Helyn B. Reich Scholarship Recipients, Fall 2014

Meet the Recipients

The American Zionist Movement awarded seven exceptional candidates with the Helyn B. Reich Memorial Scholarship for Fall 2014. The winners are proud Zionists and intend to do their utmost to promote and support the State of Israel.

Rose BayerRose Bayer will be volunteering as an EMT for Magen David Adom while in Israel with MASA’s Career Israel program. Her commitment to Israel is so strong that she extended her time there before even starting the program.

Rose plans to become a doctor and believes working hands on in the medical field before attending medical school is crucial to the learning process. The experience she will gain from working in Israel specifically, she says, will prepare her to interact with immigrants and foreign patients at later stages in her career as well as provide her with a different perspective of health care.

Rose’s love of helping others shines through in her outlook on Zionism. “Zionism is an unconditional love and support for not just a nation, but also a people,” she said.

Read Rose Bayer’s essay.

 

Erica BergsteinErica Bergstein is excited to spend 10 months in Israel with the Israel Government Fellows program, affiliated with the Menachem Begin Heritage Center. She hopes that her internship in a governmental office will advance her leadership skills as well as provide new and deep connections with Jews and Israelis from all backgrounds. Erica is active in her local Jewish community in Baltimore and, after her immersion in Jewish history and culture while in Israel, intends to be a resource for others when she returns to the United States.

With a Master’s Degree in Emergency Health and her related experience in that field, Erica believes she is uniquely qualified to work in the Israeli government and will gain insight on how Israel deals with the challenges it faces to ensure the State’s safety and security.

“A state like none-other, the Zionist movement has allowed Israel to be the homeland for Jews all over the world…” she said. “However, it is evident that this would not be possible without the groundwork and function of the Israeli government.”

Read Erica Bergstein’s essay.

 

Samuel CrystalSamuel Crystal has been fascinated by the history of the Land and people of Israel since he was young. Fittingly, he will be interning at an Israeli government office or similar organization through MASA’s Israel Government Fellows program.

Samuel’s love of archeology and history has inspired him to learn more about politics and lobbying, and he would like to work in a related field when he returns to the United States. “I see [Israel] as the land my ancestors died for, a safe haven, and a fascinating window into the ancient lives of the Jewish people, as well as many other cultures,” he said.

Read Samuel Crystal’s essay.

 

Tamara GavrilovThrough MASA’s Career Israel program, Tamara Gavrilov will be putting her legal expertise to good use when she works as a Foreign Law Clerk for Judge Daphne Barak-Erez of the Supreme Court of Israel. As an attorney, Tamara is looking forward to the opportunities she’ll have to practice legal research as well as to learn more about the political dynamics in Israel.

An attorney specializing in Tamara has been an active supporter of Israel since high school. She advocates for Israel  and related causes through diverse methods ranging from legal action to fundraisers to skydiving. “Zionism …[gave me] a sensation of personal responsibility, as both a Jew and a citizen of the world, that I continue to carry with me today,” she said.

Read Tamar Gavrilov’s essay.

 

Lindsay GordonTo add new experiences to her love of the environment, Lindsay Gordon will be working at the Zalul Environmental Association in Israel through MASA’s Career Israel program. There, she will both advance her professional goals as well as attend seminars, take an Ulpan class, volunteer, and travel around Israel.

Since she first visited Israel on her Birthright trip, Lindsay has felt a connection to Israel and has had a strong desire to return there. She is excited to do her part to support Zionism and believes there are endless opportunities to grow and learn as a Zionist. “Zionism is to embrace Judaism; to represent all that Jewish People have accomplished centuries and millennia before us and build upon those accomplishments with confidence and pride despite obstacles,” she said.

Read Lindsay Gordon’s essay.

 

Bailey_MezanThis fall, Bailey Mezan will be participating in the MASA Career Israel program, working at the Israeli Society for Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites. In keeping with her love of activism, her position there will allow her to conserve, rehabilitate, and promote sites that present Israel’s modern history.

