Interview with Michal Erder, intern at the school
Michal Erder, a 23 year-old New Jersey native and graduate of Tulane University, has spent the summer working as an intern at the International School for Jewish Peoplehood Studies at Beit Hatfutsot. The internship is part of the Masa Israel program, which offers university graduates and young professionals an Israel experience incorporating career development, internship, community service and graduate academic experiences in Israel. Before she returns to the United States to start looking for a permanent job at a museum closer to home, Michal spoke to Elana Sztokman about her experiences at Beit Hatfutsot, which she described as “magical”:
What have you been working on this summer?
I’ve been working with D'vora Greisman Daniels, Coordinator of International Programs at Beit Hatfutsot. She has brought me in to almost every aspect of her work, on developing, tweaking and implementing educational programs for the groups that have been coming to Beit Hatfutsot. Some of the groups that have come include Taglit, Bronfman high school kids, Onward Israel and others. I have also been working on My Family Story, working on English Facebook and preparations for next year. I love it. It’s so much fun. I have been involved in the real nuts and bolts of the work. It has been such an incredible opportunity.
Where are you from originally?
I’m originally from Livingston New Jersey. I just graduated from Tulane University with a bachelor’s degree in history and communications and a Master’s in History. I went to Solomon Schechter Day School, so I had a private Jewish education my whole life. Also, my dad is Israeli, so we’ve been coming to Israel since I was a little kid. In college, I was very involved with Jewish life on campus, and was on the board of student Jewish life at the Chabad house. This Masa internship has been through the Oranim program, and I’ve been here for two and a half months. It’s been great, and lots of fun. My uncle, Yoram Erder, is a professor of history at Tel Aviv University – which has been great; we’ve gone to lunch a few times while I’m here at Beit Hatfutsot.
What made you become interested in museum work?
I love the hands on aspect of museum life and not just looking in books. I took a lot of classes in history and really enjoyed it. I did a lot of Jewish history, too. I did research on Jewish history, like on the inquisition and Jewish immigration to the United States and 20th century. Those are topics that are really interesting to me.
How do you like working at Beit Hatfutsot?
I couldn’t be happier. It’s such an exciting place to be. I’m having a great time. The people in the school have been great, really helpful, really inviting. It’s a great environment to be in.
What was your best moment during the internship?
There was a panel for high powered women talking about Jewish peoplehood. It was an interesting panel, even in Hebrew. It was so great to be listening in on that kind of conversation, I was like wow, I’m really here. Also when the Bronfman fellows were here, talking to these really smart kids about Jewish Peoplehood, that was magical.
What are you plans now?
When I go home, I’m going to start looking for a job in a museum. My father would love to move back to Israel one day, and it is probably in the cards for my family at some point. For me, I don’t know. It’s definitely on the table. Depends what opportunities come up. I think one day I’ll make aliyah. I just don’t know when.
What would you say to kids thinking about coming on a Masa internship to Israel or working at Beit Hatfutsot?
Definitely do it! It’s an amazing opportunity. Here you’re given a voice. You get to see how things work. D’vora has been amazing keeping me involved. You’re really at the center seeing what really goes on. I just loved it.