Masa Israel broadens study-abroad options

Many college students have romantic notions of studying abroad in places like Italy or France, but Aaron White found himself at Tel Aviv University thanks to Masa Israel Journey, a program that connects young Jewish adults with study-abroad, internship and volunteer opportunities in Israel.   

“I got to see how another culture lives and witness firsthand the complicated and sometimes quixotic attempts at politics that define Israel and its neighbors,” said White, who grew up near Palm Springs and now works for a think tank in Oakland. 

These days, though, students are flocking to the Holy Land out of more than an interest in the central role it has played in Jewish culture, history and current events. Yonatan Barkan, director of academic affairs for Masa Israel Journey, sees the nation’s rise as a global hotbed for technological, medical and scientific innovation as being the next draw for young adults ages 18-30. “Israel today is a crossroads of professional, academic and personal opportunities,” he said. “Israel [has much to offer] undergraduate students, grad students and young professionals who want to leverage its business culture and booming tech scene in order to get experience they can’t get anywhere else.”

Within the past year, Masa Israel (

Israel internships

For colleges graduates, landing the dream job has become even more difficult in these recent economically challenging years. Also, going straight from college into a job may not seem the most attractive prospect. Many grads want to travel, but the need for money sends most straight into their careers. 

What if you could do both? Spreading your wings and working abroad at the same time is a feasible option. For college graduates looking for short-term, professional experiences away from home, Israel has always been a fruitful source of opportunities.

With a wide range of internship programs available to build up your résumé while living in a completely new and exotic culture, there isn’t much you can’t do in the Jewish state. 


The Hamilton Fellowship

The Hamilton Fellowship was specifically created for high-achieving Jewish college students and college graduates who want to expand their business skills, build a marketable résumé and learn the intricacies of day-to-day operations in emerging international markets.

The fellowship offers a placement in Buenos Aires, Argentina, commonly referred to as the Paris of Latin America.

Buenos Aires has the third-largest Jewish population in the world behind Jerusalem and New York City. Although the community is large, it is extremely close-knit, and you will meet like-minded Jews from all over the world and have the opportunity to attend meetings at the Buenos Aires office of the world’s largest Jewish student organization.

For more information, visit


Israel Way-Oranim

Founded in 1986 as a travel company geared toward the young Jewish traveler, Israel Way-Oranim offers graduates a multitude of opportunities.

Oranim’s Tel Aviv Internship Experience allows you to spend five months in Tel Aviv, where graduates are exposed to new career opportunities. Internships are available in almost all career paths, including business, technology, finance, arts, sports, communications, politics and education. Receive hands-on guidance and practical training while working on several important projects. Essentially, you will bypass the American tradition of working your way up from the mailroom and instead experience the Israeli way, where on day one you’re treated as though you’ve already been working there for years.

Oranim also offers short-term and summer internships in Israel for students and professionals of all ages. An internship placement coordinator will work with you to build the ideal experience. Internships are available for two months and longer, and in every field. All graduates of the short-term Internship Experience will, upon completion of internships, receive a certificate of accomplishment from Oranim and their supervisor.

The Israel Way-Oranim project also includes other programs such as See Galilee, a program aimed at young Jewish leaders who are concerned about social issues in Israel, and the TOV program, which combines an internship with volunteering experience.

For more information, visit


Masa Israel Journey

Masa Israel Journey offers university graduates and young professionals more than 200 internship, academic and career development opportunities all over Israel, lasting from five to 12 months. 

Real Life Israel offers a five-month immersion and interning program in Jerusalem. The program includes Hebrew-language learning, countrywide tours and local activities in addition to your choice of top-level internships. The program is designed to give you an authentic experience of life in Israel.

Career Israel is a five-month professional internship program open to college graduates from all over the world, offering you an online database of more than 500 internship opportunities.

Choose from a variety of internship opportunities and gain the knowledge, skills and experience you need to be competitive in today’s global economy.

For more information, visit



OTZMA is a 10-month program divided into three parts. In the first part, you join an absorption center with other immigrants, where you learn Hebrew, volunteer, get to know fellow participants and take part in educational seminars. In the second part, you  participate in community service. 

In the final part, you intern for top Israeli service organizations in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, living in the centre of Tel Aviv or at campus apartments in Jerusalem at Hebrew University. During this stage of the program, each participant will work in a top-level NGO that is dedicated to making real change.

In addition to the 10-month program, OTZMA has launched a new five-month program for 20- to 30-year-old Jewish adults. 

