50 Masa participants take the stage in Jerusalem at the Presidential Conference 2008 - Facing Tomorrow.

50 Masa participants take the stage in Jerusalem at the Presidential Conference 2008 - Facing Tomorrow.

50 Masa participants take the stage in Jerusalem at the Presidential Conference 2008 - Facing Tomorrow.

July 7, 2008

50 Masa participants from the Building Future Leadership Seminar Series (BFL) were invited to share the stage in Jerusalem with Israeli President Shimon Peres during the opening ceremony of The Presidential Conference -- Facing Tomorrow. 
The participants joined 50 other Masa participants, 13 current or former heads of state (including President George W. Bush and and former Prime Minister Tony Blair) and 3,500 distinguished guests for a three-day event initiated by Mr. Peres for the purpose of "examining, confronting, and responding to three intertwining  futures: the global tomorrow, the  Jewish  tomorrow, and the Israeli tomorrow."
 
Attendees chose from a wide variety of lectures, panels, and discussion sessions lead by prominent figures in the academic, political, religious, scientific, business, technological and Jewish world covering a diverse range of topics. "It was something I never thought I would experience," commented Deborah Laks from Costa Rica. "Getting to see such prominent people up close.  It gave me the insight that anyone can achieve what they have if they have the ambition.
 
Peres has made clear that the development of such ambition was one of the desired outcomes of the conference as a whole. More than generating "talk," Peres writes, the conference strove to drive "action" by "encouraging practical initiatives intended to positively shape our future."

College Advisors Discover a Wide Range of Gap Year Programs in Israel

College Advisors Discover a Wide Range of Gap Year Programs in Israel

June 4, 2008

Unlike regular tourists, the 15 high school college advisors and gap year consultants who visited Israel in October as part of Masa Israel Journey’s semi-annual study trip to Israel were “on a mission.”
The professionals, chosen from more than 70 applicants from Jewish, private and public high schools and independent consultancies from around the country, came to Israel to learn about different gap year options in Israel and to experience the culture and society in which these programs take place.
 
During the trip, the college advisors visited programs like Kivunim, Young Judaea Year Course, the Rimon School of Jazz and Contemporary Music, and Kibbutz Ulpan, where they had the opportunity to meet with current program participants.
 
“It’s clear that the students are not only having fun, but are regularly exposed to things on a very real level,” said Collegewise Consultant Arun Ponnusamy who, like many of the professionals, was impressed with the young adults he met. “On Kivunim, for example, they learn Arabic and discuss different political issues in the region. I would have loved to sit down with one of these students when I was on campus and learn about their experiences.”  
 
“One of the things I was struck by—despite the fact that we spent most of our time in Jerusalem—was how secular the country was,” adds Mr. Ponnusamy. “A gap year program in Israel isn’t exclusively for one of my clients who went to Camp Ramah since age four. A kid that knows he’s Jewish simply because he has a Jewish last name would relish being in that environment.”
 
For Sharon Horowitz, director of Judaica High School in Florida, which hopes to send its first batch of graduating seniors on gap year programs in Israel next year, the mission drove home the importance of taking a gap year in Israel
 
“From a student’s point of view, the experience of a gap year program in Israel can help them get into a college of their choice, makes them more mature once they enter college, often allows them to earn college credits, and enables them to be on their own within a structured environment with supervision,” Horowitz says. “From a professional standpoint, these students spend 10 months in Israel, living and breathing Israel, connected to the land and the people, and as Jewish educators, that’s everything we want.”
           
Another Masa Israel Journey-sponsored gap year mission for college advisors will leave in January.  Also in January, a Masa-sponsored mission for university career center professionals will visit a variety of volunteer and internship programs, such as Career Israel, OTZMA, WUJS, and Israel Service Corps, for post-college students. 
 
Masa maintains close ties with past mission participants, following up with their students about programs that interest them and keeping them up-to-date on programs’ changes.
 
For more information about Masa’s missions, please contact Masa North American Director Avi Rubel.
 
