Exploring my Israeli Identity in Israel

My name is Netta Gal-Oz and I am from Palo Alto, California. I went to the University of California, Davis, and studied Communication and Psychology. I graduated two quarters early and decided that I wanted to try out living in Israel. Being Israeli-born and having moved back and forth a couple of times, I have struggled with being too Israeli in America, and too American in Israel. I worked closely with Hillel at my university, both as an intern and on the board of directors, was in a Jewish sorority, and started up a Muslim-Jewish coalition on campus. I went to many advocacy conferences for Israel, and I felt as if I was not sure where I belonged. I decided to try to live in Israel, on my own, without my parents, as an adult. But I also wanted to work and improve my resume – which is why Career Israel was the perfect program for me.

I intern at Tel Aviv University as a research assistant in the Child Clinical Psychology lab. I work on multiple researches. I help administer surveys, plug in coding, and do background research. Once a week, I also volunteer at a PDD preschool – a preschool for autistic children.

I wanted this internship because I want to go to graduate school in clinical psychology, and I knew that having more research experience would be beneficial. What I did not expect was enjoying working with autistic children. This part of the internship was offered to me by my supervisor and at first I was very skeptical. But it has become the day I look forward to most, and if I cannot come in on my usual day – because of a program trip or seminar, I move things around in order to come in on a different day. I have found immense passion for the children and an interest in child clinical psychology. So much so, that I am considering applying to child clinical psychology as opposed to adult.

The program itself has been fantastic as well. We have had engaging seminars and fascinating trips throughout Israel, learning about the culture, politics, and geography. I cannot say what my favorite trip has been because they have all been so amazing. The North Trip had extremely fun aspects as well as difficult hikes and beautiful scenery – definitely my favorite scenery so far. The Ein Gedi trip was fun because we got to see the Dead Sea – and I had never been.

I think I would have to say that the Negev trip was my favorite – not because of the hiking-because carrying those three liters of water killed my back. But because of the experiences and knowledge I gained, and the one most unique experience I had – which I hope to carry with me forever. We were hiking at 4 in the morning in the desert, and it was raining (sounds miserable, right?) and it was very cold and the tour leader told us to all separate and sit alone and meditate for 10 minutes. At first I thought – I’m freezing cold, it’s pitch black darkness in the desert, and it’s raining on me.  Sitting around for 10 minutes sounds awful. But then, I sat – and it was so peaceful and quiet and barren. And out of the silence came the Moazin, the Muslim call to prayer, from a hill just beyond our path. A minute later, a different call to prayer started playing from the behind the hill to our left. Sitting in Israel, in the desert, and being surrounded by this spiritual moment was the most touching, incredible thing.

I would recommend this experience to anyone and everyone. Career Israel has taught me so much about myself, and has helped me grow and blossom in the direction of the person I want to be. It has helped me experience Israel in many of its shades, showing all kinds of opinions and information, painting a full picture of this tiny, fascinating country.

Thank you to Masa for helping fund these trips and allowing so many of us to get an amazing experience in this country.

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