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.
 

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.