University, B.A. in Theatre Production

Track: Internships Tel Aviv

Internship: The Israeli Opera, Prop Shop

At The Israeli Opera, I am assisting in the props department while they prepare for a huge production of a brand new Israeli opera called The Child Dreams. The production is very macabre and will have a lot of interesting but morbid special effects. The production team is conducting some technical testing soon, so our department has to prepare some mock props to test with. I am building a number of mock dummies (the real dummies will be built later) of small children which will be hanging from the grid above the stage. It sounds strange, but it will be a creepy and cool effect on stage.

My co-workers are amazing. My boss worked for the Metropolitan Opera in New York for a number of years. Everyone at the theatre has been welcoming and hospitable, and this place LOVES to party. We had two separate parties on my second day of work! It's very relaxed and fun-loving, and I'm really looking forward to the work that's to come.

Learn more about The Israeli Opera


What were you doing before you came here?

Before I came to Israel, I was working as a freelance props builder (I had just finished making the props for an independent production of Twelfth Night) and I worked at the Elgin Theatre in Toronto.

How did you hear about this WUJS Israel program? 

I heard about WUJS on the internet through the MASA website. Find out more @ Masa: WUJS Intern Tel Aviv

What responsibilities will you have during this internship?

At the opera, I will be working on the props for a new Israeli opera called The Child Dreams. It will be playing in January. The Child Dreams is the journey of escape towards the unknown featuring death and despair intertwined with a hope for a better future.

Check out the play The Child Dreams


Mon 18.1.10 (20:00), Wed 20.1.10 (20:00), Fri 22.1.10 (13:00), Sat 23.1.10 (20:00),
Mon 25.1.10 (20:00) 

Towards Opening: Sat 16.1.10 (11:00)

Before the show back stage tours: Wed 20.1 (19:00), Sat 23.1 (19:00), Mon 25.1 (19:00)
Opera Talkback: Wed 20.1, Fri 22.1, Sat 23.1, Mon 25.1

What are your goals for this internship program?

I hope to learn about the culture in Israel and immerse myself in the language, people and culture as much as possible. I hope to travel the country and see all it has to offer, and to have experiences and friendships that will help me to grow as a person.

Have you had any difficulty settling in?

I haven't really had any mishaps so far, because pretty much everyone has spoken English! I'm sure that when I leave Tel Aviv to go traveling to smaller towns where less people speak English, there will be some interesting stories to tell.

What did your friends say when you told them your plan to come to Israel?

Many of my friends were surprised that I was willing to leave home for such a long period of time, especially to go to a country where I had never been before. Some were jealous that I was going to have such an adventure, but all of them were excited for me to experience something new and exciting.

Re-invitation for Theatre Internship Opportunity

Israeli theatre is becoming more diverse everyday. The culture of this country encourages artists to take leaps in all corners of the stage. WUJS  intern, Rebecca Price, 22, from Deerfield, IL is learning this first hand while on the WUJS Tel Aviv Internship program. She received her B.A. in Theatre Education from Emerson College and with this background she received an invitation to intern with the prestigious organization called EVE, The Association of Independent Theatre Creators in Israel. EVE represents independent and fringe theatre creators across Israel and offers aid and production support such as casting, technical assistance, marketing and publicity. EVE produces more than thirty new productions each year. Currently, the repertoire includes more than fifty different productions. Some of the artists produce traditional text based work in both Hebrew and English. Many pieces fall into more alternative categories such as non-verbal, puppetry, movement theatre, and clowning performances. 

Rebecca works as the head of the International Department representing all projects that have an international angle.  Primarily, she is responsible for researching and corresponding with theatre, fringe, and puppetry festivals all over the world in hopes of promoting Israeli theatre and sending the EVE projects abroad. The international relations aspect of this position is important and Rebecca commented that "Google Translator has become a great colleague in the workplace as I do my research".  On a daily basis, you can find her navigating theatre and festival websites in multiple languages including French, Hungarian, German, Dutch, and Polish.

Picture 2.png

 Click Becky Profile.mov to see Rebecca in action

Rebecca goes on to say "The workplace at EVE is such a great environment. My colleagues have insisted that they are not my "bosses" but instead we are all working together as a team.  It is great to know they have established this trust in me and my work, even though I've only been here a month.  I've already gotten to work with some of the artists directly and I am responsible for holding my own meetings with them.  A monumental moment was when Tomer, my mentor, mentioned that I didn't need to "cc" him on emails anymore. My responsibilities and experience grow everyday.

I also learn while outside of the office. Employees and I traveled together to the Acco Theatre Festival, a festival I have wanted to go to since seeing posters during my last trip to Israel.  I came on this program to expand my knowledge of and experience in international theatre, and to broaden my cultural understanding of theatre and art. Even in the short time that I've been here, I've already discovered so much.  I am looking forward to the International Israeli Theatre Exposure that EVE will host in December. It will be a chance to come face to face with festival managers and theatre practitioners from all over the world.  It will also give me a chance to make connections and contacts in the international theatre industry. As they introduce me to the best of Israeli theatre, I will have the opportunity to form relationships and network to aid in my work for EVE and in my theatrical future.  Working for EVE has been great so far, and I can't wait to see what the next 5 months have to offer."

