The Blog

Curiyo: Your Online Curiousity Organizer

Google defines our generation. It has completely transformed how we share information, gather knowledge, write papers, and how connected we are with the world.


It can all be found on Google! It’s AMAZING!! Until you get over 20 pages to open. From there, it’s a game of hit or miss to see if a site has exactly what you are looking for.


That’s where Curiyo come’s in. Curiyo is the latest browser app that combines all web searches, identifies what is important, and creates an answer profile to provide you with exactly what you need all in 1-page. This includes information, posts, comments, hashtags, mentionings, and history from your favorite sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Encyclopedia, News sources, gossip columns, GoogleMaps, Stores/Shopping sites, Imdb, etc.

  • Just one-click needed
  • No navigating through pages
  • Organization – cut the clutter!
  • Videos, pictures, and maps included, if relevant

Who is Charles Darwin? Curiyo shows:

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 4.16.46 PM

And the information, all on one scroll tab keeps going!

Curiyo’s structure of providing information in a fluid format, allows one to learn about the world as if they were reading a story (like BOMAH’s storytelling strategy!) with an organized sequence and chapters clumping similar sub-categories together. The pictures, videos, maps, and personal quotes help bring your topic of inquiry to life, even if you are asking about someone who’s life has long past or about something that isn’t alive at all!

Go to and try out searches like “cubism”, “Theory of Relativity” and “olinguito” (What’s that last one? Search it on Curiyo!)

A Trust I’ve Never Before Had To Realize

While on my Masa Israel Journey program, I decided to make Aliyah. I landed a great full-time job, registered for Ulpan, and found an apartment in the trendy, and heavily American, German Colony in Jerusalem. Last week, my first week post-program, was amazing and that dreaded “transition to being on your own” was a piece of cake, chocolate Marzipan cake of course. Week two came, and it came with my first Code Red siren; a new disturbance to my new confident On-My-Own mentality. It seemed like with the end to my program and the disappearance of a pre-planned daily schedule and the transparent care of my directors, my safety ended as well. All I wanted was to call my Director at Yahel – Israel Service Learning and ask her to make the missiles stop!

I was at a concert outside of the Old City with some friends last week during the first siren. Everyone knew that the country was facing activity that day and while we were all constantly checking the latest updates on our I-phones, we weren’t going to abandon the concert tickets we purchased out of fear of something that might not even disturb the night’s events. Trying to provide constant comfort to my parents back in the states, I sent this picture with the caption “Safe in Jerusalem – at a concert!”


Nefesh Yehudi Concert Old City, Jerusalem minutes before a siren

3 minutes later, sirens went off. The concert was shut down and everyone raced home. The rest of the night was quiet although if a siren went off, I’m not sure I would have heard it over the volume of that heart was beating.

My anxiety about Operation Protective Edge pretty much ended that night. Reading articles and engaging in conversations with Israelis gives me comfort and enables me to be more informed. Restaurants, stores, and public transportation all operate normally, and continue to do so 5 minutes after a siren stops. My Israeli friends are calm and go about their daily lives without fear or worry. No meetings or classes are canceled. I worried before thinking about the situation, because I felt like I should; because that was what I did when I was back in the states and when I didn’t hear about people grocery shopping, laying out in parks, and going to school on the news. Needless to say, I’ve started reading more Israeli news articles than American ones.

Down town Jerusalem, last week, the evening after a siren

Other sirens have gone off since this first one and luckily I haven’t been by myself during them. The composure of the people around me, the amount of shelter-selfies taken, and the sense of community prominent during these times, all allow me to take these sirens as a 5-minute disturbances to my day.

So, what’s my reality during Operation Protective Edge? My ears and eyes are alert, my phone provides me with updated notifications, I regularly call family members and I give an extra big smile of appreciation to the guard on the train. I grab coffee at Aroma on my way to my office in Musrara, Jerusalem and I meet a client or two throughout the day. Ironically, I work at an Israeli start-up that specializes in social media and much of our energy goes towards explaining our Israel experiences. In the evenings, I have been going to Ulpan and meeting up with friends.

