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COJECO RSJ Symposium

Adults College Students Inter-generational Jewish professionals

Avital Khazanov

Director of Recruitment for the Russian American Community, Israel Free Spirit

Avital was born in Kharkov, Ukraine. Her passion for Judaism started with her Jewish schooling in her home town. During her schooling, she dreamed of praying next to the Wailing Wall and nothing was able to stop her. She won first place in the worldwide Hidon ha Tanah competition for Ukraine and went to Israel to meet with Ariel Sharon. She has been a leader all her life. As a little girl in Kharkov, Avital learned from her parents, great grandparents and Jewish school the importance of giving back to the Jewish community. She made it her priority to give back to the Jewish community in every city where she lived. Avital’s Masa Journey began in college at Hillel, where she served as the International Liaison between Kharkov Hillel and Hillel of Washington. She focused her time on building interconnected global Jewish communities by organizing educational and holiday events for students from Washington Hillel. “This Hillel experience immediately exposed me to the diversity of the Jewish community in US, and I was amazed with everything that could be done in America.” After this stint, the Hillel Jewish Community Center got her on board as a Director of Partnership, where she developed, planned and implemented leadership workshops and built a structure inside the Jewish Community Center and Family Club. She holds a Master degree in Finance and in 2013 Avital was given the opportunity to get on board to open a first Russian-Jewish camp for children ages 8-14 in Los Angeles, where for the past four years she has helped to run it in various roles, ranging from marketing to camper engagement to logistical details. She recruited kids who showed strong interest and received commitments from parents for the brand new camp, which filled up ahead of schedule and spilled over to a waiting list for the following year — she has continued to exceeded the recruitment goals by filling it up over 100% each year since. In 2016 at the first West Coast Limmud FSU conference for young professionals and families, she focused her attention on the needs of the larger community, managing the retreat and over 10 volunteers, and bringing in over 700 attendees including students, young professionals, and families to the conference. She also managed logistics for the conference set up and cultivated and stewarded relationships with young adults and volunteers. She was working as the Southwest Regional Director of Masa Israel Journey where she focuses on expending Masa on a bigger scale, building meaningful relationships with students, community members, and individuals, and working to educate the community to the work that Masa Israel Journey does for the young professionals from 18-30 years old. Right now she is working as the Director of Recruitment for the Russian American Community all over US for an Israel Free Spirit. “I was born and raised with the principle of Jewish community as a center of my life, meeting different people and lay-leaders who helped me to grow as a person and showed me an example of how strongly they are when they get involved and how they care about their communities and what it means for them. It made me understand the impact that Jewish community has on me. How connecting with Jewish students, and creating meaningful experiences is what I want to do in life, committing to a Jewish life, and the belief that Israel can change somebody else’s life and inspire them in the way Israel inspires me. That`s what keep me going.”


OU Israel Free Spirit: Birthright Israel
Www. Israelfreespirit.com
11 Broadway New York, NY 10004

Mission: We believe that people thrive through personalizing their own experiences. Our vision is to share the magic of Israel with young Jewish adults of all backgrounds and interests. Come as you are, you will feel comfortable and warmly accepted on our trips.

We build Israel Free Spirit trips around intimate encounters with the people of Israel in their communities and the land of Israel through activities such as volunteering, hiking, kayaking, etc. Through these active learning experiences, our participants are able to appreciate the complexities of Israel while forming true friendships that last a lifetime.

Israel Free Spirit offers different types of Birthright Israel trips to accommodate participants of varying interests. All of our trips are designed to experience Israel to its fullest. We offer a wide variety of niche trips catering to specific interests such as the arts, yoga/mindfulness, business entrepreneurship and more. Some of our trips offer unique opportunities for individuals with special needs as well as a trip tailored for participants in recovery, based on our approach of equal opportunity for all. Our basic philosophy of providing a fun, active, spiritual and meaningful encounter in Israel unifies all of these Israel Free Spirit programs.