Rebecca is just one of the many success stories from the WUJS Intern Tel-Aviv program. Her supervisor, Tomer said, "As a result of this trial period, I can only say that we would be delighted to continue accepting interns from the WUJS program in the future". Working in Israeli theatre is an amazing opportunity and with this invitation, WUJS would like to invite others to apply for this same position.

To learn more about EVE http://www.eve.org.il/

To apply for this internship Apply Now | WUJS Intern Tel-Aviv

Field trip to Mount Meron and Rosh HaNikra


As is now routine, last Tuesday our Tel-Aviv participants hit the road for their weekly field trip.  This time it was to Mount Meron, located in the Galilee, northern Israel. This is the second highest point in Israel and from the peak you can see Lebanon. The entire surrounding area is considered a nature reserve while on the top is one of the most important air force intelligence bases in the country. It is nice to know when the IDF becomes one with nature! We even bumped into a bunch of soldiers who were training but took a break to chat and take pictures with us.

After a short picnic lunch, the group set out on their second adventure of the day to Rosh HaNikra, an impressive geological site because of its beautiful grottoes located on the Mediterranean Sea. A cable car took everyone down to sea level where they walked through caves and watched a movie about the geological and historical importance of the site. 

Everything in Israel carries historical significance and this place is no different. When the British ruled the area they carved out caves to build a railroad to create easy access to ship supplies during the war. As the movie said, the Nazi's were going to use the railway  to move their supplies, so the Haggana, the predecessor of the IDF, went to sabotage the route by blowing out the tracks. The tunnels and foundation from the tracks are still visible today which is just a small mark of history on the beautiful walls. Since then, Israel has turned this area into a natural reserve. The spectacular views and crystal waters make this location a jewel of the Mediterranean. 

See for yourself Rosh HaNikra & Mount Meron

Melanie Weininger, 27,Northridge, CA

University of California, Berkeley. B.A. in Psychology; California State University, Northridge- M.S. in Counseling

Track: Internships Tel Aviv

Placement: International Conflict Resolution and Mediation program, Tel-Aviv University

I am so happy that I made the decision to leave my hometown in the L.A. suburbs and move to Tel Aviv.  I am gaining invaluable work experience interning at Tel Aviv University and starting to form close friendships with not only my program mates, but locals as well.  In fact, WUJS is connecting those of us in the program with students from the University.  I am also enjoying my time exploring the many sights and events that Tel Aviv has to offer.  Tel Aviv is a bustling, vibrant city that is perfectly suited for young people who want a rich, cultural experience and the opportunity to meet interesting people from diverse backgrounds. Learn more: International Program in Conflict Resolution and Mediation


How did you hear about this WUJS Israel program? 

I saw the WUJS program listed on the MASA website. Find out more @ Masa: WUJS Intern Tel Aviv

What are your goals for this program?

I hope to gain valuable work experience, develop close friendships, explore Tel Aviv and the country as a whole, and become more proficient in Hebrew.  

What are your responsibilities for this internship?

I am working with the Director of the newly created International Conflict Resolution and Mediation M.A. program in Tel Aviv University.  I am involved in a wide range of duties such as assisting in program development, advising students, and planning events.  

Have you had any difficulties settling in?

I bought a fitted sheet on King George for the equivalent of $15 that didn't even fit my bed because I mistakenly communicated that I wanted a twin size instead of a full size.  I haven't gotten too lost, but I have had various traumatic bus experiences, i.e. getting kicked off a bus because it was too crowded, and missing a bus by a few seconds even though it had pulled up right in front of me.  

What did your friends say when you told them about your plan to come to Israel?

A few friends were a bit trepidacious about me moving to Israel, believing that I may be putting myself in harm's way, but most friends reacted positively and said that this was a good decision that would open up opportunities for me.

Click on Melanie Profile.mov to see Melanie in action at work!

Matt Friedman Interns with Save a Child's Heart

Matt Friedman, 23, Barnstable, MA

University of Vermont, B.S. Pyschology

Track: Internships Tel Aviv

Placement: Save a Child's Heart, Wolfson Hospital

Save a child's Heart takes children in from all over the world with congenital heart defects to perform the procedure in Israel.  These children come from mainly African countries, Haiti or Palestinian Authority.  This organization in non-profit, funded by the government and  the dedication of time from medical staff and others.  Without the surgeries, these children would not be able to live out there lives normally. Learn more @ Save a Child's Heart


What were you doing before you came here?

Working as an EMT on an ambulance and at an Emergency Department in Burlington, VT.  

How did you hear about this WUJS Israel program? 

Internet surfing. Find out more @ Masa: WUJS Intern Tel Aviv

What are your goals for this program?

I hope to make friends, build connections for a job, and further my career development. 

Have you had any difficulties settling in?

I bought Vanilla milk instead of regular.

