In 2011, luck would have it, I was classically distracted by facebook in my summer class. A small square ad claiming that I could spend 5 months in Israel doing an internship of my choice seemed to whisper my name until I could no longer ignore it. It was the Masa program, Career Israel. I couldn’t help but look into it and when I found out that, being a film and production student, I could work for the top documentary film makers in the Middle East, I was sold. Long story short, I applied and was soon accepted into the program working for the Heymann Brothers Films in Tel Aviv.
By January 2012, I was getting ready to take off for my internship abroad not speaking a lick of Hebrew. My language barrier turned out to be more of a catapult into a culture of learning through Ulpan, which is a Hebrew language immersion course included in the program. In a month, I went from clueless to knowing enough to be dangerous, asking for directions, ordering at restaurants, and almost impressing my new Israeli friends. Soon enough, my internship started at the documentary filmmakers studio in Tel Aviv. I was surrounded by creative energy and the opportunity to learn more about this genre of film than I ever had before. I joined the crew in the West Bank for shoots and saw firsthand how they ran the production.
Though the internship was incredible, it wasn’t the only part about this trip that changed my life. During my program, I joined Krav Maga, hiked for four days across Israel from the Mediterranean to the Kineret, and met travelers from all over the world; I saw a side of the country I had no idea existed. The views took my breath away while the adventure kept me curious for more. In classic Masa fashion, my adventures didn’t end at the Kineret. I made a video for a competition to meet Bibi in Jerusalem…and won! During my meet and greet with the Prime Minister, I was also lucky enough to meet President Shimon Perez and Natan Sheransky, the President of the Jewish Agency. Standing and speaking with some of the most influential people in our time was unreal. That wasn’t my only first in Jerusalem though – I signed up and ran my first half marathon right through the Old City in Jerusalem. To this day, it was one of the most incredible challenges I have overcome.
Now, I’m working as the Director of Film Production for the Alpha Epsilon Pi International Headquarters in Indianapolis. In October, I am making Aliyah and joining the IDF. I must admit that my launch into Jewish leadership is largely due to my experience in Career Israel. I became connected to my Judaism in ways I had never experienced. The history we saw on the group trips around the country, developing my Hebrew skills, and getting to know what Israeli culture is really all about has had a tremendously positive influence on my life. Once I’ve served in the IDF I want to work in the Israeli film industry, make feature films, and help Israel make even more of an impact with the cinematic arts.