I am well aware that unlike many other areas in Israel, Jerusalem to this point in the operation has seen very few missiles. I also know that these sirens are not simply disturbances and that they are serious threats. However, my “keep on trucking” mentality is the result of a trust, I’ve never before had to realize. I trust my Israeli friends around me, the individuals patrolling the streets, and the IDF, specifically the technology of the Iron Domes. Forgetting Hamas for just a minute, I think about that trust and how THAT, not necessarily experiencing the sirens, has made me just a little bit more Israeli.

Me with my fellow Masa participants at Tel Nof Air Force Base, Iron Dome behind us

Me with my fellow Masa participants at Tel Nof Air Force Base, Iron Dome behind us

The Red (Alert) Wedding

“The purpose of the Jewish state is to secure the Jewish
future. That is why Israel must always have the ability
to defend itself, against any threat.”
-Benjamin Netanyahu

Everything was perfect. Down to the last flower petal. The beautiful sunshine cast perfect shadows, the tinkling laughter amongst the guests as they moved down the buffet, the soft sounds of classic songs playing in the background, the stuff dreams are made of. The bride was glowing in her gorgeous white gown as she smiled for photos with her friends as the groom dressed neatly in his navy suit was greeting his friends who had come from halfway across the world. The scene was taken from a fairy tale. Everything was truly perfect.

There was an electricity in the air, an intense energy that can’t really be explained. People stayed close to their friends and everyone tightly clutched their phone as if it could save them from some unknown force.

Certainly a memorable wedding!

Certainly a memorable wedding!

The ceremony went off without a hitch. The beautiful couple was married before their friends and family as planned with spurts of music and dancing to separate the various parts of the traditional blessings. Some loud planes passed overhead and the tension rose, but only for a moment. The sun set slowly over the hills as two became one and moved forward to a new phase in life.

The crowd shuffled slowly towards the tent where the reception was to be held. The clinking of silverware on china and lighthearted chatter filled the room as the guests sat down to eat their appetizers that were quickly forgotten as the bride and groom entered and the dancing began. Despite the situation, people were all too willing to let it all go to bring joy to the beautiful new couple. The first round of dancing finished and the crowd filed back to their tables for dinner and of course, to check their phones.

And then it happened. The cause for all the tension, the reason for the slight edge in the air, the reason to stay close to a phone suddenly became reality as a sharp sound pierced the air. It was the sound we had all feared. A moment of hesitation, a quick glance around, the sudden realization that the beautifully decorated tent would protect no one, a slight feeling of panic and then as if moving as one, the guests ducked under the tables. Laughter, not screaming, the ultimate expression of utter surprise even though this reality had seemed so inevitable just a minute ago. There was no way to properly prepare for this moment, to know how one would react or what the natural instinct would be. It was in this moment, in this incredible moment of combined joy and fear, that I experienced my first Code Red siren.

A friend grabbed my arm and pulled me under the table, and on the way down I of course grabbed my phone. As all twelve table members tried to fit under the table the true signs of our generation emerged. “Can you get a picture? My arms aren’t long enough!” “C’mon guys- code red selfie- it doesn’t get more interesting that this!” I of course was not innocent in the slightest as I worked to update my Facebook status while also trying to keep my head from hitting the table top. “Hang on, aren’t we in a tent?” asked my friend with his mouth full after somehow managing to bring his plate down under the table with him. “Um, yeah. Hence the no running for the safe room.” “So why are we under a table? If we get hit we are dead anyways.” A quick hush fell amongst us as we considered this reality and as the siren stopped ringing in our ears, instead of staying down for the required ten minute reprieve to ensure the rocket had already fallen we scramble from under the table and rushed outside. If we were going to die anyway, we may as well watch the scene unfold.

We stood in the grass, huddled together for no reason other than the comfort of someone familiar nearby and searched the skies. “There,” said a guest, and silence fell as we watched the bright orange light in the sky grow larger as it approached. A rocket was flying towards our area and all we could do was watch.

A second light appeared in the sky, then a third and a fourth. Four rockets. Four rockets aimed at the center of the country with the intent to cause as much damage to property and human life as possible. Four rockets were headed towards a beautiful wedding, an event meant to be the most joyous occasion in the lives of the two people we were there to celebrate that night.

“Wait…Look!” Another guest, squinting furiously gestured towards the four new lights that had appeared, moving quickly towards the four rockets. Boom. Boom. Boom. Boom. Four explosions. Four showers of bright orange sparks. And then nothing. It was over just like that. I stood in the grass tightly gripping the hand of a friend, my mouth gaping slightly as I began to process what I had just witnessed. The Iron Dome and the incredible soldiers of the IDF had just shot down the rockets that could very well have taken the wedding celebration to an entirely different place.