What did your friends say when you told them about your plan to come to Israel?

Don't join the IDF, Don't come back all weird

Click on Matt Profile.mov to see Matt in action!

Becky Kupchan Helps the Ethiopian Jewish Community in Jerusalem

Becky Kupchan, 22, Skokie, IL

Brandeis University, B.A. American Studies

Track: Peace & Social Justice

Placement: Israel Association for Ethiopian Jews

My internship has allowed me to understand the issues and controversies surrounding the Ethiopian Jewish community in Israel, those who have recently emigrated and those who have been here for years but are still dependent on their absorption centers. I am writing an English blog for their website to spread awareness about the community and am working on their newsletter to help with fundraising for the organization.


What were you doing before you came here?

I just graduated Brandeis University with a degree in American Studies and minors in Art History and Latin American Studies.

How did you hear about this WUJS Israel program? 

Through the MASA guidebook for post-college programs in IsraelFind out more @ Masa: WUJS Peace and Social Justice Program

What are your goals for this program?

I hope to get experience through my internship in social work, and to gain a better understanding of my connection to Israel.

Have you had any difficulties settling in?

Luckily my Hebrew skills have returned since my time in Jewish Day School, so I haven't gotten too mixed up, although taking a new bus is always an adventure. 

What did your friends say when you told them about your plan to come to Israel?

My friends were really excited for me

Shira Ballon Gets Art Inspiration in Jerusalem

Shira Ballon, 25, Palo Alto, CA

UC Irvine, Studio Art

Track: Jerusalem Arts WUJS Arts

See her work: Jerusalem Artist's

My inspiration mostly comes from working, and from conversations with people that have interesting things to say. Being in Israel/the Middle East, of course, provides a great amount of visual stimulation - patterns in the rock look like things I've been painting for years, as though I had remembered them from a past life or something, and seeing that makes me want to paint more. 

The city is loud, and dirty, and crammed with stuff and people, and the desert is quiet and expansive. The intensity of politics and culture is monumental. When you can't understand a language it's just sounds and shapes - It's never-ending here. But I never really believed in waiting for inspiration from things like that, they help, no doubt, they are all part of what you think about everyday. But it turns out my inspiration mostly comes from working, from seeing what happens, and from conversations with people that have interesting things to say.



How did you hear about this WUJS Israel program? 

When I would daydream about the future I would often search the internet for Israel programs, and this one jumped out at me because of the art program, which I hadn't found elsewhere. Find out more Masa: WUJS Arts Program

What are your goals for this WUJS Arts program?

I hope to get a lot. I hope to gain some focus in my work and personal growth, I hope to get a firm grasp on the Hebrew language, I hope to spend some (more) time in the desert, and develop relationships with people who I can learn from and who can learn from me. 

What opportunities are taking advantage of while on the Arts program in Jerusalem?

A group of us went to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art for the opening of  the Sigalit Landau show, that was fantastic. The museum is beautiful and the work was stunning. There have also been other street fairs and concerts in Jerusalem; free jazz at the Yellow Submarine, there is always something, its great. 

What type of work will you display at the WUJS Arts final exhibit?

I paint and draw so my work will consist mainly of 2D pieces, but I've started to work with very basic video, just a little. So that might work its way in. 

What classes are you taking while in the Arts program? 

Besides Ulpan, I'm taking a course on Kabbalah and our Art class, Art and Israel. Both are great and I wish I had them twice as often. I didn't previously know very much about Israeli art and art history and Ofra's lectures, speakers, activities, etc - metzuyan

What did your friends say when you told them about your plan to come to Israel?

I don't really have any Jewish friends in Chicago, so there was definitely more to explain and more reassuring to do regarding safety. In general though, they thought it was really cool and wouldn't shut up about it. As long as I don't make aliyah.

Have you had any difficulties settling in? 

The first day I was at a grocery store, wasn't even buying anything just looking around, and then I walked through the Emergency exit door on my way out. Shame. 

Check out more of her artwork Flickr: Shira Ballon's Photostream

Jonathan Matthews Takes an Internship at PresenTense

Jonathan Matthews, 22, Toronto, Ontario

University of Waterloo - BA Major in English Literature


Placement: PresenTense Group

PresenTense is a non-profit organization that strives to connect and grow Jewish social entrepreneurs.  Major aspects of the organization include the PresenTense Magazine, the central hub in Jerusalem which provides facilities and events for entrepreneurs to work and develop, and the PresenTense Institute - a six week fellowship aimed at training entrepreneurs in the skills needed to successfully launch and grow their social ventures. PresenTense: Fostering Innovation


What were you doing before you came here?

Before I came to Israel I had just graduated from university and knew that I wanted to travel to see more of the world while at the same time getting work experience.

How did you hear about this WUJS Israel program? 

The rabbi that married my parents is friends with Mike Mitchell. Mike Mitchell is the director of WUJS Israel. WUJS Staff 

What do you hope to get out of this program?

After the program is complete I hope to have received important work experience, but more importantly invaluable life experience.

