Masa Israel Hosts “Your Next Step” Conference for Participants

<div class="masa-blog-title">Masa Israel Hosts “Your Next Step” Conference for Participants</div>

 
Over 3,000 participants attended the Masa Israel Journey mega-conference in Jerusalem on May 2, 2010, a day-long event featuring seminars on “next steps” for participants, many of whom are preparing to leave Israel and return to their Jewish communities across the globe.
 

Contributing to Israeli Society and Jewish Identity

Contributing to Israeli Society and Jewish Identity

Contributing to Israeli Society and Jewish Identity

May 4, 2010

Sharansky: Masa Israel Makes it Possible for Tens of Thousands of Young Jews to Strengthen Their Own Identity
The following is an update from the Jewish Agency for Israel
 
May 3, 2010 / 19 Iyar 5770
 
Masa has been good to Israel.
 
Founded by the Jewish Agency and the Government of Israel in 2003, Masa Israel enables young Diaspora Jews to experience life in Israel for a semester or a year on any of over 160 programs to strengthen their Jewish identity and their connection to Israel.
 
2010 marked a banner year for the program – with a 15% increase in participation from 2009. A total of 9,400 young Jews from around the world will come to Israel through Masa Israel (from September 2009 through June 2010) as opposed to 8,200 participants from last year.
 
The increase can be broken down as follows: 64% increase in the number of young people who came to Israel from the Former Soviet Union, a 45% increase in the number of participants from France, and a 33% increase in the number of participants from South America. Also, there was a 10% increase in the number of participants from the United States. Further data revealed that the percentage of participants who came to Israel on Masa Israel programs immediately after graduating from colleges and universities abroad has increased from 7% since the beginning of the project to 28% today.
 
Since the project’s inception, Masa Israel has contributed $560 million to the Israeli economy and has significantly contributed to leading academic institutions, as well as to the local tourism industry. During this period, Masa Israel has brought 45,000 young Jews, between the ages of 18-30, from 60 different countries to Israel.

The journey to Israel

<div class="masa-blog-title">The journey to Israel</div>

By a Masa Israel participant studying at the University of Haifa
 
I never thought I could love one place so much.
 
I can't even fully explain what it is like living here. I know it. I feel it. It’s pleasant like fine sand between my fingers, but when I try to describe it, it slips through my hand.
 
It's because each grain of sand is like a memory.
 

Masa "Fingerprints" Exhibition at Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem on 4/21

Masa "Fingerprints" Exhibition at Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem on 4/21

April 14, 2010

Masa program students to hold exhibition at Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem.
A group of thirteen students from the USA and worldwide will be unveiling a special exhibition of their art and design work later this month at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, that reflects their variety of influences and the unity of their Israel experience. The grand opening will take place at the Academy at 6.30pm on 21 April, and the exhibition runs until 2 May in the main galleries of the Academy's Fine Art department.
 
The students – eight from the USA, two from Australia, two from Russia and one from Denmark – are closing the time they have spent at Bezalel on the 2009/10 Masa program with their exhibition, entitled "Fingerprints". The exhibition showcases their work based on the notion that we come from all over the world with very different influences and backgrounds, but through art we are all united.
 
The work on show spans all the creative disciplines on offer at Bezalel, from fine art to screen-based video art, via photography, ceramics, industrial design, photography and fashion. It serves to demonstrate the full range of exposure that students on the Masa program receive at Bezalel to all forms of art and design, and reinforces the Academy's ethos of expanding horizons and developing understanding through the mixing of techniques and cultural influences.
 
The Bezalel Art experience for Masa students is designed for young international artists aged between 18 and 30 who are yearning to pursue their passion abroad. The program offers students an opportunity to discover the world of art and design in a setting that emphasizes both academic and cultural growth in the holy city of Jerusalem. Students on the program choose either a Fine Art track, involving courses on sculpture, drawing, painting, printing, performance and illustration, or a course of advanced arts and design studies for applicants with at least two years of university-level art and design experience.
 
Both program tracks at Bezalel provide a dynamic supplementary curriculum, including field trips, tours, mifgashim – encounters – with Israeli peers, celebrations of Jewish and Israeli national holidays, social and cultural events throughout Israel, and educational seminars on topics ranging from Jewish and Israeli identity to religion and the Jewish state, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and trends in the Israeli job market.
 