The October 2008 gap year mission included:
 
Deerfield, IL, Student Extended Experiences Counseling (SEEC), Marsha Ray
Denver, CO and Santa Fe, NM, Certified Educational Planner, Estelle Meskin
Detroit, MI, Frankel Jewish Academy, Evelyn and Louis Wolff
Los Angeles, CA, Collegewise, Arun Ponnusamy
Maitland, FL, Community Hebrew High, Erica Hruby
Miami, FL, Judaica High School, Sharon Horowitz
Montreal, QC, Hebrew Academy, Linda Lehrer
Natick, MA, Walnut Hill High School, Sarah Van Doel,
Prairie Village, KS, Shawnee Mission East High School, Lili and Larry Englebrick
Sausalito, CA, David Denman, Private Educational Consultant
Scottsdale, AZ, Saguaro High School, Robert Liebman
Web-Based, Planet Gap Year, Paul Mahone
 
The January 2008 gap year mission included:
 
Atlanta, GA, The Weber School, Sharon Karpel
Atlanta, GA, Woodward Academy, Missy Sanchez
Bellevue, WA, College Placement Consultants, Pauline Reiter
Bethesda, MD, The Walt Whitman School, Frances Landau
Brooklyn, NY, High School of the Telecommunication Arts and Technology, Christina Mednick
Coral Gables, FL, Aspire Educational Solution, Philip Ross
Cote-St-Luc, QC, Bialik High School, Janet Dwoskin and Leonie Richler
Glenn Cove, NY, Solomon Schechter School of Long Island, Madelynn Schwarz
Hartsdale, NY, Solomon Schechter of Westchester, Heath Einstein
Hightstown, NJ, Peddie School, Edward de Villafranca
Houston, TX, The Emery/Weiner School, Lynn Slaughter
Los Angeles, CA, Milken Community High School, Jennifer H. Lee
Montreal, QC, Royal Vale School, Cathy Schreiber
Newton, MA, Newton South High School, Barbara Brown
New York, NY, Trinity School, Elizabeth Pleshette
North Hollywood, CA, Harvard-Westlake School, Rose Ellen Racanelli
North Miami Beach, FL, Ben Lipson Hillel Community High School, Allan Wolf
Reseda, CA, Cleveland High School, Sharon Drell
Riverdale, NY, SAR High School, Marjorie Jacobs
Rockville, MD, Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, Melissa Gartner
Phoenix, AZ, Jess Schwartz Jewish Community High School, Audrey Lewis
Pittsburgh, PA, Shadyside Academy, Virginia Maddux
Santa Fe, NM, Santa Fe Preparatory School and College Quest, Inc., Levia Nahary
Scarsdale, NY, Scarsdale High School, Lynda Mandlawitz
Seattle, WA, College Placement Services, Linda Jacobs
Shaker Heights, OH, Shaker Heights High School, Eileen Blattner
Toronto, ON, TanenbaumCHAT South Campus, Carol Morton
Van Nuys, CA, Los Angeles Unified School District, District 1, Linda Zimring
Vaughn ON, TanenbaumCHAT North Campus, Caryn Nutik
Waltham, MA, Gann Academy/New Jewish High School of Greater Boston, Anne Levy
West Bloomfield, MI, Frankel Jewish Academy, Patricia Bostwick and Lee Buckman
West Hills, CA, New Community Jewish High School, Marc Lindner

Masa Participants Attend Presidential Conference

Masa Participants Attend Presidential Conference

Masa Participants Attend Presidential Conference

May 13, 2008

50 Masa participants from the Building Future Leadership Seminar Series (BFL) were invited to share the stage in Jerusalem with Israeli President Shimon Peres during the opening ceremony of The Presidential Conference -- Facing Tomorrow.
The participants joined 50 other Masa participants, 13 current or former heads of state (including President George W. Bush and and former Prime Minister Tony Blair) and 3,500 distinguished guests for a three-day event initiated by Mr. Peres for the purpose of  "examining, confronting, and responding to three intertwining  futures: the  global  tomorrow,  the  Jewish  tomorrow, and the Israeli tomorrow."
 
Attendees chose from a wide variety of lectures, panels, and discussion sessions lead by prominent figures in the academic, political, religious, scientific, business, technological and Jewish world covering a diverse range of topics. "It was something I never thought I would experience," commented Deborah Laks from Costa Rica. "Getting to see such prominent people up close. It gave me the insight that anyone can achieve what they have if they have the ambition."
 
Peres has made clear that the development of such ambition was one of the desired outcomes of the conference as a whole. More than generating "talk," Peres writes, the conference strove to drive action by "encouraging practical initiatives intended to positively shape our future."