What are your responsibilities as an intern?

My major project at the moment is to direct the production of marketing material for the purpose of advertising and recruiting.

Have you had any difficulties settling in?

So far the only tough time I've experienced has been on the intercity buses where the bus drivers don't announce any of the stops and I have no idea how far or close I am to my destination.  Fortunately mostly everyone in Israel is very helpful so there's always someone that will help out.

What did your friends say when you told them your plan to come to Israel?

That they are expecting me to become Orthodox and that I'll bring back an Israeli woman when I return.

Click on Jon Profile.mov to see Jonathan in action!

Jacob Hellman Takes Center Stage in Jerusalem

Jacob Hellman, 21, Baltimore, MD

University of Massachusetts, Amherst, BA  Theatre/Dramaturgy


Placement: Center Stage Theater-Merkaz Hamag'shimim Hadassah The Merkaz

The Merkaz Center is a multipurpose community center that supports Zionism, Jewish pluralism, and social activism. The Merkaz offers varieties of programs to tourists and olim. It is a place where people can feel at home when far from it. The Center Stage Theater gives olim a chance to express their artistic selves and experiment with art in their own language. This center, sponsored by Young Judaea creates an international artist community in the inspiring city of Jerusalem. Learn more Center Stage Theater


What were you doing before you came to Israel?

I had just graduated college and had spent a month in Ecuador with Dramatic Adventure Theatre, touring, building a community center, learning Andean mask dancing, and working with children and creating an original piece of theater that we performed in NYC Off-Off-Broadway upon return to the USA. Unfortunately, I was not accepted by any theater internship I applied for, so I decided to take the study abroad I never got to have and come to Israel to learn and do theatre.

How did you hear about this WUJS Israel program? 

Fliers, brochures, emails, and a campus MASA liaison; it also helped that a really good friend of mine did the program last year and had a great time. Find out more @ Masa

What do you hope to get out of this program?

I hope to see more of Israel, learn more Hebrew, make friends, and build up my theatre resume.

What are your responsibilities as an intern?

I'm the general theatre intern, doing pretty much anything that needs to be done around the theater as well as dramaturging (researching) the shows, performing in them, doing tech., and working on writing some plays of my own.

What theatre performances will you take part in?

October (date TBA) - Spontaneous Combustion. At Merkaz Hamagshimim Hadassah, Germany Colony, Jerusalem. A 48-hour play festival that I'll be writing for. In English. Tickets are 20 NIS, 30 NIS for a free beer and a door-prize raffle ticket. Minyan discount - bring 9 friends and get in free!

"Spontaneous Combustion" at the Center Stage Theater | Entertainment | Jerusalem Post

November (dates TBA) - The Comedy of Errors, by William Shakespeare. At Merkaz Hamagshimim Hadassah, Germany Colony, Jerusalem A hilarious play considered to be one of Shakespeare's greatest comedic successes. In English. Featuring WUJS Jerusalem participants Jacob Hellman and Daniel Minahim Silva.

December - an original play by Jacob Hellman. At Merkaz Hamagshimim Hadassah, Germany Colony, Jerusalem. In English

January/February - The Chosen, by Chaim Potok. A theatrical adaptation of the literary classic. At Merkaz Hamagshimim Hadassah, Germany Colony, Jerusalem. In English.

Have you had any difficulties settling in?

So far, I've done pretty well. It was hard to buy laundry detergent, because the containers for detergent are very similar to fabric softener. I also think I might have bought dish soap instead of hand soap...but soap is soap, right? It cleans, it does the job. I have a pretty good sense of direction (and a handheld GPS) and other than getting turned around in the tinier streets and alleyways of Jerusalem, I have not gotten seriously lost.

What did your friends say when you told them your plan to come to Israel?

I found out I was accepted into the program via email at a hostel at 11 PM on my first night in Quito, Ecuador (for the DAT trip), after traveling for almost 24 hours. I jumped for joy and immediately ran upstairs to tell the other program participants, who were impressed and wished me luck. Other friends, family members, and synagogue members wished me luck and told me to be safe.

Justin Mayerchak Writes for Haaretz

Justin Mayerchak, 22, Boca Raton

University of Miami, B.A. English and Creative Writing

Track: Internship Tel Aviv 

Internship: Haaretz.com

Articles: How Holy are the Holidays?

          The Israeli Palestinian World

Haaretz is an independent daily newspaper founded in Jerusalem in 1919 by a Zionist group of immigrants. It is now based in Tel-Aviv. Haaretz has four main sections; News and sports, business and finance, opinion and features, and arts and leisure. This paper has a broadly liberal outlook on both domestic and international affairs. It is also one of the largest and most popular newspapers and news sites in Israel. Haaretz Daily Newspaper Israel


How did you hear about this WUJS Israel program? 

I found WUJS on the Masa website. Find out more @ Masa

What responsibilities will you have during this internship?

