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.
 

Year Course 2007-2008 Constitutes Largest Class in History of Young Judaea

Year Course 2007-2008 Constitutes Largest Class in History of Young Judaea

August 16, 2007

Three new tracks give participants more options for a meaningful Israel experience.
When the 382 U.S. and Canadian participants in the 2007-2008 Young Judaea Year Course program leave for Israel at the end of the month, they will constitute the largest class ever and one that is an impressive 25 percent bigger than last year’s.
 
Coming from 30 states, Puerto Rico, and three Canadian provinces, they will be joined by 99 participants from Britain’s Federation of Zionist Youth and 17 members of the Israel Scouts. With the total class size nearly 500, this is the fourth year in a row that the Year Course attendance has grown to record numbers.
 
"Over the years, we have seen that the backgrounds of Jewish teens who are attracted to Year Course have become more and more varied. In light of this fact, we are offering more tracks than ever to address the special interests of Jewish North American teens," explained Shelley Sherman, coordinator of Young Judaea, the Zionist youth movement of Hadassah. "We believe we have something for everyone interested in spending a structured year in Israel – and that that shows in our numbers."
 
This year for the first time, 75 members of the class will participate in one of two new Olami tracks, which will not only take students to Israel but to countries around the world. Year Course Olami: the Zionist Revolution, will introduce students to five areas – France, England, Budapest/Prague/Krakow, Morocco, and Ethiopia – from where Jews risked everything to leave their homes and start anew in Israel.
 
Discovering remote Jewish communities of the world is the goal of Year Course Olami: the Lost Jewish Communities, in which participants will visit communities in Portugal, South Africa, India and Uganda. During the course of their academic year in Israel, students will alternate their travels with Year Course’s core components of classroom study, touring Israel and volunteering.
  
Year Course provides up to one year’s worth of college credit through the American Jewish University-in-Israel, while building leadership skills and developing and strengthening their relationship with the country’s land and people. Participants spend a third of their time in Bat Yam/Holon, where they engage in an array of educational activities with local school children, from teaching English to coaching basketball.
 
Another third is spent in the new Beit Ar-El, Young Judaea’s educational center in Jerusalem, where participants take courses in Jewish history, religion, language and current events. The third segment is spent doing hands-on volunteer work with organizations like Magen David Adom, the Israeli rescue service, an ecological farm, and the Israel Defense Forces, to name but a few. 

Reflections on a coming year abroad

<div class="masa-blog-title">Reflections on a coming year abroad</div>

By Rachel Schneider, Nativ
 
While most of my peers are entering college this fall, I am deferring for the year, to participate on Nativ, the Conservative Movement’s year long, post-high school leadership program in Israel for USY alumni.
 

Giving back to Jerusalem

<div class="masa-blog-title">Giving back to Jerusalem</div>

By Gabriel Seed, Nativ
 
As a participant in the Nativ program, I spent the first five months of my program living in the centre of Jerusalem while studying at the Conservative Yeshiva.
 

Masa Sets Multi-Year Commitment from Israeli Prime Minister

Masa Sets Multi-Year Commitment from Israeli Prime Minister

March 22, 2007

Today the Israeli government announced that it is making a multi-year commitment to support the Masa project, so that it can continue to bring thousands of young Jews to Israel for a five to 10 months to participate in volunteer and study programs.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert convened the meeting in which he stressed the critical importance of the project and pledged to support and continue the program whose goal is to bring more than 20,000 participants a year to Israel on long-term programs.
 
Since its start two years ago, there has been a 100% increase in the number of long-term Israel programs offering a wider range of options for young Jews from the Diaspora.  As a result, the number of young Jews that come to participate in these programs has more than doubled to 8,000.
 
The Prime Minister’s statement is a vote of confidence in the project and its ideals. 
 
