Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Three locals among 200 young professionals from around the world to teach in Israel


August 23, 2019

Jerusalem, ISRAEL—Masa Israel Teaching Fellows, a Masa initiative in partnership with Israel’s Ministry of Education, is set to launch its ninth year of programming. Two hundred English-speaking young Jewish professionals will arrive in Israel from around the world at the start of the academic year. Three of the fellows are from Oviedo, Maitland and Sanford. This program testifies to the growing commitment of world Jewry to Israel with the number of participants increasing five-fold over the last eight years.  

Fellows will teach English in elementary and middle schools within Israel’s social and geographic periphery, including in the cities of Beit She’an, Ramla, Nazareth, Bat-Yam, Rishon LeZion, Haifa, Ashdod, Rehovot, Netanya, Beit-Shemesh, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv. Over the course of 10 months, they will teach in classrooms or in small groups, depending on the schools’ needs.

“We are particularly excited to work with Israel’s Ministry of Education this year to increase English literacy among Israel’s youth,” said Liran Avisar Ben Horin, the chief executive officer of Masa. “And in addition, we fulfill our mission—to connect the younger generations of the Jewish diaspora to the global Jewish community and Israel.”

This year’s cohort is comprised of a diverse group of individuals. They join the program from a wide array of English-speaking countries, mainly from the United States, England, Canada, and Australia. Fellows range in levels of cultural or religious Jewish observance. There is also a growing number of fellows from top universities, including Harvard, Columbia, Berkley and Sorbonne. Many fellows hold teaching certifications and have previous field experience; some having already taught English outside of their home country: in Thailand, Hungary, Easter Island, and more.

Jessica Zimmon, from Maitland, will teach in Bat Yam. Zimmon graduated from the University of Florida in May 2018 where she studied Applied Physiology and Kinesiology.

“My long term career goal is to become a pediatric physical therapist, but I’m taking the opportunity these next few years to explore different experiences,” Zimmon told Heritage.

Asked why she is joining the MITF program, she said, “since my first trip to Israel for my bat mitzvah, I made it a goal for myself to spend an extended period of time in the country. It didn’t work out before college, so I am so glad that I found Masa Israel Teaching Fellows now. I am so excited to be a part of their mission and I can’t wait to fully immerse myself in the Israeli culture while doing something impactful.”

The MITF program not only provides opportunities for professional development; it increases the global Jewish community’s connection to Israel. Thirty-five to forty percent of MITF alumni have immigrated to Israel with some choosing to continue working in various frameworks of education.

As Yana (Jane) Levin, who is pursuing a master’s in social work at San Diego University and will be part of MITF this year, puts it: “I was not raised in a family that actively practiced Judaism, but this program combines my love for children with an opportunity to develop a deeper connection to my roots.”


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