A cheer ripped through the crowd and a round of applause for the miracle we had just experienced as our adrenaline levels began to return to normal. As we turned to re-enter the tent people began to call their loved ones to check in and tell them of the incredible scene that had just played out on what should have been a regular wedding on an average Tuesday night in early July.

I stood frozen in my spot unsure of how to feel or react. So this is what it felt like. This is what it meant. This is what the residents living in the south of Israel experienced every time the siren went off as a rocket was fired from Gaza with the intent of causing as much damage as possible. Teetering on the edge of panic I took a deep breath and returned to the tent and of course, to my phone to update my Facebook status with the incredible story I had just experienced.

A hasty status typed with shaking hands..

A hasty status typed with shaking hands..

I returned home that evening, just an hour’s drive away and heard from my roommates about their siren experience, running to stand in the stairwell of our apartment building because we do not have a proper safe room. A neighborly gathering, meeting new faces and greeting old friends as everyone tries to stay calm for the sake of the children who are hiding in their mother’s arms.

After exchanging stories and a quick round of phone calls I tried to sleep feeling utterly exhausted and completely drained. I tried to sleep. I really did. But sleep wouldn’t come. I could not get comfortable. I kept tossing and turning, rolling over to check my phone for updates, peeling my ears for the unforgettable, piercing sound that would have me once again running for cover.

This is life as an innocent civilian, a friend, a neighbor, a student, a new immigrant living with the fear of rockets falling on me, my friends and my family. This is life in Israel where the government and the IDF will do whatever it takes to ensure the safety of its citizens first. This is life where we hope and pray that the need for violence will end so our soldiers can come home. This is life where the center of the country finally understands the suffering of the citizens in the south. This is life where we will continue to fight until quiet can be properly restored and we can continue developing this incredible country we live in.

This is life with Hamas in your backyard. This is like under terror.

May we merit to see the end of the violence quickly with the assurance that the quiet will endure. Stay safe and keep praying for our soldiers.

“Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror,
victory however long and hard the road may be;
for without victory, there is no survival”
-Winston Churchill

Operation Protective Edge: Addressing the Current Event Through Social Media

With Operation Protective Edge activities on the rise, we are all trying to find the best ways to communicate with our audiences, to provide comfort to these people that believe in you and your brand, and to show them that your organization is on top of the issues at hand.

Why Social Media – Communicating through social media is the fastest and most efficient way to reach your participants and followers en masse. What’s even better is that you have control of the words being posted and you can create a positive and comforting message. This can also ensure a positive association with your company and external happenings going forward. Using social media avenues such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn also empower others to use their own voice and respond. These forums also enable you to time your posts so that your audience in the USA and other countries can see your letter at their most appropriate time. So use as many social media avenue as you can and start talking with your networks!

1. The Opener – The first sentence or subject to your post needs to immediately provide your audience with what they are looking for: TRUST IN YOU! Immediately soothing the anxious minds of parents, donors, or future participants can enable your reader to confidently trust in the words that follow in your letter. Below is Onward Israel’s opener in their address letter:


2. Acknowledge the Issue – With dozens of articles and news stations to tune into, your audience is reading your post to learn about what’s going on without all of the fluff and mixed messages. They want, and deserve, to hear the truth about the situation from you, a source they are involved with. 3. YOUR Reality – The beauty of social media is that we can post in “real time,” however this means that people expect to learn about what’s happening at that moment. Illustrate how the situation is currently affecting your organization or program; maybe a trip went on an alternative itinerary or maybe some people were relocated. Using a picture or video can illustrate this positive status and enhance the your audience’s confidence in your company. Taglit-Birthright does this well! “These days are challenging…but I just came back from visiting groups who are hiking Masada” – CEO, Gidi Mark.


Picture 2

4. Share Your Plan – When a crisis it out of your control, comfort comes from knowing you have a plan in place. Sharing the people and places that you are connected with in case of a crisis illustrates that you were thoughtful and proactive before the incident even arose! This also adds to the legitimacy of your organization and allows your audience to be a part of each step of the process.