On her first trip to Israel, Bailey was amazed at how open everyone was about their Judaism. She realized that we must fight for the recognition of Israel so that Jews will always be able to express their religion and continue to thrive. “Being a Zionist means never again allowing the Jews to dissolve into another nation; for we will never be the same as the rest of the world,” she said.

Read Bailey Mezan’s essay.

 

Hannah SouthworthDespite growing up in a small town in New Hampshire with very few Jews, Hannah Southworth has embraced Judaism and her relationship to Israel. She will be working in Tel Aviv at a women’s health-related organization through the WUJS Intern Tel Aviv program, taking advantage of her background in women’s health and non-profit administration.

Hannah is a trained Doula and wants to have a career in midwifery. She hopes to attend births in Israel and to record women’s birth stories. Hannah believes that learning about women’s care and births in Israel will provide her with invaluable experience as a health care provider, no matter which country she works in.

Hannah wants to spend her career helping to enhance the birth experience for Jewish women. “I believe that being a Zionist today means that I should give back to the community that gave so much to me,” she said.

Read Hannah Southworth’s essay.

 

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Second Annual Layla Lavan Celebrates Israel

layla pic2More than 250 young professionals gathered together at Libation on July 24 to celebrate Israel at the Second Annual Layla Lavan, All-White Night. Based on the all-night festival held in Tel Aviv that highlights the city’s cultural life, this year’s Layla Lavan similarly featured numerous Israel-themed activities. “We wanted Layla Lavan to engage everyone with Israel’s dynamic culture and to give people of sense of getting a bit of Israel in New York,” said Karen Rubinstein, Executive Director of the American Zionist Movement, which sponsored Layla Lavan. “The concept is a great one and we think Layla Lavan can be built on from year to year, bringing in a growing number of participants and activities.”

The evening, which was co-sponsored by Isramerica in partnership with Masa Israel Journey and Bridging the Gap, was initially planned several months prior to Operation Protective Edge, the Israel Defense Forces’ current military activity. Organizers faced a dilemma about whether to cancel, but ultimately decided the event would continue as planned, though with several minor adjustments. “Israelis would be the first to say that life must go on, so we decided to take the same approach and celebrate everything that Israel has to offer,” said Sivan Hadari, founder of Isramerica and Layla Lavan Event Manager.

With the emotions of the precarious situation in Israel in mind, Hadari invited IDF Captain Amir Telem to speak about his experience in the Air Force. He emphasized that events like Layla Lavan bring together communities and should continue despite difficult times. “In Israel, we don’t take it for granted that you have to fight for freedom for your country,” he said. “Every generation in Israel has a mission to protect the Jewish land … [and] our mission here in the US is to support the soldiers as much as we can.”

Attendees took the message of standing together and staying in good spirits to heart, and danced to Israeli and American music all night. They lined up for henna tattoos, hammed it up at the photobooth, shopped at the mini shuk, and indulged in falafel and other Israeli snacks. They also participated in Café Ivrit, a space for practicing Hebrew through informal conversation and games. “I was so thrilled by the ruach [spirit] and pride at Layla Lavan,” said Allie Zur. “Coming together with so many people to share our love and support of Israel – especially in dark times like today – made me feel so connected.”
Visit here for more photos!

 

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Join AZM and Isramerica at 2nd Annual Layla Lavan!

Bring a little piece of Israel back home to New York City at AZM and Isramerica’s 2nd Annual Layla Lavan.

Register now to get early bird prices!

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Layla Lavan flier

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Special Concert with Rami Kleinstein – May 12

Join AZM, ISRAMERICA and other local Jewish organizations for a special concert with Israeli singer Rami Kleinstein.


Monday, May 12
B.B. King Blues Club

 

Buy Your Tickets Now!

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Helyn B. Reich Scholarship Recipients, Spring 2014

Meet the Recipients

The American Zionist Movement is pleased to announce the winners of the Spring 2014 Helyn B. Reich Memorial Scholarship Fund Award. All the winners are dedicated to Israel and are proud to spend time living and working there, strengthening their commitment to Zionism.

