Making the Switch from Law to Medicine in Israel

My name is Nina Baker and I was a recent participant in Career Israel, a Masa Israel-accredited internship program.  I majored in Anthropology at Bucknell University and then worked as an Intellectual Property paralegal at the firm Kirkland & Ellis in New York City for two years.

After realizing medicine is actually where my interests lie, I quit my job and enrolled in the Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Health program at NYU where I satisfied the pre-med classes required to apply to health schools.  My decision to come to Israel was twofold: I wanted to gain hands-on experience in the world of medicine and therapy, as well as have the opportunity to shape my Jewish identity.

I interned at the Israel Sport Center for the Disabled in Ramat Gan.  I worked very closely with patients afflicted with cerebral palsy at the day center where they are provided daily activities.  In addition, I observed physical and physio therapies for the disabled athletes.  This internship allowed me to not only have hands-on patient experience, but to learn about therapies I didn’t know existed.  These experiences are invaluable when applying to health schools as well as figuring out which path in medicine I would like to follow.

The opportunity I was awarded through Career Israel allowed me to experience Israel in a way Birthright couldn’t.  Not only was I exposed to the Israeli medical world, but I also learned about religion and the state as well as other hot topics in Israel.  My favorite experience was the four-day cross-country hike, called Yam L’Yam, which I did with several other participants during Pesach break.  I hiked 80 kilometers from the Mediterranean Sea to the Kinneret.  Though it was the most physically challenging thing I’ve ever done, I was able to see and experience so many different types of terrain Israel has to offer.  It was a great way to feel a connection with the land of Israel in a way that listening to a lecture can’t offer.

The picture above is from the day we finally made it to the Kinneret.  I am holding a small bottle of Mediterranean Sea water.


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.

Saving Children’s Lives in Israel

My name is Molly Piccione and I am from Babylon, NY. I studied Exercise Physiology at the University of Miami and came on the Career Israel internship program shortly thereafter to spend time living and learning abroad before I go to medical school.

I have two internships here in Tel Aviv.  The first is in the Cardiac Rehabilitation Center in Tel Hashomer Hospital, and the second is at Save A Child’s Heart. Coming from an Exercise Physiology background, my original purpose at the Cardiac Rehabilitation Center was to assist with patient care on the floor, but recently I have had the opportunity to get involved in research.  I just began a project of data organization from past patients in order to establish a database for future studies.

My second internship here is volunteering at Save A Child’s Heart. SACH is a non-profit organization that works in conjunction with the Wolfson Hospital to bring children, and a parent when possible, to Israel for life-saving heart surgery.  They also provide pre- and post-surgery consultations as well as living accommodations at no cost to the families during their stay in Israel.

One of my favorite things about both Tel Hashomer and SACH is the hands-on experience I’m getting with patients. As a future medical student (hopefully) it is incredible to interact directly with the type of patients to whom I will hopefully spend my career attending.   Also, being in Israel has helped me learn a lot about my identity as a Jew and how I want to incorporate that into my professional and personal future, and I am thoroughly enjoying learning more about modern-day Israel.

As such, my favorite Career Israel seminar was the Religion and State Seminar where we heard three different perspectives of the current situation of Judaism and its relation to the State of Israel.

Saving Lives in Israel

Hello, my name is Maddison Martin. I am 22 years old and was born and raised in Huntington Beach, California. I went to the University of California, Santa Barbara, where I earned a degree is psychology. After participating in Birthright Israel in January, I knew I wanted to come back and spend more time in Israel.  I enrolled in the Career Israel internship program because I wanted the chance to live abroad, gain international work experience, and live in a place where I feel like I belong.

Growing up, I attended Hebrew school and Sunday school once a week until Bat Mitzvah age, but I never really felt part of the Jewish community for some reason. On Birthright, it was amazing for me to see how many people were Jewish around me. I finally didn’t feel like the minority, and I knew I must return to Israel because 10 days did not seem like a long enough time to get to know the country.

I have my EMT at home and have been an Ocean Lifeguard for seven years. I have always been interested in the emergency medical field and.  On Career Israel, I intern with Magen David Adom (MDA) on ambulances.  So far I love this internship! It has showed me that I truly do want to become a paramedic, and I wouldn’t have known that for sure without this experience.

One particular memory comes to mind when I think of  my internship at MDA. My first CPR ever was with another girl who went through the training program with me. It was an amazing experience, and I will never forget how we worked as a team to perform CPR and life-savings skills. I saw everything one could possibly see in that one call. Because of this experience I have confidence in myself doing anything that might happen while volunteering on the ambulance.