5. Be Helpful – Having someone’s contact information can be a huge source of comfort, even if that phone number or e-mail address is never used. Putting your own contact information, or a crisis-specific address, is a way to make the outreach more personal and makes your audience feel like they will receive individual and focused attention. Other ways to be helpful include listing news sources or hotlines they can turn to for more information – hyperlink these websites, including your own, for easy use. Creating your own hash tag, such as #bomahupdates can also be a great way for people to follow updates through you and your brand. MASA – Israel Journey:


6. The Power of “We” – Using “we” statements creates a sense of community and personal attention to all people affected in the situation that are reading your letter. That sense of community also encourages people to respond to your post and to be active in your efforts to further reassure your audience.

7. Specify Your Audience – Your network ranges in level of participation, age, location, etc. and you may want to communicate with each group a little differently. Through your Facebook Fan page, you can target your audience and post letter’s specifically written for them!


8. Be Social! – By posting on social media venues, you are enabling and encouraging others to engage with your posts, so you must engage back! Respond to each question, “like”, and “Thank you” quickly. Special shout outs to parents, like the one below from Birthright, are a way to show your appreciation!


9. Back to Normal – It’s easy to get caught up in posting updates about military efforts or what the UN is saying, but it’s always important to focus on implementing your vision. Once things simmer down, write another letter saying that your program is back on track!

* This is a strategy for social media outlets – engaging with media sources takes on a different strategy entirely.Sometimes, when it comes to media, it is best to not talk at all!

Read more and learn about our social media strategy!

When Words Can’t Describe It



Adding a visual aspect, such as picture or graphic, always connects more with your audience. When a picture or graphic is attached with your story, your audience can see what you are doing, where you were at, and even imagine having a similar experience or story as yours. Before your audience even reads your story they see the picture or graphic, which immediately draws them in and makes them want to know more.

The power of the VIDEO!!

“You see the most magnificent sunset, witness an impactful speech, or capture your friends hilarious joke…but which words can appropriately reflect how amazing this experience was? Enter…the video!”

Videos also show events, places, people, and experiences as they are in the moment, not as a moment in time. Most importantly, videos are a way to be interactive with your audience and allow you to take storytelling to a whole new level.

Apps to create YOUR video

  • DIRECTR. This app gives you the ability to act like a director and use storyboards to organize your pictures and movies. You can even use your own clips and template from someone else’s movie, allowing you to “direct” theirs! This app is unique because it reminds you to hold your phone horizontally and pick a focus point, which makes the video more appealing when sharing it.
  • MAGISTO. Magisto takes unedited videos and pictures from your phone and turns them into edited videos with a title, soundtrack, theme, effects, filter, and music. It pieces together the best parts of your videos and pictures to create both a visually appealing and professional looking video that can be shared immediately.

Yalla! Let’s create a video using Magisto

  1. Download the Magisto app and either select pictures and videos already stored on your phone or shoot a video. If selecting footage already on your phone, make sure to have at least 45 seconds of footage for best results.
  2. Pick your editing style, soundtrack, and title. Carefully choose the editing style that correlates the best with your pictures and videos because this will also determine the soundtrack options. Create a title in 5 words or less that can both attract an audience and describe your video.
  3. Finally, click “make your movie.” This may take a couple minutes, but if you enabled notifications you can leave the app and be notified once it’s finished.

Check out Neili Eggert’s first go at Magisto:

“I came to Israel not understanding how to share my love for Israel with the world around me. Attending BOMAH’s video workshop taught me how to use the application Magisto to share my journey in Israel with my campus, UNC-Charlotte.”- Neili Eggert








How to Spread Israel Advocacy to Various Audiences

[su_intro]One of the first steps of Israel advocacy is knowing how to appeal to your audience.[/su_intro]

Of course, many tools can be useful in pitching Israel to just about anyone: use of social media, sharing personal stories, etc. Careful consideration of the audience can enhance those general tactics and make them all the more effective. One should bring up very different points when speaking, for example, to a person who cares most about peace than to a person who cares most about upholding Christian religious tradition. Below are some examples of the types of people who should naturally support Israel, because support for the Jewish state fits in well with their other values/interests, and how they can be convinced.

