A Connecticut Yankee in Israel

Did you know that your generous support of Federation’s Annual Campaign allows The Jewish Agency for Israel – one of our major Israel & overseas partners – to continue its vital work connecting Jews worldwide? In fact, each year an average of 10 young adults from our community participate in JAFI’s Masa Israel Journey program, which provides life-changing, long-term immersive Israel experiences.

West Hartford native Nathan Schacter, who made aliyah (moved to Israel) a couple of years ago and now works for JAFI, recently shed some light on this program and introduced us to one local participant: Masa Teaching Fellow Lily Horn. 

Every year, The Jewish Agency for Israel brings tens of thousands of young Jews to Israel on an immersive Israel experience as part of our work connecting Jews to Israel and each other. One of our flagship programs, Masa Israel Journey, offers a stunning range of immersive programs for Jewish young adults ages 18 to 30 from all over the world. Even now, as entrance to Israel is suspended for non-citizens, we have managed to keep our Masa initiative going strong. Whether studying, interning, or volunteering in one of over 200 Masa programs, each participant builds personal connections to Israel, the Jewish people, and their Jewish identity – while also learning Hebrew and experiencing exactly what it means to live like a local. We continue to dream up ways to engage new populations in immersive Israel experiences, and we expect to see additional growth in the coming years.

Originally from West Hartford, Lily Horn is currently a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow in Beit She'an, in the north of Israel. MITF is a 10-month fellowship for college graduates looking to contribute to the future success of Israeli children by teaching English through formal education and community volunteer opportunities.

Lily had always dreamed of living in Israel; her Taglit-Birthright Israel trip four years ago was a sneak peek into a life she knew she wanted one day. Lily loves to travel the world – connecting with locals, the culture, language, food, and atmosphere. 

Over the past five months, she has been teaching English in a local school in Beit She'an. After school, she often rides her bike to the nearby beautiful springs. Lily lives with five roommates (one a fellow Connecticut native!) and enjoys visiting with her local host family and friends. She feels she is making a life-long impact on these children – and in turn, on Israeli society.

"I teach them, and they teach me,” says Lily. “Aside from language, I am able to share what it means to be a Jew in the Diaspora, while they teach me what it means to be a Jew in Israel. Sure, it’s a weird time to be here – but it's also a great time. I wouldn't trade it for anything." 

Lily’s story is echoed by many of this year’s Masa participants, as they take the opportunity –with life on hold at home – to explore a long-term immersive experience in Israel. 

Click here to learn more about JAFI. 

Photo caption: West Hartford native and current Masa Israel Teaching Fellow Lily Horn. Image courtesy of JAFI.