Another thing about Career Israel that I love is that we go on overnight trips every few weeks. My favorite trip has been the North Trip to the Golan Heights and the Kinneret. We hiked, met Arab-Israeli students, and went to the beautiful city of Tsfat. Seeing the beauty that Israel has to offer really shows me that I made the correct decision in coming on Career Israel.

Without a scholarship from the Orange County Federation, an interest free loan from the Los Angeles Federation, and the Masa grant, I would not have been able to  be a part of this wonderful program.

Changing the Lives of Refugees in Israel

My name is Lilah Jaffee. I completed my BA in Religious Studies at the University of Western Ontario and my Master’s in International Affairs at CarletonUniversity. I was at a crossroads in my life; I had a great education but was still unsure of what direction to take my career. I discovered the Career Israel internship program by chance. It looked like an incredible program that would help me find my niche in the “career world,” while also helping to build my resume. Best of all, I would get to be in Israel! I had been on Birthright in 2008 but had never spent a significant amount of time here and Career Israel seemed like the perfect way to do that.

My internship is at the African Refugee Development Center (ARDC). I am a Relocation Resources Case Worker, which essentially means that I assist asylum seekers living in Israel to relocate to other countries where they have family. This has been a truly humbling experience for me. Coming into this internship I didn’t even know that there were African asylum seekers in Israel, let alone that they were in a daily struggle to be recognized as refugees or that their mere existence in Israel would become one of the most contentious subjects in recent headlines.

It’s hard for me to pick just one special experience from ARDC. A moment that sticks out in my mind happened just the other day. Since April, I have been helping a refugee family from Eritrea with their application for sponsorship in Canada (husband, wife and two children). We met yesterday to go over the details of their refugee claim and to ensure that nothing was missing from their application. When we finished, the mother began to tear up and told me how grateful she was for my help. Even though she knows that I have no power over whether their application gets accepted (and the vast majority do not), the fact that I gave her family a chance at a better future was overwhelming for her. The opportunity to be a part of that process and to help this family, even in only a small way, was such a humbling experience for me.

From my internship at the ARDC, I’ve realized that I want to continue to work with refugees when I go back home to Canada. This internship helped me find something that I was excited and passionate about, and for that I am eternally grateful.

Beyond the internship I’ve enjoyed all of the seminars/trips that we’ve gone on with Career Israel, but the one that will stick with me the most is the Masa Israel event on Yom HaZikaron. It was really touching to hear the stories of the families of fallen soldiers. Experiencing Yom HaZikaron in Israel is something I won’t forget.

From Jewish Journal: An Office of Passionate People: My Internship Experience in Jerusalem

Life after college is a confusing time.  What are your options?  Work?  Graduate school?  Travel?  These were the questions I asked myself upon graduating from Colorado College with a B.A in Religion in May of 2010.  I decided to move back home and weigh my options.  My lifelong dream had always been to either spend a substantial amount of time in Israel or to make aliyah.  My dilemma was how to proceed in such an endeavor.  During my Birthright trip in 2008, they had explained to my group that there were ways of returning to Israel, but I was not very clear on the options available to me.  Initially, I looked into the logistics of moving to Israel for a year or so and trying to find work and an apartment on my own.  This proved much more complicated then I had originally anticipated and the idea quickly fell by the way- side.

During the summer of 2010, I volunteered with Birthright NEXT in the San Francisco Bay Area.  After expressing my concerns on the process of traveling to Israel, the Director of NEXT put me in contact with a Masa Israel representative who met with me and carefully explained a wide range of programs that fit my criteria. Masa, which means “journey” in Hebrew, is an organization funded by the Jewish Agency. An overwhelming sense of excitement took hold of me as I rushed home to review the program booklet.  After a month of research, I had narrowed my search enough to feel confident in applying for the Israel Experience’s program “Career Israel.”  Career Israel offers both a five month and a three month internship program in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.  Their database was extensive and I was easily able to compile a list of potential internships I was interested in applying for.  The application process was straightforward and the staff was always happy to answer my questions.  With the help of a grant for Masa, the program was much more affordable.

Before I knew it, I was flying to Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv with a world of possibilities ahead of me.  I was still unsure of what the future held, but I knew my trip to Israel would provide me with some clarity regarding the future.  For instance, I had always considered aliyah, but I wanted to spend some time in Israel before making such a life-altering decision.  Read more in the LA Jewish Journal.