Here are a few ideas for convincing…

A peace activist: Israel is a critical force for peace in the Middle East, and has been since before its conception. Chaim Weizmann, before he became the first president of Israel, sought out Emir Faisal (a leader of the Arab nationalist movement) as a representative of the Palestinian Arabs and signed an agreement in 1919 that ensured Arab recognition of a Jewish homeland in Israel in exchange for Jewish/Israeli recognition of an Arab state. In 1947, Israel accepted the UN Partition Plan while the relevant Arab leaders rejected it. In 1967, immediately after the Six-Day War, Israel offered to return all captured land for peace with its neighbors, an offer to which Arab leaders responded with the “Three No’s of Khartoum,” rejecting any efforts toward peace. In the year 2000, at Camp David, Israel again showed its willingness to sacrifice for peace, but Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat rejected every offer, facilitating a violent intifada instead of cooperating. Israel has struggled time and again to make peace with often unwilling neighbors, and for all of its successes and all of its failures, it is certainly a country intent on achieving peace.

A militarist: Some of Israel’s most important services to the United States are related to the military. Israeli surveillance helps the American military keep track of affairs in the Middle East. Many American soldiers and officers are trained in Israel or by Israeli officials. Many technologies that the American army uses routinely were invented in Israel, such as Bradley reactive tank armor, which explodes outward to prevent improvised explosive devices from harming American soldiers, or Emergency Bandages, which prevent soldiers from dying of blood loss from their wounds. The United States military benefits tremendously from the US-Israel alliance.

An American patriot: Since the Cold War, which Israel became involved in during the Six Day War when it defeated several Soviet-supported Arab armies without receiving aid from the American government, the Jewish state has been a key ally in the region. It has supported American interests, for example, through moves such as the 2007 bombing of a Syrian nuclear reactor that eliminated a very serious threat. Around 75% of American aid to Israel is spent in the United States, providing Americans with jobs and making support for Israel an extremely worthwhile investment. Israel also provides the United States with intelligence, training (of soldiers, military officers, policemen, emergency response teams, Transportation Security Administration officials, etc.), and a plethora of critical technologies. Supporting Israel is patriotic toward the United States, because Israel is such a crucial American ally.

A science junky: Israel is one of the most innovative countries in the world, contributing immensely to various fields of science and technology. The cell phone was invented in Israel, along with many medical advances, including the PillCam and treatments for multiple sclerosis that are used by some 70% of patients worldwide. The OrCam is an Israeli invention that allows blind and visually impaired individuals to “see” through a camera that is so intelligent that it can recognize familiar faces and important symbols such as signal lights on a crosswalk. For someone who is interested in science, Israel is a fascinating and admirable country.

A humanitarian: In many instances in the past, Israel has been the first country on the ground to help alleviate the damage caused by natural disasters and political chaos. Israel has lent support to flood victims in Sri Lanka to earthquake victims in Haiti, to Bosnian civil war refugees and victims of the Rwandan genocide. Israeli medics have saved the lives of wounded Syrian civilians who have escaped the ongoing civil war, including pregnant woman who was recently brought into Israel and helped to deliver her child on Israeli soil. Furthermore, Israeli experts work closely with farmers in Gaza, the West Bank, Egypt, India, and many other countries (especially in Africa) to teach techniques in irrigation and other skills that boost agricultural productivity and success.

A feminist: Unlike many of its neighbors, Israel maintains a progressive attitude toward the treatment of women. While the United States has yet to elect a female president, Golda Meir is one of Israel’s best-remembered Prime Ministers, after working to engage Israel in the support of various African countries and protecting Israel from annihilation during the Yom Kippur War in 1973. A law in Israel prevents underweight models from being featured in advertisements, a measure that the United States has yet to take to fight the media’s attacks on women’s body images. In fact, while women in other Middle Eastern countries are often deprived of educations, forced into marriages with abusive husbands, and barred from participating in the work force, Israel treats women as equals so that the percentages of women who are literate and employed are roughly equal to those in the United States.

An LGBTQ rights activist: Israel is known as the most welcoming country to LGBTQ people in the Middle East. Tel Aviv has been labeled the “gay capital of the Middle East” and, in an online poll conducted by and American Airlines, was named the best LGBTQ travel destination in the world. Huge gay pride parades march all over the state, celebrating Israel as the only country in Asia that recognizes gay marriage and that grants marriage rights to same-sex couples for “unregistered cohabitation.” In fact, Palestinian members of the LGBTQ community often immigrate to Israel to escape oppression by the Palestinian Authority. LGBTQ citizens serve openly in the Knesset and in the military (the latter was true far before the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in the United States), and LGBTQ issues are discussed openly on TV and in Israeli pop culture. Israel is unique in the region for its welcoming policies and culture toward the LGBTQ community.