I am working for Haaretz.com. For two days of the week I monitor the talkbacks to articles: people respond to our authors through a series of messages under the article, creating a dialogue amongst our readers. I allow those that are appropriate. Also, I help organize/create the topics on the bottom of the webpage which contain recent article additions to the website. Also, I proofread a little. The other two days, I work on my own articles, usually discussing Jewish traditions, events or customs.

What are your goals for this internship program?

I wanted a complete switch of lifestyle; after my high school in Israel program, I fell in love with the fusion of European and Middle-Eastern culture. Also, I hope to experience Israel, whether it be the jewish customs and practices or the booming society that has blossomed out of the desert.  

Have you had any difficulties settling in?

Yes, vinegar; other than that, it's been pretty good. There are many English speakers and I can read Hebrew which helps a little. The bus routes are easy to pick up after a couple of weeks.

What did your friends say when you told them your plan to come to Israel?

They were extremely jealous/excited; many people wanted to come/offered to just sneak in my luggage.

Oren Hirsch Helps Others Navigate through Jerusalem

Oren Hirsch, 23, Chevy Chase, MD

Cornell University, B.S. in Urban & Regional Studies


Placement: Jerusalem Municipality Planning Policy Unit Projects

Check out his website: www.orenstransitpage.com/jerusalembusmap


What were you doing before you came here?

I graduated from Cornell University this past May with a degree in Urban & Regional Studies.  Over the summer, I spent six weeks learning at the Conservative Yeshiva, also in Jerusalem, so I've actually been in Israel since mid-June.   

How did you hear about this WUJS Israel program? 

I knew I wanted to take time off in Israel after finishing college, and discovered WUJS while browsing the list of MASA programs. Learn more about Masa: WUJS Intern

What are your goals for this internship program?

The experience of living in Israel and especially in Jerusalem and the opportunity to try applying my skills here in Israel.  I also am hoping to further improve my Hebrew.

What responsibilities will you have during this internship?

Most of the work in the planning policy unit pertains to land use regulations.  Most of my time has been spent updating a spreadsheet so that we can use models to analyze the feasibility of some projects that the mayor of Jerusalem wants to propose.  

What opportunities have you been taking advantage of while in Jerusalem?

I created and have been maintaining a fully interactive Jerusalem bus map that works in both Google Maps and Google Earth, available online at www.orenstransitpage.com/jerusalembusmap.  As far as I know, it is the only complete bus map available for the entire city; even Egged isn't distributing a map at this time.  

I have also been involved at Kehilat Kedem, an egalitarian minyan that meets in the German Colony.  I've read Torah a few times there on Shabbat mornings, and I also led parts of the service on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  

How are you becoming involved in your Jerusalem community?

I'm doing the Hazon Israel Ride (http://www.israelride.org/), a 300 mile bike ride from Tzfat to Eilat, between November 3 and 10 to raise money for the Arava Institute and Hazon.  The Arava Institute brings Israelis, Palestinians, Jordanians, and other people from around the world together to study the environmental challenges that confront all of the citizens who live in this region of the world.  Hazon works to create a healthier and more sustainable Jewish community and a healthier and more sustainable world for all.  (My fundraising page is available at http://arava.kintera.org/2009fallride/orentree.)

What did your friends say when you told them your plan to come to Israel?

I think most people asked me if it was safe to be living here, and then the next question was whether I had plans to stay in Israel or whether I would come back to the US at some point.

Abbie Silber Sings and Studies in Jerusalem

Abbie Silber, 28, Cedar Rapids, IA

Indiana University,  English Education, Music, Masters of Education.

Track: Jerusalem Arts WUJS Arts

Living in Jerusalem is such an incredible experience. The WUJS housing is in the most amazing Baka area. The location makes enjoying the city exciting and pleasant. I enjoy running to the old city a few miles away and walking around the area with friends. WUJS makes living in Jerusalem feel like home.

My inspiration comes from Judaism and my spirituality.  I also take a lot from the singer-songwriter mentors in my life. My favorite activity so far has been doing the weekly open mic nights.  The support from my friends in Israel and the challenge of learning new songs each week, is definitely a highlight of my time here so far.  

Abbie's website: www.abbiesilber.com

Abbie's MP3 Download: http://abbiesilber.com/Download.aspx-

Abbie's videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/silberette


What were you doing before you came here?

I was a teacher in the Rockwood School District in St. Louis, MO and the Music Director with the United Hebrew Congregation.


How did you hear about this WUJS Israel program? 

I was looking into programs after visiting December '08.  I was drawn to Jerusalem and really wanted to find a good program that could help me return. I was looking for a program where I could explore my music.  This was the only program that had an Arts track WUJS was the best fit. Find out more @ Masa: WUJS Arts Program

What are your goals for this WUJS arts program?

I hope to learn hebrew, experience the holidays in Israel, meet great friends, and have an opportunity to work on my music.

What art projects do you plan to complete while on this program?  

I plan to create my own music and explore learning covers to perform weekly.  I play at an open mic every week and will play a show in the winter with all music I have created and learned.

What do you plan to show at your gallery?

I plan to perform an original piece in hebrew.  