The Masa program, which is sponsored by the Jewish Agency and the Government of Israel, enables young Jews (18 to 30) from around the world to build a lasting relationship with Israel, strengthen their Jewish identity, and gain meaningful and beneficial experiences by participating in a long-term program in Israel. Masa provides young Jewish adults with connections to programs, grants and scholarships towards program fees, as well as support, activities, workshops and resources while here in Israel.
 
Liv Sperber, Director of International Relations at Bezalel says: “We're excited to be hosting the Fingerprints exhibition which showcases some of the most important aspects of Bezalel's work – nurturing talent, bringing people together from a diversity of backgrounds and sharing the heritage that our world-class Academy offers. Fingerprints also demonstrates the wonderful opportunity offered to young people from overseas to come and experience the Bezalel Academy and take positive impressions of Israel back to their countries of origin. We are particularly proud that many of the Bezalel Masa participants choose to remain in Israel after their semester or year-long stay, and apply to be accepted to a full degree program at Bezalel.”

Ten plagues to avoid this Passover

<div class="masa-blog-title">Ten plagues to avoid this Passover</div>

As you read the Haggadah on your Kindle, think about the 10 plagues you should avoid this Passover:
 
  1. Water turning to blood, or when the balance in your bank account drops from seriously depressing to EMPTY
     
  2. Frogs, or the desperately awkward singles you seem to meet at every party you go to
     

Masa Israel Journey Energizes the Next Generation of Jewish Leaders

Masa Israel Journey Energizes the Next Generation of Jewish Leaders

March 9, 2010

There are more than 9,000 young Jewish adults currently on Masa Israel programs, and more than 50,000 alumni. Fifty six percent of them have also taken part in Birthright Israel.
"The nonprofit sector is at a major crossroads. After years of humming along at a familiar pace of ongoing programs, stable leadership, and status quo fundraising, a new wave of change is happening right before our very eyes. The thousands of idealistic baby boomers that started nonprofit organizations 20 years ago are calling it quits and retiring from their leadership positions in the coming years. You’ve no doubt heard about it, but I’ll just confirm it for you here: there is indeed a leadership crisis looming ahead for the nonprofit sector.”
Director of the Rhea Hirsch School of Education, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles
 
Who will lead the Jewish community tomorrow?  As the baby boomer generation of leaders approaches retirement, Masa Israel Journey is setting the pace in leadership development for the next generation by tapping into the passions of thousands of outstanding 18-30 somethings searching for a deeper connection to the Jewish people.  There are more than 9,000 young Jewish adults currently on Masa Israel programs, and more than 50,000 alumni. Fifty six percent of them have also taken part in Birthright Israel.
 
Masa Israel alumni are taking on entrepreneurial leadership roles, from chairing national conferences tostarting their own organizations. Others have assumed positions as Jewish communal professionals, tackling the challenges facing the Jewish community today.
 
“Following their 5-12 month-long Masa-sponsored internship, volunteer or study experiences in Israel, Masa Israel alumni return to North America not with new skills and the capacity to compete in today’s global economy, as well as with deeply rooted (and often new-found) passion for Jewish life and the desire to become part of a lifelong network of committed and connected leaders,” says Avi Rubel, director of Masa Israel Journey North America.
 
Elina Moyn, having left Latvia to escape religious persecution, always had a strong Jewish identity but knew little about the traditions or history.  After a Birthright trip to Israel sparked her interest in her Jewish identity, Moyn decided to spend her senior year at CU Boulder at the Masa Israel-accredited Tel Aviv University.
 
“Until I went on my Masa program, I did not feel as personally invested in the land,” Moyn says.  “But as I developed friendships with Israelis and lived an everyday life amongst the history I learned about in the classroom, my Jewish identity grew, with Israel at its center.” Today, Elina works as an Operations Manager for a Boulder trading company and teaches Hebrew school.  In the future, she hopes to work in international business with an Israeli company.
 
The anti-Israel sentiment at Concordia University compelled Toronto-native Alan Herman to return to Israel for a longer period of time after his first Birthright trip.  “Finding myself at an increasing number of pro-Israel rallies, I knew I needed a way to incorporate my passion for Israel into my daily life,” he says.
 