A secular Jew: Israel’s identity as a Jewish state is not only rooted in Jewish religious traditions, but also in Jewish culture, history, and peoplehood. Sharing stories of Israeli culture and the interconnectedness of the Jewish people can be very compelling to a Jewish audience in particular. Furthermore, Israel has made it a priority to protect the Jews of the Diaspora. Operation Moses in the 1980’s, for example, liberated Ethiopian Jews from anti-Semitic oppression. Israel is more than a center for religious Judaism: it is a center for the Jewish people.

A religious Jew: Israel is an important religious center that helps keeps Jewish traditions alive. It is home to many great yeshivas, and provides an environment that is conducive for religious observance, with kosher food easily available, a multitude of famed synagogues, etc. From Yavneh to Tzfat, the land of Israel has long been the foundation of religious Judaism, and the state of Israel ensures that it continues to function as such.

A religious Christian: Israel is careful to maintain holy sites of all religions, including, in many cases, Christianity. Because so much of Jesus’ story happened within the land that is now Israel, there are many Christian artifacts and sites that are under Israeli sovereignty, and Israel preserves them with great care. Jordanian forces, on the other hand, were known to destroy holy sites when they controlled the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Only under the Israeli government have Christians from all over the world been welcomed to visit and worship at those holy sites, and only the Israeli government is committed to preserve them. Moreover, it is the Christian belief that the land of Israel was given to the Jewish people by G-d, and therefore a religious Christian will generally recognize a Jewish right to that land, and often to land even beyond Israel’s borders.

Anyone: Make use of Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets to tell your friends about what living in Israel is like. Post about your own trips to Israel, share the human voices of the Israel Defense Forces, and let the world know that Israel has a rich and vibrant society, culture, and people.

Using these and other targeted points will ensure that your advocacy is effective. Be careful not to rely only on general arguments; always show the side of Israel that will best appeal to your audience.

Vision, Determination, and Action

[su_intro]I am a Zionist activist who has been helping Israel’s image for the past six years abroad and in Israel.[/su_intro]

I made aliya from within Israel this past September 2012, one week before Rosh Hashana, since I have been living in the country for the past three years. My vision was to help improve Israel’s image to the world and I set out on a quest to fulfill that wish.

I was born in the United States in New York and raised in France for 10 years. I wanted to make aliya and settle in Israel because I found myself for the first time feeling at home among my fellow Jewish companions. I have always felt the Zionist pull to Israel ever since I did Taglit Birthright and fell in love with the country; also due to the fact that I always loved the Jewish traditions and customs practiced at home in the states and France.

While living in France, I witnessed various anti-Semitic acts such as Arabs spray-painting swastikas and some Arabs throwing rocks at Jews while going to synagogue. My non-Jewish friends would make fun of me for being Jewish in school, which was very uncomfortable. That experience made me realize how different I am and led me to be very curious about what it means to be a Jew.

While I was studying, I became more aware of the constant media bias against Israel as I viewed the atrocities caused by suicide bombings and rocket attacks on the civilian population. I decided to try to help Israel’s image while constantly remaining up-to-date with the conflict. On Facebook, I have been making new groups, including “Peace for Israel,” “Stand against Terrorism” and “Pro-Israel Activists Unite,” totaling 8,000 members, to help people around the world receive the news and truth about the conflict in Israel. At Drew University in New Jersey, I was the Hillel president where I initiated various Pro-Israel events to demonstrate to students the complexities of the Arab/Israeli conflict, such as hosting guest speakers like Israeli political analysts and Israeli consulate spokespeople to discuss the core issues facing Israel. Finally, I changed the university’s study abroad policy to allow students to study in Israel.