 

Amy AlbertsonThis fall, Amy Albertson will attend Israel Way – Tel Aviv Internship Experience, gaining valuable professional experience at her internship and exploring Israeli culture in the volunteer element of her program. While in college at the University of Portland, Amy was extremely vocal about her support of Israel. She spoke up against anti-Israel groups on campus, even when she was verbally attacked.

Amy started a pro-Israel group, Cultural and Historical Association for Israel (CHAI), which advocated for a more positive image of Israel and encouraged engagement with Israel education and programming. The group also worked with Hillel, StandWithUs, and the Jewish Student Union to plan pro-Israel events and rallies on campus. As Zionists, Amy says, we should not only carry on the legacy of great Zionist leaders but should also “remind the world that the Jewish people have the same right to self‐determination as all other people and spread the truth that the State of Israel remains a beacon of light among the nations.”

Keep up with Amy’s experiences in Israel on her blog, http://www.4monthsatsea.com/.

 

JacobKahana_PhotoGrowing up, Jacob Kahane visited Israel almost every summer to spend time with family, including his grandmother, who was a fifth-generation Jerusalemite, and his grandfather, who had moved to Palestine in the 1930s to escape persecution in Ukraine. Jacob wants to continue to focus on community, and hopes the experiences he has and the relationships he forges in Israel will help him define his Jewish identity.

Jacob will be attending Israel Career Experience, where he will work at a technology start up. Though his professional background is in art direction and graphic design, he is currently learning computer code, and believes that Tel Aviv, with its strong startup and technological markets, will be the ideal place to perfect his new skill.

“Zionism will always be about building, cultivating and protecting the state of Israel. But for me, over the last decade, the definition has expanded to included building, cultivating and protecting a Jewish community, wherever I go,” said Jacob.

 

PhotoDespite being raised in an increasingly Catholic home, over the past few years Elise Kowan has embraced her father’s Judaism. While on a Birthright trip, she immediately felt a connection with Israel and has learned more about Judaism and Hebrew ever since, looking forward to her return to the country.

Elise will be attending Career Israel in Tel Aviv, working with a fashion designer. “I believe that being Zionist today means that you feel Israel is the Holy Land and is your home as a Jew…it is [crucial] to preserve Israel so that future generations can feel the same [connection] that each Jew is destined to experience,” she said.

 

photo croppedFor Avishai Schlesinger, anything related to Israel ignites a spark in him. In high school, he visited Israel with a B’nei Akiva trip and later attended a yeshiva in Israel as well. This passion pushed him to participate in myriad Israel-related organizations at the University of Maryland, including a Jewish a capella group, religious services, and numerous advocacy-related events on campus.

Avishai’s professional goals are to work in production and digital media. He will be interning at a production company in Tel Aviv through Israel Experience, and hopes to grow professionally as well as better understand Israeli culture. Ultimately, Avishai would like to move to Israel, and believes this program will help him with professional, social, and religious opportunities.

“I believe that the State of Israel has been the foundation for the continued existence of the Jewish people for the past 65 years, and that promoting Zionism should be an essential goal of every Jewish community around the world,” he said.

 

photoNaomi Weisz’s parents raised her to be very active in the Jewish community and to appreciate the importance of the State of Israel. She knows that, growing up in the Former Soviet Union, both her parents did not have the opportunity to learn about Judaism; moving forward, Naomi wants to help those with similar ethnic backgrounds engage in Judaism and Israel.

Naomi will be attending Career Israel in Tel Aviv, and is excited to improve her Hebrew. “Zionism cannot be separated from both cultural and religious identity. Being a Zionist today does not merely mean to believe in a Jewish state, it means having the ability to protect the significance and legitimacy of a Jewish State,” she said.

 

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Cafe Ivrit Yoga Edition – Alef Bet Yoga!

Register now!

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Register today

Join the American Zionist Movement for Cafe Ivrit Yoga Edition. A Professional Yoga instructor will give a yoga class in Hebrew. All levels of Hebrew welcome. No special knowledge of Hebrew or Yoga is required.

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NYers Socialize in Hebrew at Cafe Ivrit…Pub Edition!

