27 Oct MITF: A Worthwhile Experience
Growing up in Kennesaw, Georgia, a town northwest of Atlanta with an extremely small Jewish population, Rachel’s love of Israel took root early. She went to a Jewish day school and Jewish summer camp, and then attended the University of Alabama. During her freshman year of college, she participated in a Birthright trip to Israel, which is when her connection to Israel truly blossomed
“Going on Birthright really had a tremendous impact on me,” recalled Rebecca. “And it was on that trip that I learned about Masa Israel Journey, and specifically Masa Israel Teaching Fellows (MITF).”
After graduating with a degree in Psychology, Rebecca decided she wanted to spend more time in Israel on a program with other Jews. MITF appealed to her because she wanted to be able to teach and interact with Israeli kids. She’s currently based in Jerusalem, teaching in the morning and early afternoon.
“I love the school I teach at and the kids are amazing; even though their English is not the strongest, they never get discouraged. I was a bit nervous about teaching first grade and how Israeli students might act toward American teachers but I was pleasantly surprised,” said Rebecca. “They are committed to practicing at home and are excited to learn.
“And in fact, they are really intrigued by America,” Rebecca added “My co-teacher is from California so we recently embraced stereotypical ideas about our regions and planned activities around the theme ‘cowboys and surfers.’”
In the afternoons, after teaching, Rebecca explores the city and is pursuing her Master’s degree in Education, specializing in Jewish Education, at the Melton Centre for Jewish Education at Hebrew University. She and her peers also volunteer locally, truly immersing themselves in the community.
“To come to a country of Jewish people having grown up and gone to college in areas with not a lot of Jews, it’s really powerful to be able to now be in our land with other people like me,” Rebecca shared. “This year was actually one of the first times I really got to experience Sukkot, and there are so many other traditions I’m getting to experience here as well.”
As for what’s next for her after finishing MITF, Rebecca hasn’t decided yet, but she thinks either working at her local Jewish Federation or making Aliyah. In the meanwhile, she’s just trying to enjoy every second of her time in Israel and would encourage anyone thinking of signing up for Masa programs to do so.
“I’m so glad I chose to come to Israel with MITF; it’s very different from teaching in the States but such a worthwhile and amazing experience. My advice to those considering Massa programs would be to buckle up and enjoy the ride! You’ll leave your program feeling more connected to Israel, to being Jewish — it’s really so special to be here.”