Following my personal battle to help Israel, I decided to enter into a Master’s Degree program at Tel Aviv University; however, I needed more experience within Israeli politics. I became involved in several projects all designed either to help Israel’s image in some way or to help new immigrants. One is World Magshimei Herut, an aliya and support organization founded in 1999. Another is Hadar Israel, a grassroots non-profit organization that encourages international dialogue and a third is the Gloria Center for Global Affairs, based at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center. I helped to create a joint China/Israel event at the IDC to foster ties between both countries by bringing politicians and business leaders together to discuss topics relevant to both countries. In the meantime, I have helped Philippe Karsenty with his struggle to show the true story behind the Mohammad Al-Dura case in 2000 by providing him with different locations to appear as a guest speaker. With his PowerPoint presentation and speaking abilities, he helped to show the world that the Palestinians used the fabricated death of Al-Dura to launch a media attack against the State of Israel.

In order to get practical working experience while becoming familiar with the Israeli political and diplomatic arenas, I volunteered in the Knesset working in the Likud party. I aided former deputy minister Ayoob Kara with strengthening his ties to Evangelical Christian American groups and politicians in the US. Also, I used my French skills to acquire contacts for him in French-speaking African countries and among European politicians. During the second flotilla crisis in 2011, I aided the Foreign Ministry and the Gloria Center and a new pro-Israel initiative called Like for Israel which set up a communications room in Hertzliya to distribute accurate information in many different international languages about the threat of breaching the blockade and why the Gaza blockade is crucial for the safety and security for the State of Israel. Finally, during Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012, where Israel launched a military operation in Gaza to stop the terror rocket attacks in the south, I volunteered with the Ministry of Hasbara. I aided them with translating government documents from English to French while distributing the crucial information to Jewish centers in France.

Recently, after making aliya and completing my MA in Conflict Resolution from Tel Aviv University, I was very involved with the general elections of 2013. I helped the Likud party promote their agenda. Meanwhile, I have attended numerous political and Hasbara related events all around Israel including the President’s Conference and Hertzliya Conference from the IDC in order to learn more about the conflict and make new connections. I have helped different initiatives in Israel including raising awareness of the plight of the Jewish refugees from the Arab world and the peace process using my PowerPoint skills, research skills, and speaking skill to educate students and pro Israel Activists about these particular issues.

I found my passion in life, which is to assist the country in its struggle for a positive public image to the world.

I realized that I have a duty, as a Jew who studied the Jewish and Middle Eastern history, witnessed firsthand anti-Semitism, and is a Zionist who cared for the only Jewish state, to give all of my time and effort to help Israel in its ongoing quest to portray itself as a light unto the nations. I look forward to working harder and longer in this never ending quest of helping the Jewish state defend itself from the media onslaught, improving Israel’s image around the world, and strengthening the diaspora Jewish connection to Israel.

It’s Not Marketing, It’s Storytelling.

[su_intro]Imagine that worldwide everybody can share their own story and everybody can see it.[/su_intro]

Well this is todays reality; we now have the ability to spread culture and knowledge through storytelling online.

The possibilities are limitless and the outcome could be great. No longer will the education of future generations be constrained by geographic or cultural boundaries, because sharing your story with the world is as easy as typing some words and clicking a button. The beauty is that it is your story. It is something real, something personal and something that is true to you. Storytelling not only allows you to go back and recall past experiences, your narrative shapes and influences the perspective of your readers.

As part of my 5-month internship here in Israel with BOMAH – The Brand of Milk and Honey, I learned how to harness the power of storytelling. BOMAH uses storytelling as a new strategy to positively re-brand Israel online and fight against Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) movements on campuses. The best way to fight against negative content being produced in the online world is by sharing things that are positive and personal. I’m talking, of course, about telling your story.

There is no one way to share your story.

It can be as simple as posting on Facebook or keeping a blog. I decided to tell my story in the form of an interactive program called Tour Builder. Tour Builder uses Google Earth to show people the places you’ve visited and the experiences you had along the way. It allows you to choose locations, add photos, text, and video, and then share your creation. Using this program, I created a representation of my life, my journey in Israel, and the work I’ve done with BOMAH.

Josh’s Story on TourBuilder

More Than I Bargained For

[su_intro]It was the summer of 2005 at eleven years old in the back of my dad’s former kosher catering shop that my parents surprised my sister and I with a trip to Israel.[/su_intro]

I was off the walls, shrieking with excitement. A smile from ear to ear. I was going out of the country for the first time! I would get to see my aunts, uncles, and cousins! I would get to travel around and practice the couple of Hebrew phrases I knew! I was jumping for joy throughout the entire 2-week journey.

