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Masa Alumni Maintain Connections with Israel, Strengthen Local Community

Posted on 07/09/2013 @ 06:20 PM

Eve Sofi is one of eight people who have joined the newly formed Masa Alumni Community Board in Miami. In creating these boards, Masa Israel Journey hopes to foster connections between recently returned young adults from long term programs in Israel and to engage them in the local community upon their return. Here is her personal account of her Israel Experience:

Growing up, I traveled to Israel every couple of years to visit relatives and experience what Israel was all about. However, after each visit, I felt it was not long enough for me to experience the day to day life and all that Israel has to offer.

During my senior year in college, I decided to go on Taglit-Birthright, through the March of the Living organization. The whole Birthright experience gave me a chance to meet amazing people and fall in love with Israel even more.

I returned to the states, graduated and started my career, but always felt in my heart something was missing. I thought, with all the problems going on with the economy at home, and the fact that I was not happy where I was working, it was the perfect time to go back to Israel.

I came across Masa Israel's website and applied for Oranim's Tel Aviv Internship Experience. Having a degree in psychology and working in the U.S. with abused children, Oranim gave me the opportunity to intern at Tkuma School in Tel Aviv. This school had students ages 6 to 18 who were diagnosed as having complex and multiple-problem learning disabilities such as verbal-linguistic disabilities, cognitive disabilities, and social-emotional disabilities, as well as behavioral problems and attention deficit disorder.

Besides my amazing internship, Oranim had organized bi-weekly trips where all five of their groups were able to meet and experience Israel together. We went from skiing in the Hermon to scuba diving in Eilat. Words cannot describe what an impact the students at Tkuma and Israel had on me.

Since returning from Israel, I decided to take some classes in Jewish Studies and continue to work with students who have behavioral and emotional disorders in different schools. I still keep in touch with some of the students and faculty from Tkuma and meet up with some Masa alumni every few weeks. Being in Israel for those five months showed me how fortunate I am and allowed me experiences that I would have never been able to accomplish in a short trip.

I decided to join the Masa Alumni Community Board in Miami because there are too many young adults who do not know about Israel and all that Masa has to offer; there are so many amazing programs that can help people who are looking for career opportunities to others who just want to explore their own identity and learn more about Israel.

Many people think Israel is a war zone and are afraid to visit the country. I came back from Israel with a stronger connection to the country and was able to discover my own Jewish identity. My experience was life-changing. It's an unexplainable feeling that you cannot get anywhere else in the world.

If you are a Masa Alum and are interested in getting involved in a leadership role within the Alumni Community Board, please contact Tara Stiel at 786-866-8458 or email tstiel@gmjf.org.

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