Will I or Won’t I Go to Poland

Yes I will go to Poland! (*but only with your help) 

I have been offered an amazing opportunity to take part in the Masa Delegation to Poland! I will be one of 17 current Masa participants on this week long Delegation. The trip is made possible by a very generous donation. However the entire cost is not covered by this donation. Each delegate is required to share the cost: $650.00. This will cover our flights, all meals, hotels, travel within Poland, etc.

The reason I need your help goes above and beyond just 650.00. The cost of living in Israel is more than one might think. I know it is more than I was lead to believe. I really like my program, Tikkun Olam, but I have paid to take classes & be an unpaid intern. Yes, I knew that I would be without a paycheck for 10 months. What I did not know was what the real cost of sustaining myself here would be.(Check out some prices below) Thankfully my mom has helped to manage things back in the States while I have been here but she can’t seem to make the money tree grow. She even worked her tail off to try to get the best price for my car; sadly it sold for a few thousand dollars less than we had estimated.

I am here asking for you assistance to maintain myself here & make this once in a lifetime trip to Poland!

Any donation will be an amazing help to me! No gift is too small! Even if you are unable to make a monetary donation, keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I make this difficult journey through history! 🙂

Below you will find multiple ways of donating to my Poland/Israel Fund!


Able & willing to make a donation~ Here are a few ways to donate!

If you are in the La Crosse area, you can give a donation directly to my mom. She will then deposit it for me and I will be able to access the funds via ATM here in Tel Aviv.

If you are in the Dothan area, you can deposit a donation directly at Servis1st Bank. I am able to access my account there from any ATM in Tel Aviv.

Third you can donate directly to me through Payonner. Payonner is simple international card meant for use overseas. (I got my original card when I went on Birthright.) To load a donation, go to https://load.payoneer.com/LoadToPage.aspx. You will then be asked for my email- carrieann1224@gmail.com. Once this is entered it will automatically select the card. You then select an amount. A reason for loading is required: simply enter anything and if you like you’re name, that way I can thank you!  Then select if you would like to pay the minor fee or have it taken out of what it being donated. Finally click Continue and it will take you through the ‘check out’ process and you will be asked for your information.

Bus Adventures

  • Round trip (Tel Aviv to Jerusalem) on the Bus – 32.30 ₪ / $9.30
  • Single Bus ride within Tel Aviv – 6.90 ₪ / $1.99
  •  Monthly Pass for Tel Aviv area- 246₪ / $70.84

Simple grocery & household items

  • Soup mix – 12₪ / $3.45
  • 1 liter of Milk – 7 ₪ / $2.01
  • Loaf of basic bread – 15₪ / $4.60
  • Healthy cereal (think special K) – 31.00₪ / $8.91
  • laundry softener  17₪ / $4.90

Fun things

  • Movie – 38-47₪ / $10.94-13.53
  • Museum entrance, example the Israel Museum – 50₪ / $14.41

Basic health & wellness

  • Chiropractor (seen every 2-4 weeks due to a squished disk from 2 car accidents in GA) – 250₪ / $71.99
  • Hair Cut – 250₪ / $71.99  (I’ve only gotten one so far to save money)

Having to replace simple household/kitchen items because your program refuses to:

  • Cutting boards, measuring cups, oven thermometer…. FAR TOO MANY SHEKELS

Fast Forward

In Haifa looking out to the Sea

Adam & me in Haifa looking out to the Sea

Update extraordinaire!


Winter break was fantastic! In late January, Adam, a friend of mine from Alabama, visited and I was able to play host & tour guide. We spent time in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Caesarea, & Haifa. We also went a little off path to visit a few wineries. Adam & I indulged in food, culture and wine. Overall it was an amazing time spent with a good friend!

On a wine tour!

On a wine tour!


February brought a start to my Masa-Hillel Fellowship & a restart to my Tikkun Olam classes and internship. After attending the Masa Leadership Summit last semester, I was able to apply for several different Fellowships. I decided that the Hillel Fellowship was not only the most interesting but also one that would help me to obtain a job in the world of Jewish Education. I applied, interviewed and was offered a place on the fellowship. Every few weeks, I meet up with 13 other Fellows for learning sessions.