On Tuesday, August 20, more than 30 Israelis and Americans networked b’ivrit at Café Ivrit…Pub Edition!, the first event for ViZionYLD’s Hebrew immersion-based series for young professionals. At this Hebrew-only zone, guests mingled over beera, chummus, and the always-popular Bamba in a private room at Hudson Station, discussing everything from their favorite TV shows to their latest travels in Hebrew.

Participants played sheshbesh (backgammon), the Hebrew-version Bananagrams and even “lechu dag,” the literal translation of the card game “Go Fish.” Native Hebrew speakers guided conversations, encouraging guests with all levels of fluency to use Hebrew for even mundane communications such as introducing themselves and asking for directions. Even beginners sung along with the Israeli music playing in the background and appreciated the historical posters of pre-State Israel.

Many participants had spent time in Israel on programs run by Masa Israel Journey, which co-sponsored this event. Since their return to New York, some missed Israel and its culture; they were thrilled to be in an environment filled with Hebrew and Israeli-themed activities and to feel like they were back in Israel for an evening.

To see more photos of this fantastic event, please visit our Facebook page.

 

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Learn Hebrew with ViZionYLD and Masa Israel Journey

Register now!

Pub Edition Flyer

Join ViZionYLD & Masa Israel for an evening of informal Hebrew networking. Practice your Hebrew-speaking skills over beera and chummus with other young professionals. Chat with young Israelis, and schmooze b’ivrit at the bar! Café Ivrit is a new initiative that uses the Hebrew language to further connect young professionals to their Jewish identity & the State of Israel.
The series uses a holistic approach of immersion and experiential learning to engage and inspire.

All levels are welcome. Yallah, Nu!!
Light Israeli refreshments will be served.

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AZM Brings Layla Lavan to New York City

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The first New York  Layla Lavan took place on Wednesday evening, July 17th in the midst of one of the worst heat waves in years.  An annual event in Tel Aviv, Layla Lavan was first instituted there as an all-night cultural festival in 2003 to mark UNESCO’s awarding it World Heritage status.  The record-breaking hot and humid weather was no deterrent for the Manhattan revelers who flocked to the west side for “a taste of Israel”  in New York.

From young professionals and local Israelis to BirthRight and Masa returnees, more than 200 New Yorkers made their way to Hudson Station on West 35th Street to enjoy felafel, sabich, bourekas and limonana with blue and white drinks while listening to contemporary Israeli music, speaking Hebrew at the Cafe Ivrit, walking the indoor “shuk” and getting henna tatoos .  A very unique part of the program was a beer tasting table, where participants had the opportunity to test “Lost Tribes Beer”, micro-brews based on  ancient Middle Eastern recipes. Awesome!

AZM organizers described the first annual Layla Lavan as a pilot project that they hope will grow into an annual Israeli cultural summertime party and festival in New York.  As they see it, Layla Lavan  will eventually expand into different venues and flow onto the streets, reflecting a variety of Israeli cultural expressions and the vibrancy of Tel Aviv, the White City,  at night.  Meanwhile, one of those who attended this year summed it up for a lot of people when he wrote on the FaceBook event page “To the organizers of this event: This was one of the best events I have attended in a long time. Thank you for putting it all together!”

View pictures from the event here!

 

 

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Helyn B. Reich Scholarship Recipients, Fall 2013

Meet the Recipients

The American Zionist Movement is pleased to announce the winners of the Fall 2013 Helyn B. Reich Memorial Scholarship Fund Award. All the winners are passionate about Israel and the committee is proud to help them maintain a strong connection with Zionism and with Judaism.

StephanieBabcockStephanie Babcock became passionate about Israel in college, and was an active member of Hillel as well as a co-founder of the first pro-Israel group on campus. To strengthen her connection with Israel, Stephanie visited Israel on a Birthright trip, learning about the country’s history and culture in a whirlwind tour.

Stephanie will be attending Israel Teaching Fellows for the upcoming year, where she will teach English to Israeli students.

In the future, Stephanie plans to remain engaged with Israel and pro-Israel advocacy through a career in government. She vows to continue her fight for social justice and to strengthen U.S.-Israel relations. “Branching out in this way, to me, is the embodiment of what Zionism means today: not only knowing what Zionism was and is, but being a part of what it can become,” she said.