With the OTZMA Leadership Scholarship, the program can be experienced starting at $1,000. OTZMA’s next program begins Jan. 22, 2013. 

For more information, visit


WUJS Israel — Intern Tel Aviv or Jerusalem

WUJS Israel is a five-month post-college program that offers the ultimate Israel experience for Jewish young adults from around the world. The program is based in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. WUJS Israel allows graduates the opportunity to intern with one of Israel’s leading companies or NGOs, with the additional benefits of a regular Hebrew-language course, weekly field trips, overnight hikes, meetings with Israeli peers and a variety of fun and enriching activities. Participants on WUJS Intern Tel Aviv are required to intern 25 to 30 hours a week.

There are internships available in startups, finance, high-tech, arts and culture, science and medicine as well as museums.

For more information, visit

Putting Heart

The rabbis-in-training were making the rounds at UCLA Medical Center. They stopped at bedsides to chat with patients, to inquire about their needs, to offer prayer and consolation. Then, unexpectedly, the sight of wires, tubes and surgical dressings took its toll. One student rabbi fainted.

Clearly, rabbis are not always at ease in a hospital setting, nor are they always knowledgeable about today’s medical practices. But for spiritual comfort in time of crisis, even the not-very-religious frequently turn to their rabbis.

A unique program at Hebrew Union College brings rabbinical students into the world of medicine so that they can better serve their future congregants. HUC’s chaplaincy training program, partially funded by a grant from Mr. and Mrs. Irving Kalsman, provides for student internships in hospitals throughout Southern California. The program’s innovative centerpiece is a one-semester course in which Dr. William Cutter (assisted this year by Rabbi Alan Henkin) uses Jewish texts to talk philosophically about illness and then brings students into the hospital to see for themselves what healing is all about.

The carefully selected student rabbis meet with doctors, make hospital rounds to visit patients, then keep personal journals of what they’ve learned.

“This class is a place where they really lose their innocence,” said Cutter, professor of education and literature at HUC and a rabbi, “and that is a wonderful thing.”

Some of the students (two men and five women) believe that, as ordained rabbis, they might gravitate toward a hospital chaplain’s post. Others have signed on as a way of countering painful memories.

“It was a chance for me to face reality,” said Daniel Treiser, who, as a boy, coped with his father’s heart attack. “I knew it was there, and I knew I wasn’t comfortable with it.”

Recognizing how much harder it is for a rabbi to help with healing than with celebration, Miriam Cotzin summed up a common view: “It’s about learning how to really be present for people in difficult and challenging moments.”

During the semester, these student rabbis have gained practical insight into the mitzvah of bikur holim (visiting the sick). Karen Shahon, who, as an HUC chaplaincy intern, spends more time at UCLA Medical Center than her fellow students, has discovered one good way to interact with the seriously ill: “It’s not always what you say but what you don’t say. The silent times really help people.”

While focusing on the illness of others, the students also gain new understanding of themselves. At the first session, the Rev. David Myler, head chaplain at UCLA Medical Center, warned the students that “it’s very important to learn what gets triggered in you and what kind of things push your buttons.”

Later, after a first round of visits to sickbeds, Susan Lippe wrote in her journal, “I need to learn to control my tears.” Fortunately, none of this semester’s student rabbis has fainted at the sight of blood and tubes. When Lippe recently spent an afternoon in the ICU, comforting a seriously ill patient and his loved ones, her main problem was that “it was hard to suppress my curiosity and be present only for the family.”

An important part of the HUC course is the informal lectures by top medical professionals. Dr. Leslie Eber, a cardiologist who has treated Cutter (who has had several major heart attacks), gave the students an in-depth look at heart disease. He then brought home to them the crucial importance of the rabbi within the healing process. When Eber’s own 90-year-old mother was recently hospitalized, a visit from a young female rabbi made all the difference. “It was like a beautiful, warm wind that came through that room. It helped her turn the corner emotionally.”

By the same token, in this era of HMO’s and medical cutbacks, the rabbi must take up the slack for doctors who are too angry and confused to pay attention to a patient’s emotional state. Eber told the rabbis-to-be: “We need you because we’re not doing our job anymore. We’re treating people on conveyor belts. I don’t think people are getting bad care. I think they’re getting heartless care.”

It’s the rabbis, then, who need to put heart back into the medical system.

Karen Shahon, an HUC chaplaincy intern, talks with a patient at UCLA Medical Center. Photo by Peter Halmagyi