What opportunities are taking advantage of while on the Arts program in Jerusalem?

I perform at an open mic every Tuesday night and plan to schedule a show there in the next few months. I am also taking Torah classes, art classes, and hebrew classes. They are all important for enriching my learning while living in Israel. 

What do you hope to get out of this Israel arts program?

I hope to create my own music, perform in many new environments, and gain inspiration as an educator and Jewish musician. I also hope to find myself better as a Jewish Musician and use the inspiration from Israel and my classes in my music.  

What did your friends say when you told them about your plan to come to Israel?

Many thought I was crazy, but the important people were supportive and knew it was something I had to do.

Visiting the Tishbi Vineyard for a Tasting


        Agriculture in Israel is a major export even though most of the land is unarable. Israel overcomes these unfavorable conditions with innovation that has led it to become a leader in agricultural technology. 

Set near Zichron Yaacov, at the foot of the Carmel mountain ridge near the coast lies the Tishbi Winery. The history behind this vineyard dates back to 1882 when Michael Chamiletzk was chosen by Baron Edmund De Rothschild to plant and develop vineyards on this land. Rothschild, from the French Rothschild banking family was a generous supporter that helped the establishment of the State of Israel. With his donations and agricultural advice, the Tishbi vineyard were able to grow and prosper into an World Association Wine & Spirit Writers and Journalists award winning vineyard.

The WUJS participants took a tour of the vineyard and finished with a wine tasting. It was a great way to experience the softer side of the Israeli culture and to enjoy the beautiful rolling hills with good friends. Each glass was raised for heartfelt toasts as we soaked in the essence of Israel.

See pictures from our trip to Tishbi Wine Tasting

Learn more or order some bottles from TISHBI

Harold Hershberg Learns About Law

Harold Hershberg, 25, New Orleans, LA

Kennesaw State University, Political Science-Alternative Dispute Resolution 

Track: Internships Tel Aviv

Internship: Heskia Hacmun Law Office Heskia - Hacmun Law Firm Tel-Aviv Israel

MasaBuilding Future Leaders, by Harold Hershberg

Video Profile: Harold Profile.mov

Heskia Hacmun Law Firm provides commercial legal services, focusing on corporate, banking, litigation, international transactions, Israeli Tax Law, Inheritance law and Patents & Trademarks. Heskia - Hacmun Law Firm is a member of the Israel- American chambers of commerce. This internship placement is giving Harold the opportunity to explore law while becoming integrated into Heskia Hacmun's international network.


How did you hear about this WUJS Israel program? 

 I first heard of WUJS from Amy Gross during my Young Judea Birthright trip, August 2008. Young Judaea: WUJS Post-Graduate 

What responsibilities will you have during this internship?

I am very happy to be working at the Heskia Hacmun law firm. So far, I have visited several of the courts of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, as well as sat-in on an international hearing. My supervisors could not be more supportive and the open door policy of the law partners makes this experience very valuable regarding my own personal ambitions in the field of law. I work with other interns who are from Israel as well as other parts of the world, which a great resource for learning about the domestic and international legal structure of the country. 

In sum, Israel is an interesting place to learn about law because; the legal make-up of the country is a mixture of ancient Turkish law, civil code law, and common law. Also, the Israeli Court is relatively a new system, so case research is done by comparing rulings from other Western courts; this research helps you grow your case knowledge about cases around the world.  

What are your goals for this internship program?

I hope to have an in-depth understanding of the language and culture of Israel; I would like my experience of living and working in Tel Aviv to add to both in my personal and professional life. 

Have you had any difficulties settling in?

Instead of buying Aloe Vera for my sunburn, I bought shampoo or something...I am still confused about the whole transaction. One day I was working late and missed the bus for my Hebrew class, so with the help of a few nice people on the bus I was able to find my class after a lot of walking.

What did your friends say when you told them your plan to come to Israel?

My friends were intrigued and supportive; though, I am the first of my group of friends to undertake such an experience I feel that I have a good base of support from my friends, and family.

Daniel Minahim Expands His Studies in Jerusalem

Daniel Minahim Araujo da Silva, 32, Salvador, Bahia, Brazil

Universidade Salvador: BSc Computer Science, UFG: MSc Computer Engineering, EBMSP: MD psychiatry specialty

Track: Jerusalem Learning

Jerusalem Learning is a track focused on studies. It's a blend of different subjects such as Judaism, hebrew, zionism, and conflict. Rabbi Eliyahu Yaakov teaches us Cabala and helps us to experience Israel in a moremeaningful way. His website is www.lightuntoournation.com

Besides the classes, we are offered field trips every Tuesday, Israeli movie night, group lunches, ulpan classes and much more. It offers the flexibility and although I'm not in the arts track, I participate in an amateur theater play and open mic nights.


How did you hear about this WUJS Israel program? 

Masa website. Learn more about Masa: WUJS Jerusalem Learning

What will you be studying on the WUJS Learning track?