 

Chantelchantel Braley’s passion for Israel was ignited on her first visit there, for her Bat Mitzvah. Overwhelmed by the kindness and inclusiveness of the Jewish community, she vowed to give back to it. And she has kept that promise, studying religion and Jewish studies in university, working and volunteering for local Jewish organizations, and taking Hebrew classes at an Israeli ulpan. This fall, Chantel will be attending the World Union for Jewish Students (WUJS) Arts Tel Aviv program, where she will have an arts-related internship as well as studio time to further develop her portfolio.

Chantel is a talented artist, and has written and illustrated several children’s books. Her goal is to create children’s literature in both Hebrew and English to foster positive relationships between Jews in Israel and the Diaspora, focusing on tolerance, multiculturalism, and diversity. “My personal connection with Zionism is one of political, spiritual, and personal passion, and because I am operating from an American perspective, I see my main means of Zionist expression tied to the diaspora responsibility of Israel advocacy and protection,” she said.

Chantel is an advocate of upholding Zionism’s vision of universal values, social justice, and equality, and believes that Palestinian Arabs should also have a right to national sovereignty. She contends that “contemporary Zionism must embrace and work toward the democratic concept that all citizens have a right to life, liberty, and happiness,” and hopes she can contribute to that goal.

 

Pele photo Pele IrgangLaden is the director of Habonim Dror year-round programming in Philadelphia.  He  has been a strong supporter of Israel for many years in both a social and professional capacity. He has attended numerous programs in Israel, including his gap year, which he spent living and working on Kibbutz Ein Dor, volunteering in schools and after-school programs in the town of Carmiel, and taking classes about Zionism, Jewish history, and Hebrew.

Pele  is involved in many local Jewish events and wants to continue his commitment to Judaism by making Aliyah and working in education in Israel. Pele plans to attend the University of Haifa for a semester, and is excited to improve his Hebrew and to take advantage of the diversity of religions and cultures in Haifa.

“Theodor Herzl said that ‘Zionism is a constant revolution,’ and the next goals of Zionism are to realize the injustices within Israel and the world. We must work tirelessly towards justice, equality, and peace to actualize the modern dream of Zionism,” says Pele.

 

Sarah photoSarah Marasco’s relationship with Judaism is what some would call unique. Raised in an interfaith family, she attended Catholic school and was not connected to her Jewish roots. When offered the opportunity to attend a high school program in Israel, Sarah embraced the opportunity and, once there, felt a strong and immediate connection to Judaism, even celebrating her Bat Mitzvah at the age of 17.

Sarah will be attending Tel Aviv University as undergraduate student. She is excited to learn more about Judaism and the State of Israel and hopes to use her experiences to teach others about Judaism’s rich history and culture. Though Sarah has not yet decided on her exact career path, she knows she will spend her life defending Israel and dispelling the lies and slander that are spread about the country. She plans to work towards ensuring peace and understanding and to strengthen the relationship between the United States and Israel. “I believe that peace comes through knowledge and understanding, and that by simply spreading the truth about Israel and its practice, hate can be defeated and peace achieved,” she said.

 

sethmarkinThough Seth Markin’s first trip to Israel was when he was in his twenties, he had heard about it since he was a child. His grandparents, who had helped found Cardozo Law School at Yeshiva University and had been visiting Israel during the Six Day War, had felt very strongly about Israel and told him stories that remained with him. So when Seth arrived in Israel on a Birthright trip, he immediately felt at home.

Seth will be returning to Israel as an Israeli Government Fellow and is excited to learn more about Judaism and Zionism. His program includes both an internship at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where he will review United Nations memoranda, and an educational component comprised of seminars and day trips.

Seth hopes that his internship will teach him learn how to deal with conflict effectively and will help him reach his professional goals when he returns to the United States and begins law school. “Zionism is more than just advocating the Jewish sovereign state, it’s actively supporting it – it is making Israel a place where those who have been dispersed and displaced for most of history have a place to go and call home,” he said.

 

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