Masa Celebrates its Fourth Year, and Israel's 60th

Masa Celebrates its Fourth Year, and Israel's 60th

Masa Celebrates its Fourth Year, and Israel's 60th

April 29, 2008

Thousands of Masa participants, dignitaries and guests gathered in Latrun on Thursday night to celebrate Masa's 4th year and Israel's 60th anniversary.
Over 5,000 Masa Israel participants gathered in Latrun on the evening of May 22nd to celebrate their year in Israel and the contribution they have made while participating in a long-term Masa-affiliated program.  
 
Those in attendance were treated to a high-caliber show that included addresses by Israeli Prime Minister Mr. Ehud Olmert and the Chairman of the Jewish Agency Mr. Zeev Bielski, musical and visual performances by Israeli artists such as Teapacks and Tararam, and a laser light show and spectacular fireworks display finale.
 
"It was really cool that Masa went out of its way to put on something special for us," said Los Angeles native Jordan Kwok of OTZMA. "I was impressed by how big the event was and the whole energy it had about it. And it was great to see how many participants were there." 
 
0ver 25, 000 young Jews from around the world have participated in a Masa-affiliated program since Masa's conception in 2004. This year (2007-8) witnessed the largest participant numbers to date with over 8,000 participants coming to Israel from 50 countries.  
 
Deborah Laks of Costa Rica, who co-hosted Masa LIVE with fellow Building Future Leadership (BFL) participant Noah Serbin of the United States, confessed, "Living in Israel makes me feel I finally belong somewhere. Israel has given me so much. It has definitely become my home, and this has been all thanks to Masa."

Two cents on the benefits of a gap year

<div class="masa-blog-title">Two cents on the benefits of a gap year</div>

By John B. Boshoven, President of the Michigan Association for College Admission Counseling
 
I worry when a student comes to me and announces, "I am going to take a year off before college" unless the student has a definite plan for the year. Studies and empirical evidence highlight the virtues of "gap years" with programs that are organized, focused, and goal oriented.
 

Masa Wins Campus Coalition Award

Masa Wins Campus Coalition Award

Masa Wins Campus Coalition Award

September 27, 2007

At the Fall Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC) consultation, Masa was presented with the 2007 Outstanding Israel on Campus Achievement Award for its Campus Grants Program.
The Israel on Campus Coalition is a partnership of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, in cooperation with a network of national organizations committed to promoting Israel education and advocacy on campus.
 
The Masa/Hillel Campus Grants program provides up to 20 Hillels with $5,000 each to support programming that increases Masa program participation. Masa Hillel grants have been used to organize Israel cultural fairs, Masa program organizer fairs, and a variety of other activities.
 
This year, the Masa/Hillel Campus grant recipients are: U. Virginia, Rutgers, Northwestern, Maryland, Indiana, Emory, Binghamton, Arizona, UCLA, U. Illinois, Wisconsin, UMASS, UC Santa Cruz, UC San Diego, George Washington, Queens College, Vanderbilt, Brown, American, and the University of Ottawa.

And so it begins: Masa 2007-2008

<div class="masa-blog-title">And so it begins: Masa 2007-2008</div>

 
By Erin Kopelow
 
Nativ director Yossi Garr is standing atop a picnic table.
 

Top Ten Ways to Travel in this Country

<div class="masa-blog-title">Top Ten Ways to Travel in this Country</div>

10) With your eyes open.  
Especially at first, be aware of what’s going on.  Drivers are crazy and people tend to walk right into you without saying sorry.
 
9) Buy a map.  
It’s good to have an idea of where you’re going, especially if you’re going to take a taxi.
 

Top 10 Chagim Hikes

<div class="masa-blog-title">Top 10 Chagim Hikes</div>

Nothing is better than spending the Chagim in Israel outdoors!  Here is our list of the top 10 hikes during the chagim season.  Before you set out, however, it must be warned that every year many, many people get themselves into trouble while hiking in Israel for lack of proper training or preparation.  To avoid this it is advised to participate in an organized hike with a trained guide before setting out on your own.
 

Inside Look into Masa Israel through Executive Director Ezrachi

<div class="masa-blog-title">Inside Look into Masa Israel through Executive Director Ezrachi </div>

 
By Erin Kopelow
 
"Israel, is about to celebrate its 60th birthday," Masa Executive Director Dr. Elan Ezrachi says with an air of determination, "and the Jewish world of today is dramatically different than what it was sixty years ago."
 
The level of growth Israel has experienced over these past sixty years has significantly changed the face of this country.