I'm doing Hebrew (level bet), basic concepts in Judaism (Kabala), wrestling with angels, Zionism, torah reading of the week, giants of jewish thought, talmud, israel update and arab-israeli conflict

What have you been active in your Jerusalem community?

Sarah Fortman, Abbie Silber, Matt Goodman and I are going to be playing randomly on Open Mic nights (usually Tuesdays) at the  "Jerusalem Comedy Basement". I'll also be playing the Policeman in Shakespeare's "Comedy of Erros" at Merkaz Hamagshamim in November.

Have you had any difficulties settling in?

No mistakes so far, but during my first trip to Tel Aviv I gave a ride to Anya Kochegarova, and we almost ended up in the Gaza Strip because she forgot where her friends lived.

What did your friends say when you told them your plan to come to Israel?

"Are you insane?"  "Do you have life insurance?" "Can I be in your will?"

Leehe Shmueli Lends a Hand at Hoshen

Leehe Shmueli, 23, Raleigh, NC

UNC Greensboro, BA in Religious Studies

Track: WUJS Intern Tel-Aviv Internships Tel Aviv

Internship: Hoshen - Education and Change

Hoshen is an acronym for the Hebrew words Education and Change. This organization seeks to fight homophobia in high schools, military, police force, etc. Currently, there are two major workshops the organization offers; one gives the theoretical research about homosexuality and related issues, the other gives personal stories in order to personalize the LGBT community for the audience.


How did you hear about theWUJS Israel program? 

I searched the MASA Israel website for Internship Programs in Israel. I could tell that WUJS was the perfect fit. Masa: WUJS Intern Tel Aviv

What responsibilities will you have during this internship?

New projects to send similar workshops to the health care community and direct information for teachers towards their accreditation. I will be helping to research and write grants to fund for these projects. 

What are your goals for this internship program?

I feel that the internship will strengthen my resume and that the ulpan will improve my speaking skills in Hebrew. Of course, what is more important than getting to know Israel and Israelis!

Have you had any difficulties settling in?

Nothing like this has happened for me yet. It is a fact that I have five more months here and it is very likely that it could happen soon!  

What did your friends say when you told them your plan to come to Israel?

Most of my friends did not believe it would actually happen. However, I feel that my best friend was very excited and happy for me and encouraged me to "just do it."

Click on Leehe Profile.mov to see Leehe in action!

View more photos from the Internships

Rebecca Price Gets Theatrical

Rebecca Price, 22, Deerfield, IL

Emerson College - B.A. Theatre Education

Track: WUJS Intern Tel-Aviv 

Internship: Association for Independent Theatre Creators in Israel (EVE)

To see a video about Becky and her internship, click here: Becky Profile.mov


The Association for Independent Theatre Creators in Israel hosts an Israeli Theatre International Exposure every year in December to showcase their work to theatre practitioners across the globe. They offer aid in marketing and producing to independent theatres creators across Israel which helps the community manage their artistic work.

How did you hear about this WUJS Israel program? 

Birthright Next. Birthright Israel NEXT: Get Back to Israel

What responsibilities will you have during this internship?

I work as head of international correspondence for the Association for Independent Theatre Creators in Israel (EVE).  My main responsibilities include getting in contact with international theatre, puppet and dance festivals around the world promoting Israeli theatre and submitting plays and pieces from the creators we represent.  

What are your goals for this internship program?

I hope to get international theatre experience, broaden my cultural understanding and learn Hebrew.

Have you had any difficulties settling in?

No, but people stop me on the street/bus and ask me random things in Hebrew all the time for some reason and I probably look like a moron as I stare at them trying to remember how to say "I don't speak Hebrew..."

What did your friends say when you told them your plan to come to Israel?

Be safe and enjoy! I'm jealous!

Important Dates:

Israeli International Theatre Exposure - Dec 7th-9th

The Holy Days in the Holy Land


The participants on the WUJS Israel program had meaningful experiences over the past two weeks by spending the holidays in their respective cities. Rosh Hashanah was an exciting celebration while Yom Kippur was a quiet day of repenting. Some students joined family around the  
country while others were invited to share the holiday with host families. Many had a different experience from what they were previously used to whether they were on a kibbutz, with a religious family or meeting new friends. Some of the Jerusalem participants took part in a siyur slichot from 3am-6am in the bohemian neighborhood of Nachlaot, a once in a lifetime experience.

Yom Kippur gave the participants a chance to walk the streets as there are simply no cars at all on the roads!  The streets were flooded with strolling couples and huge groups of children on bikes. As the fast went out, the Tel-Aviv Interns hosted a break fast in their apartments while the Jerusalem participants visited the Kotel and enjoyed a potluck break fast dinner.

Altogether it was a joyous and meaningful two weeks which allowed everyone to grow closer to their city and their community. It was definitely a holiday to remember!

Allison Spielman is the WUJS Intern!

Allison Spielman, 22, Woodbury, NY

Tulane University, B.A. Communications 




Track: WUJS Intern Tel-Aviv 

Internship: WUJS Marketing and Public Relations  Internships Tel Aviv 

The WUJS Israel program has taken me on as the PR and Marketing intern until February. My primary responsibilities are to create PR and marketing material that will help in the effort to continue growing the WUJS Israel program in the future.  This may involve speaking and presenting to potential applicants, photographing and recording video of the program in action, creating material for the website and more.