March started off with a bang as I began tutoring a conversion student. She had been coming off and on to conversion classes at Beit Daniel for almost 4 years. She was no longer able to attend the English speakers class and was struggling to understand things in the Hebrew speakers class. Rabbi Galia, the Rabbi in charge of the conversion program, asked if I could tutor the student one on one. It was an amazing and interesting experience and after 5 meetings she was ready for her final meeting with Rabbi Galia. She is now moving into the final step of her conversion!


Purim with Lindsey & Robyn!

Purim was huge here in Tel Aviv! This city sure does love a good party. For Purim Israeli style, take Halloween and double it with a side of crazy 🙂 There were days of parties, costume contests and drinks galore. It was defiantly not the average Synagogue celebration back home.

I also had an opportunity to lead a session, Rule the School: Being a Leader on Your College Campus, for gap year kids on NATVI, a Conservative youth movement program. I, along with three other Hillel Fellows, planned and created materials for the two sessions we were going to lead. It was an amazing opportunity to get hands on experience & test out some of the tools Hillel was giving us. It was a great day & I think the students both enjoyed themselves and felt themselves thinking about important issues for the future!

Loretta Shapiro & I in Tel Aviv!

Loretta Shapiro & me in Tel Aviv!

March also brought more visitors from Alabama, this time in the form of the Shapiro family! While visiting Daryl’s family they took time out to have a quick dinner with me. It was great to see them all! Amazing how fast their daughters are growing.

I finished the month attending a great educational event with the Pardes Institutes of Jewish Studies. I attended an evening event with several sessions; it was a great way to prep for Passover.


At the WOW service


I stated April by attending the Women of the Wall‘s Rosh Hodesh service. Meeting at the western wall, in the women’s section, it is celebrating the coming of the new month with a singular experience. Unlike celebrations in past years, things have been calm as of late and the only disapproval I witnessed was several shhhhs when we sang and a few very Hasidic men videotaping us as we read Torah selections from WOW’s siddur. They are not allowed to read directly from a Torah scroll as the Western wall & plaza are currently under the control of a haredi Orthodox Rabbi & it is treated as very conservative Orthodox synagogue.

Us chilling over Passover

Us chilling over Passover

Passover was a much-needed week off  filled with fun events. My roommate Kate & I had a great personal tour of the Jerusalem Zoo provided by Ben. I also spent Seder night & day with Ben. We celebrated with the Lachmans- whom Ben’s parents met when they were living on Kibbutz Tuval. They are very much like family to Ben and it was great to spend the time with them! I also took time to visit the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem. There were several museums open free over the Holiday. Ben and I also took advantage & checked out the Rabin Center in Tel Aviv. It was an amazing museum I highly recommend you visit!! 

For those of you confused by the entry of the name Ben to this update let me explain. I am dating a great guy – Ben. Long story short, we met in October and became good friends and then in February things changed. A few facts about Ben: he was born in Israel while his British parents were living on a Kibbutz; He has a degree in zoology and was interning at the Jerusalem Zoo when we met; He is now working at the Zoo through the summer; his family lives in London & Brighton, England.

Last but not least, the Masa Poland Delegation. I had the interview for one of 17 spots last week & found out who was selected on Sunday evening.

You will have to check out my next post for the results!!    Will I or Won’t I Go to Poland

Lost 2.0


So far while in the land of Israel I have lost the following items:

2 earrings- sadly not the same two

1 wallet – containing money, drivers license, two debit cards, bus pass

another wallet – containing money, two debit cards ( I had just gotten that day to replace the ones in the previous wallet), bus pass

Weight- my friend on the program Sean asked this be included. It is true but I just don’t know how much because we don’t have a scale. I must say I fit into things that didn’t fit before I arrived in Tel Aviv so that feels good 🙂

I hope this list will not grow too much in the next 5.5 months…….


So far while in the land of Israel I have lost the following items:

2 earrings- sadly not the same two

1 wallet – containing money, drivers license, two debit cards, bus pass

I hope this list will not grow too much in the next 7 months…….