My parents, sister, and I walked off the plane and almost immediately started the vacation upon stepping onto Israeli soil. We got to see all the common tourist sites, and went to my cousin’s wedding. We had such a great time, but as soon as all the fun started, it was already time to leave. So sadly, we packed up and flew home. But then we went again for my bar mitzvah. Then again for another cousin’s wedding.

Several years went by. I got busy with high school, overnight camp, youth group, etc. I put Israel on the back-burner. But as those other pieces of my life faded away, I felt a need to see again why I loved Israel so much in my childhood. And this trip would have a higher purpose than just sightseeing and family visits (as much as I appreciate those things).

So I came alone, on my own initiative.

No programs to guide my way along a professionally prepared itinerary, to learn history or take pictures at touristy spots (although this is all important too). No, this time, I got to know the people. I spoke with 18 and 19 year olds who chose to drop their lives in their home countries to return to the homeland, to serve alongside native 18 and 19 year olds. I spoke to Jews, Muslims, Christians, humans about their lives, of the joys and complications that they experience. I sat on the beach and soaked up the sun—but not too much, I’m a gingy as they say. I hiked the rocky terrain of the green mountains and tan deserts. I tasted every crumb of food within my reach. I spoke in the language that my ancestors have spoken in for thousands of years. I listened to the music and joined in song. Then and there, I was home.

I had come into Israel looking for a good time. Good people. Good food. Good weather. Good pictures. Good memories. But I got more than I bargained for. I found home. And my story continues…

PS: My sincerest thanks to my family, friends, Volunteers for Israel, CJP, Hasbara Fellowships, Onward Israel, BOMAH, and all who I’ve met along the way. תודה לכם

Not Ashamed; Proud

[su_intro]I used to hate my name.[/su_intro]

I would get red as a tomato when the nurse called my name at the doctor’s office, brutally mispronouncing it (I’m pretty sure some of those nurses were legally illiterate), and I would cry when the stupid little boys in my class–who i revered so much just for being boys–would tease me and call me yi-FAT. I hated introducing myself and even worse, spelling my name out to someone new.

Now, just so you understand, I was a scrawny little kid…there was absolutely no reason for me to be ashamed, aside from the fact that my name was different and weird.

I hated my parents with all my guts for giving me such a stupid name, devoid of all sense and reason. Didn’t they know that in order to get around in the real world, I would need a NORMAL name. I mean, I was thankful they didn’t name me Shai Weener (yes, I actually know a kid named Shai Weener), but still! And not to mention, everywhere I went–with the name “Yifat Hadas Kadosh”–people would know exactly who I was.

My name shouts to the entire world that I am a Jew.

…And I was unbearably ashamed of it.

Only upon coming to Israel did I for once feel normal.

This country celebrated my holidays! It revolved around my world. Now, I’m not coming from an egocentric perspective, but simply from the notion that for a “wandering Jew,” it feels SO GOOD to finally come home.

I am my forefathers; I live in exile, as they did, and once I finally made it back to the promised land, I realized what I had been missing that entire time. Our bible, and, in fact, our entire culture revolves around this crazy, desolate, astonishingly-magnificent land regrettably placed possibly on the worst real-estate–literally in the middle of a warzone. What is so damn amazing about it that actually manages to maintain 2000 year’s worth of constant conflict, then??

From a Jewish perspective, it’s the fact that all our history is here. It’s headquarters for the Jewish people; it’s the one place you can go and without a doubt always run into someone you share blood with (besides Brooklyn, obviously).

I actually feel included here, like I’m a part of something bigger. When I see the cranes up in the sky, crowding the skyline and warning of another building’s reign, I get excited and think to myself, “I get the privilege of seeing it all be built.” When I learn in class about our Jewish ancestry–about how my father’s father came here on his own by ship/foot/train, and how both my father and mother fought in the Israeli army–I feel totally included, and I feel inclined to give back.

It’s such a small world here, and it’s such a young country. In order to build it up, everyone’s gotta give a little, then.

And in fact we have, making us “the start-up nation” and a leader in many categories (which I definitely won’t be able to name off the top of my head right now…)

All in all, when I’m here, facing the rest of the world seems no challenge. Because I’m involved and proud. And ultimately, that’s what allowed this great nation–and now nearly 66-year-old country–to survive for so long.