Among the plans discussed for Masa over the next two years were increasing the number of participants to 20,000 a year, an emphasis on programming in the areas of the Negev and the Galilee, a fusion of the Masa programs with every facet of Israeli society, and the formation of a bond between Israelis and Jewish communities all over the world.
 
Executive Director of Masa Elan Ezrachi highlighted the project's values to the Israeli society: each participant of Masa contributes a minimum of 20 hours of community service. In total, the participants give about 200,000 days of volunteering to Israel, in a variety of social and cultural environments.  Moreover, each participant returns to his or her home community stronger, more committed and better equipped to succeed.  
 
Masa was created and is funded by the Prime Minister’s Office and the Jewish Agency. The budget for this year’s project was $36 million; half of which was allocated by the government of Israel and the other half by the Jewish Agency and private donors. This year, approximately $22 Million is being spent on scholarships and grants for 5,000 participants. In 2007-2008, Masa expects to bring 9,500 participants, the highest number ever, with a budget of $48 million.

Kaela Frank's speech at the Prime Minister's residence

<div class="masa-blog-title">Kaela Frank's speech at the Prime Minister's residence</div>

 
Below is the text of Kaela Frank's speech delivered at Prime Minister Edud Olmert's residence, October 9, 2006. 
 
Good afternoon Prime Minister Olmert and esteemed guests. My name is Kaela Frank and I am honored to be here today representing the 437 chanichim from North America, England, Scotland and Puerto Rico that are currently on Hadassah’s Young Judaea and FZY Year Course, one of Masa’s largest programs.
 

2,000 Masa Participants Take a Train Ride to Israel's North

2,000 Masa Participants Take a Train Ride to Israel's North

September 19, 2006

This year, 8,000 participants from all over the world will be spending a semester to a year in Israel in more than 150 Masa-affiliated programs -- the largest number of participants ever.
On October 26th, over 2,000 of these participants currently in Israel will celebrate Masa's third year by taking the train from Jerusalem to the port city of Akko (Acre) in northern Israel. 
 
The participants will travel by train, specially chartered by Masa for this celebration trip, accompanied by live entertainment – including, music, dance and performances - and experienced guides who will be on hand to explain the significant sites along the route.  Also on the train will be a display devoted to the recent war with Lebanon and its impact on Israel's northern communities.  Traveling with the participants will be soldiers who fought in the war who will answer questions and share their experiences wih the participants. 
 
Participants will also be receiving Masa welcome kits, including discount coupons, tour map and lexicon, dictionary and a Masa ID card entitling them to additional discounts and entry to special Masa event, all in a special Masa backpack. 
 
Upon arriving in Akko, they will join with other Masa participants making their way to the port city by bus.  Together, they will make their way on foot to Akko's Old City.  They will learn about its history, visit archeological landmarks, and 'lend a hand' by volunteering in a number of projects to help revitalize parts of the Old City that were damaged during the war in Lebanon.  The day's activities will conclude in the evening with a celebration on the walls of the Old City. 

New Office to Serve Largest Percentage of Masa Israel Participants

New Office to Serve Largest Percentage of Masa Israel Participants

September 5, 2006

North America counts for 60% of the long-term program participants in any given year. Therefore it was only natural that Masa would have a North American presence.
Now it does.   
 
The new office, located in the Jewish Agency office in Manhattan, will serve the growing marketing and recruitment needs of Masa Israel Journey in North America. 
 
The office is managed by Avi Rubel, who will serve as the Director of North American Operations.  Mr. Rubel was a senior staff member at Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, where he was in charge of all the Hillel activities in the Former Soviet Union.  
 
"This is a decision which we have approached very carefully and I think we have finally reached a point which will be helpful to all the participants," says Elan Ezrachi, Executive Director of Masa. 
 
The office will serve communities in the US and Canada, working closely with Jewish Federations, Hillel and university students to promote Masa and solidify the relationships that Masa has forged with these institutions.  It will also help develop new strategic initiatives for rooting Masa and its aspirations in the American community.