20 Mar In Israel, Where She Was ‘Meant to Be’
In Israel, Where She Was 'Meant to Be'
Mallory made Aliyah from Atlanta, Georgia, in September 2022, after friends she’d made on a Masa Israel Journey program encouraged her to follow her happiness, which meant moving to Israel.
Mallory, 25, grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, in a Zionist household, first visiting Israel at age 14. She attended the University of Georgia where she studied communications and public policy, graduating in May of 2020 into a world grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic. With job prospects slim, she decided to sign up for a Masa Israel Journey program in Israel, opting to be a 2020-21 Masa Israel Teaching Fellow for a year in Rishon LeZion, a city to the south of Tel Aviv.
The Jewish Agency’s Masa Israel Teaching Fellows program is a 10-month fellowship for post-college graduates (21-35) who want to make a difference by teaching English to children in the socio-economic periphery of Israel while immersing themselves in Israeli society.
“I loved being a Teaching Fellow though it was such an interesting time to be doing it because of COVID. We had to quarantine for 14 days when first starting, and during the first four months there were a lot of lockdowns so we didn’t get to teach in person all that much but it was still really meaningful and I made a lot of really good friends,” Mallory reflected.
After her Masa program ended in mid-2021, Mallory returned to the U.S. and went to work for Hillel International in Washington, DC, but she found acclimating back to life in America difficult. In February 2022, Mallory was FaceTiming a friend from Masa who had moved to Israel after their program, when the friend asked why Mallory didn’t just apply to make Aliyah too, prompting Mallory to realize she had been her happiest self in Israel.
“When I started the Aliyah paperwork, I really thought I’d just start the application but didn’t really have much intention at that point of actually making Aliyah,” shared Mallory. “But everything was pretty straightforward and I just kept continuing to move along with it, though toward the end of the process, a Jewish Agency representative in Miami was instrumental in helping me understand what I needed to send where. But I like to joke now that I basically made Aliyah ‘by accident.’”
Mallory made Aliyah on September 6, 2022, settling in Tel Aviv and bouncing between sublets during her first few months in Israel. She considers her Hebrew skills to be fairly average but hopes to participate in an Ulpan program in the near future as she feels it’d be beneficial to better her grasp of the language. Still, she’s glad to be living in the Jewish state and says the best part of being there is truly the people.
“It’s been really easy to meet people and make friends which is amazing as so many new olim (immigrants) come by themselves without family so we end up becoming each other’s family. And everyone here has something in common: being Jewish and valuing living in Israel, which makes it easy for us to connect,” said Mallory. “I definitely feel I’m where I’m meant to be and would urge others, especially young adults, who are considering making Aliyah to take the leap and just do it!”