Some days you are the bug, others the windshield

In the last 72 hours I have been the bug. After a great day visiting the Jewish peoplehood museum examining Jews in the diaspora, Ulpan class and a wonderful visit to see what might be the biggest Hanukkiyah in Israel, a few of my roommates and I hopped on the bus home, walking in the door about 10pm. The next morning while getting ready for work & packing work bag, I went to retrieve my wallet from my backpack and nothing! So I tossed the backpack, still nothing! I then went through my clothes bag- (I’ve been sharing a room this week) nothing there. I ripped apart the bed, looked under the bed, searched my food shelf, the fridge, bathroom shelves – still nothing! Walked from my house to the bus stop to see if it was just lying there waiting for me. And in case you are unsure – still nothing. I think that after getting on the bus that evening, I must not have zipped my backpack all the way and it slipped out.
My amazing roomates helped me to contact the bus company to report it missing, search the house again, support me with chocolate cake while I have a mini meltdown and listen to me bitch while I deal with banks in two states and the Drivers Licence people in a third, and the US embassy. In total the day ended with one missing wallet, having to wait 3 days for a new bus card (even though I was told I should get it same day), a broken glass, witnessing a man falling down the escalator, stepping in a little bag of chocolate milk and getting in all over & in my shoe, almost getting hit by a car,  (the biker coming our direction did collide with the car, however he & his bike are OK) and finally a glass of wine. I think I might have needed more than one but was afraid of what catastrophe might happen if I did.
My coworkers were amazing, helping me to make additional contacts at the bus company and making sure I have money to get myself through until I can get new cards from the states. One of my coworkers, Yael, even brought me a wallet to use, instead of the little plastic bag I was using.
As of this post the wallet has not been found. This afternoon I will spend on the phone ordering new debt cards, and praying they arrive before the end of time. (In case you are unaware, for some reason the Israel Post hates most of us on Tikkun Olam and never wants us to receive the packages we are sent).
In the end I lost my amazing wallet, containing my driver’s licence, Rav Kav (bus pass), two debit cards, copy of my passport, medical insurance card and approximately 200 shekels. I am sure something else was in there and I’ll never realize its missing.
The only upside from the last few days is that I have been accepted to attend Masa’s Leadership Summit. It is a prestigious learning and leadership development bootcamp. I will be spending December 15-19 in Jerusalem with approximately 250 other young leaders currently attending Masa programs. And while at the bus station picking up my rav kav today, I also ran into Jessie, a friend I made while attending the Jewish Federations of NA General Assembly. It’s always refreshing to see a nice face when in the bas station- they employees aren’t always the most friendly.  So great to see her! 
I am also going to part 2 of 3 of the Masa Mifgashim Series. Mifgashim is a series dedicated to peer-to-peer interactions between young adult Jews from abroad and from Israel.  So off to pack for that now. 
I promise to write again soon- like in the next few days so keep an eye out!

I made it

After a long cold flight, I finally made it to Tel Aviv and to my new home. I arrived on Monday Sept 9 to be greeted by several members of the group (and a ridiculous long customs/visa entry area) and the Tikkun Olam director of Admissions & the program Director. They took us and our rather large number of bags to our apartments for a nights stay before the program officially began. It was a little like getting thrown in the deep end. Here is your house – see you tomorrow morning. No food, no nothing- just go.

At this point I had yet to eat anything substantial and was met with no idea where to get food, no shekels in hand and a apartment/room/bed I would not qualify as clean. Thankfully although I was the first to arrive from my apartment, T.O. (TIkkun Olam) had an additional apartment down the street, so I hung out with its only resident Zoe. Thankfully for both of us we hit it off and enjoyed the only company available.

In a few hours we had members of both our houses and we headed for dinner at the only quick eatery we were informed of- Pizza! Just a few blocks away there is a small pizza place and that’s where we broke bread over our new experience. We commiserated over the fear of a new language, city, culture and apartments that weren’t quite what we expected. For instance, although my building is very new (less than a year old) everything in it, from beds to stoves was not…and we don’t have air, in any room. (See my upcoming post- Does reality compare to the dream?)