How did you hear about this WUJS Israel program? 

My mom gave me a MASA cd she received while in Israel. I knew I wanted a program that would give me structure with a good balance of freedom. 

Find out more @ Masa: WUJS Intern Tel Aviv

What responsibilities will you have during this internship?

I am constantly taking pictures and writing articles about my peers on the program. I am also finding new and innovative ways to get the WUJS Israel name out there so other people like me, who aren't ready to settle down or want an amazing travel experience, can learn about this program.

What are your goals for this internship program?

My goals are to build bridges with the Jewish community here and with the international Jewish organizations such as the ones that are giving me this opportunity. I also want to travel and have a great time with my friends! 

Have you had any difficulties settling in?

The language barrier is not hard but actually entertaining. I was staying on a kibbutz for a music festival where everyone had to share a hose for water. A guy was brushing his teeth and said something in hebrew but I didn't understand so I walked past him and I got soaked! He said, "I told you it would splash everywhere," and I said, "I didn't understand you!" 

What did your friends say when you told them your plan to come to Israel?

Everyone is jealous! They say, "I am glad you are loving it but the deal was that you have to come home" or "When is a good week to visit". I respond by saying every week in Israel is a good week! 

Lisa Heller Studies Israel and its Societies

Lisa Heller, 28, Hollywood, FL

Florida State University, BS in Communication Studies

Track: WUJS Jerusalem Learning Jerusalem Learning



What were you doing before you came to Israel?

Before I came on WUJS, I was working in sales at a technology company in South Florida. I was also working with Birthright Israel NEXT as a fellow, planning events for Jewish 20-somethings in Miami/Ft. Lauderdale/Palm Beach. Birthright Israel NEXT gave me the opportunity to staff a Birthright Israel trip in March, and I didn't want to leave Israel. In July, when my nephew was born, I was filling in for my sister-in-law at her job in a Forensic Accounting Firm, where I was the office manager.

How did you hear about this WUJS Israel program? 

I saw WUJS in the MASA guide, and I spoke with an alumni. It wasn't until I saw that WUJS was a Young Judaea program that I became truly interested. I grew up in YJ going to Camp Judaea and I didn't have a chance to go on Year Course, something I always regretted.. Find out more @ Masa: WUJS Jerusalem Learning

What are your goals while on this program?

I hope that I will learn to speak Hebrew, and also get a sense of personal growth so that I know what I want when I go back to the United States.

Have you had any difficulty settling in?

I have gotten lost every time I step outside of the apartment alone. Also I can't figure out the bus system for the life of me, so I take a taxi everywhere I go.

Have you purchased a wrong item because of the language barrier? 

I keep buying different peanut butters hoping to find the best one. So far I haven't found it yet I have 4 jars of peanut butter in the kitchen. I am just going to have my Mom send me some from the States.

What did your friends say when you told them your plan to come to Israel?

All of my friends were jealous because they have to wake up and go to work every morning.

Amanda Jonat, NY, Peace and Social Justice

Amanda Jonat, 21, White Plains, NY

University of Cincinnati: College Conservatory of Music, BA Music, minor Judaic Studies

Location: Jerusalem

Track: WUJS Peace and Social Justice  Peace & Social Justice 

Amanda J.jpg

How did you hear about this WUJS Israel program? 

From the Masa website. Find out more @ Masa: WUJS Intern Tel Aviv

What are your goals for this internship program?

I hope to  become fluent, or close to fluent, in hebrew conversation skills. I want to learn about social issues in Israel and their possible resolutions.

What did your friends say when you told them your plan to come to Israel?

They either said "I'm so jealous! Have an amazing time! I'll come visit you!" or... "why do you go to Israel all the time? Isn't it dangerous?!"

Spencer Marlin, 23, New York, NY

Ramapo College of New Jersey/ B.S. in Business Administration

Track: WUJS Intern Tel-Aviv Internships Tel Aviv

Internship: Tel-Aviv University Development of Public Affairs Division


Tel Aviv University is the largest university in Israel. The Development of Public Affairs Division specializes in raising funds and cultivating donor relations, publishing TAU Reviews and other promotional materials, and organizing major conferences and events. TAU - Development and Public Affairs Division

How did you hear about this WUJS Israel program? 

I know someone who did WUJS while it was still in Arad and recommended the program to me.

What responsibilities will you have during this internship?

I am working in the public affairs department helping the university figure out the best ways to pull in donors. During the past few years, the universities in Israel have lost a lot of funding and are in great need of money so it is important that I help fundraise to save the higher educational programs of Israel.

What are your goals for this internship program?

I hope to develop my Hebrew skills, make friends, and have fun.

Have you had any difficulties settling in?

Not yet.

What did your friends say when you told them your plan to come to Israel?

They told me to have fun!

View more photos from the Internships