From Jewish New Year to American New Year

Maase Olam

From Jewish New Year to American New Year


By Melanie Ginsburg

Being in Israel as an American Jew means many things. It means I can’t always communicate effectively with the bus drivers. It means that I can easily buy delicious chocolate, hummus or schnitzel whenever I want. It means I can wear shorts in December because, unlike my hometown Minneapolis, there isn’t snow on the ground. And it means that I get to celebrate the new year not once, but twice.

I arrived in Israel a few weeks before Rosh Hashana began, and January 1st falls around the halfway point of my time with Maase Olam. So the time between my two celebrations pretty much sums up my time in Israel so far. I wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on the highlights of my time between the two holidays:

September 17th: First day of school!!

Our first days at school were a blast. Everyone felt like a celebrity as all of the kids waved and welcomed us to their school for the year. It was truly heartwarming and definitely set the scene for the amazing year that we have ahead!

IMG_3825Students welcomed ITF with open arms!

October 31st: Hershko Halloween

My apartment decided to carry on the American holiday tradition and host a Halloween party for our new Israeli friends! It was a blast decorating our apartment, dressing up, and, of course, eating delicious Israeli candy!

Image.jpgOne of the many decorations from our apartment! Made by the wonderfully talented Erica Lanksy

November 22-26: The Masa Leadership Conference

Hundreds of people from around the world gathered in Jerusalem to learn, question, experience and explore what it means to be a leader. For five days, we attended speeches, small group discussions and interactive training events. Thirteen Maase Olam participants went, and it was an eye opening experience for all. My biggest takeaway is that we all have the power to control our experiences, our reactions to those experiences, and thus, our life. There are many ways to be a leader, but we often overlook the importance of leading ourselves.

12299288_10205530895815697_8340771927142806325_nErica Lansky and Alexa Goldfinger representing Rehovot at the leadership conference!

December 1: Hanukkah Day! 

My co-volunteer Erica and I had the pleasure of planning and executing a Hanukkah themed English day for our kids at school. For weeks we worked with a group of the older students to prepare a skit and a dance which they performed in front of the entire school. Then, we set up stations of games, puzzles, and activities for them to play to help practice their English and get excited for the upcoming holiday!

IMG_3822The students after their performance

December 20-23: Tiyul to the Negev

As a group, we took a field trip to the South to enjoy the beautiful weather, scenery and people of Israel. The trip began with a visit to the Zaak Farm, a private farm that overcame many obstacles to become the self-sustaining farm that they are now. The hosts were sweet – and the wine from their winery was even sweeter! The rest of the trip was filled with major bonding time with our fellow ITF-ers and some spectacular hikes along the way.

1928302_10156233841365408_8729501969702911994_nOur beautiful fellows in front of some beautiful scenery!


From the Jewish New Year to the American New Year, I have had a blast! I am looking forward to all of the amazing, exciting and fun things to come. Happy New Year, everyone!