Seventy-five exemplary North American college graduates have been accepted to Israel Teaching Fellows,
a pilot 10-month service program in Israel,
to teach English in underprivileged communities beginning August 2011.
Launched by Masa Israel Journey and Israel's Ministry of Education, the fellowship seeks to address Israel's educational inequity and widespread underperformance of youth in low-income communities.
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"With the rise of young adults' interest in tikkun olam programs overseas, Masa Israel is creating immersive service opportunities that allow young adults to impact Israel in a sustainable way while having a genuine Israel and Jewish experience," said Masa Israel's North American Director, Avi Rubel.
In this pilot year, the accepted fellows, 66% of whom are Birthright alumni, will teach in Rehovot, Ramla-Lod, Rishon Lezion, Netanya, and Petah Tikva. In future years, the program will expand to other areas of Israel.
"I knew I wanted to teach after college and teaching in Israel allows me to do a mitzvah for the Jewish people," said Jacob Parzen, a recent graduate from the University of Chicago who first traveled to Israel with Birthright.
"I'm excited to work with Israeli kids because they are the future of the country. Helping them establish a solid foundation in English is important for their success and the national success."
Like Jacob, American University alumna Tami Wolf also wanted to volunteer in Israel following her Birthright trip. "There are so many programs to teach English abroad, but I don't feel a connection to any of the other places like I do to Israel," said Tami. "Israel's future is important to me personally."
Following an initial training period, the fellows will live in small groups in Israeli communities and teach for 20 hours a week. The fellows will also choose and design secondary volunteer projects in their communities.
Ongoing pedagogical support, Hebrew ulpan, host families, and trips will be provided throughout their time in Israel.
The inaugural Israel Teaching Fellows program runs from August 2011 to June 2012. Limited spots are still available.