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WUJS Arts Program Brings Columbus, Ohio, Artist To Israel

NEW YORK – At 29 years old, Marian Lerner of Columbus, Ohio, thought she had missed her chance to visit Israel. The trip would be costly, she was over the age limit for programs that she knew provided financial assistance, and she needed to focus on her career.

Then, she discovered WUJS Jerusalem Arts, a program organized by Young Judaea, the Zionist youth movement of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America. The program for Jewish artists ages 21-35 allows participants to study Hebrew language and Israeli art, while focusing on their own personal art medium, whether it be visual art, music, photography, writing or performing. The five-month program supplements classroom time with weekly field trips, overnight hikes, opportunities to meet Israeli peers and artists, and volunteer activities. At the end of the program, artists present their work in an exhibition at the Hadassah Art Gallery.

Having studied fine art as an undergraduate at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, Lerner says she “found the idea of studying art in Jerusalem a dream come true.” Thanks to scholarships from Hadassah, the Columbus Jewish Federation, and MASA, which helps Jewish young people spend a semester or year in Israel, Lerner found a way to pursue art in Israel.

“I found best friends, I saw beautiful sights, I experienced a whole different culture, I learned Hebrew – which I’m still studying from my Ulpan books – I learned about myself, and I celebrated my 30th birthday,” Lerner says of the program she attended between March and August of this year. “I learned I could go to distant places by myself and take chances and live with people for five months and have them become my family. This experience has changed me. I have a strength now that I didn’t have before, and I feel as though I can go anywhere and do anything I dream of.”

With 40 years of programming and 8,000 graduates, WUJS Israel continues to lead the way in post-college programs. Lerner is just one young person whose life will be impacted forever by studying in Israel.

Date: 10/19/2010 12:00:00 AM

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