Tuesday morning found us, with a bag packed, heading for a three day orientation; first stop Mishkenot Ruth. Mishkenot Ruth is a part of The Daniel Centers for Progressive Judaism and is the largest/main Temple in Tel Aviv for those seeking, what we in the States call, a Reform congregation. Mishkenot Ruth is located in Jaffa about 30/40 min walk from our apartment located in the southern Tel Aviv neighborhood of Kiryat Shalom. Its a combo hotel, meeting center, learning and tour site. Our time there was spent doing get to know you games and some basic paperwork.  That afternoon we packed in the bus and headed south to Kibbutz Ketura. ( http://www.ketura.org.il)

The bus ride was eventful and by eventful I mean I got sick on the way down and on the way back – the kind that they stop the bus for. I guess there was just a spot on that road that highly disagreed with me. 😦 We were just south of the city of Dimona both times. I have no plans to return and am even rethinking my desire to go to Petra just to avoid that road again.

The Opening Seminar was a time for us to get to know one another and learn more about the placement opportunities. It also gave us some time to learn a little bit more about what it would be like to live in Tel Aviv. After two busy days of orientation, talks, pool time and general Welcome to Israel discussion we headed back to the city to prep for a break…..wait we’d been here less than a week and now there was a break. Thanks to the way the Jewish and Gregorian calendars lined up this year, Yom Kippur started less than 24hrs after we returned from the Kibbutz. Friday morning we were taken on a quick get to know your neighborhood tour and dropped off at a market to buy food. We had to go to the market and buy food if we wanted to eat for the next 48hrs and everything was closing for the holiday. The lasting impression of being thrown into a market, where you don’t know the language and are just adjusting to the currency was not a positive one. I had to hold off the desire to run home, pack my things and return to the States.

Yom Kippur was an interesting experience. On Erev Yom Kippur we went to a rooftop service. It was very untraditional and I think was more for Jews who maybe aren’t so down with God. As it was all in Hebrew, I had to take some interpretations from others but I know in additional to some traditional prayer which I recognized, some reading were more generic in their thanking The Spirit for a time to reflect on ourselves. (At one point a man with a recorder <you know the musical instrument all grade schoolers play to the despair of all around them> chimed in with the singing. We had a hard time keeping it together) I know this isn’t the best description but its all I got. Had I been closer to one of the two Reform temples in Tel Aviv I think I would have preferred attending there. We were forced to walk home and back- this service was in the middle of town and took about a hour to get to. We were under the impression that it would be max 40 min walk. The city felt a little like I was in an episode of the Walking Dead; no cars, buses, taxis- the few people that were out were walking or biking.  The next day we took our experience to the beach. It was a great way to spend a very hot day. It was over 100 here and without air our apartment, it was terrible to be in. The beach was our best option considering everything was closed for Yom Kippur. Thankful the day came to a close with a left-over supper from our pre holiday meal.

Although we were off, there was no time to get anything done but sweep our rooms. It kinda sucked. Sunday(the Israeli Monday),  came to greet us with our first Ulpan- a 4 hour death defying adventure into Hebrew. For the next four days it was half a day Ulpan, half a day seeing possible placement sites for the volunteer work. Thank God my teacher, Dina, is amazing and helps us all to put our fears aside. (On that note I really need to finish this so I can study)

Currently we are doing a bunch of nothing (as far as the program is considered). Its frustrating but Sukkot is a big holiday here and most people are off for the week plus, so we are off too. We don’t return to class & visiting placements until Sunday September 29.

I’m off to catch up on a few other things but promise a post on The Real Housewives of Kiryat Shalom and a post I’m currently working on titled Does reality compare to the Dream?

Bina, where we have Ulpan & will have more classes though out my time here

Bina, where we have Ulpan & will have more classes though out my time here

Making Pita at the Kibbutz- mine is the mostly round one, surprisingly

Making Pita at the Kibbutz- mine is the mostly round one, surprisingly

walking the streets of Tel Aviv on Yom Kippur

walking the streets of Tel Aviv on Yom Kippur

The Real Housewives of Kiryat Shalom & our Genie- aka my apartment mates

The Real Housewives of Kiryat Shalom & our Genie- aka my apartment mates

Leaving On A Jet Plane




Air Canada Plane

Tomorrow is the day! I will be leaving at 10am CST for Tel Aviv. I will be stopping in Toronto before catching my long flight directly to Tel Aviv. Once I arrive the plan is to stay one night in town before heading south for a few days for orientation! I will be back in Tel Aviv and in the land of guaranteed internet on Friday! Talk to you all then!!!