At Ben Gurion’s Masters in Middle Eastern Studies (MAPMES), Herman studied the Arab-Israeli conflict under the guidance of the Israeli scholar, Benny Morris, helped organize excursions to UNSCO (the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process) and the Israel-Palestine Center for Research and Information (IPCRI), participated in research on Jewish-Arab reconciliation, and took a course in the role of Canada in the Middle Eastern Peace Process.
 
After earning his Master’s degree, Herman returned to Canada and became a research associate at the Israel & Jewish Advocacy Research Institute, the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research. A year ago, he was accepted to the Quebec-Israel Committee for their Quebec Parliamentary Program.
 
For Rachel Olstein, it was not until she was an adult working in the non-profit sector that she discovered her place in the Jewish community. Though Olstein grew up in a large Jewish community outside of Boston, her commitment wavered as a student at Vassar College as she became involved in social justices causes unrelated to the Jewish community.  But when she found a community of Jews dedicated to tikkun olam and Israel, Olstein reentered the community and decided to explore her own connection to Israel.
 
“For thousands of years, Jews have wanted to be in Israel,” Olstein says.  “Not only did I feel privileged to be born into an era when it was possible to visit Israel, I felt obligated to spend an extended period of time there.”
 
Olstein enrolled in the Masa Israel-accredited Hebrew University Masters program in Community Leadership & Philanthropy Studies, where she focused her studies on organizations that pursue social justice from a Jewish perspective, but work to help populations beyond the Jewish community. Today, Olstein serves as Director of Volunteer Services for the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village in Rwanda, a residential community for orphaned children in Rwanda.

Masa Israel showcases career opportunities for young adults in Israel’s ‘green’ sector

Masa Israel showcases career opportunities for young adults in Israel’s ‘green’ sector

Masa Israel showcases career opportunities for young adults in Israel’s ‘green’ sector

October 31, 2009

Go Green in Israel campaign joins Hazon in cross-country eco-awareness tour
Masa Israel Journey recently launched ‘Go Green in Israel,’ an initiative to highlight opportunities for young adults in North America to study, intern or volunteer in the “green” or environmental sector in Israel. Masa offers programs ranging from environmental studies at Ben Gurion University and the Arava Institute, to internships at renewable energy startups, to volunteering on an eco-farm. Masa launched a microsite for these programs at www.gogreeninisrael.org.
 
To increase awareness of these opportunities, Masa partnered with Hazon, America’s largest Jewish environmental nonprofit organization, launching the Jewish Climate Change Campaign and Bus Tour at the United Nations Friday (Oct. 23). The bus, which was formally sent off by Janos Pasztor, head of the UN Secretary General’s Climate Change Support Team, is run entirely on bio-diesel fuels and loaded with seedlings to be planted by children in Jewish communities around the country.
 
Masa and Hazon staff will travel cross-country on the bus, making stops to promote Masa programs in New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Kansas City, Atlanta, New Orleans, Texas, Arizona, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Monterey, California.
 
“Israel is a world leader in innovation in fields like sustainable development, water conservation, and renewable energy, and a great place fore young adults from North America to prepare for cutting-edge careers in the green sector, while also connecting to their Jewish roots,” says Avi Rubel, North American director of Masa Israel Journey.
 
Masa is a joint project of the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Government of Israel and was founded in 2004 under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to encourage Jewish young adults ages 18-30 to study, intern or volunteer for a semester to a year in Israel.

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."

Sophie Graduates from Building Future Leadership

<div class="masa-blog-title">Sophie Graduates from Building Future Leadership</div>

 
By Sophia Krentzman, Building Future Leadership participant
 
Shalom everyone. My name is Sophia Krentzman and I am from the state of Massachusetts in the United States of America.
 

Masa Fosters Ties Between Universities in America and Israel

Masa Fosters Ties Between Universities in America and Israel

Masa Fosters Ties Between Universities in America and Israel

May 25, 2008

Masa & US universities create innovative long-term Israel programs to get more students to choose Israel as their study-abroad option.
Of the estimated 20,000 Jewish students from the United States who spend a part of their undergraduate studies on an organized program at a foreign university, only 10% choose to do so in Israel. Addressing this issue is one of Masa’s strategic goals, which is why Masa is facilitating and developing relationships between American and Israeli universities, with a view towards promoting study abroad programs in Israel.
 
“Currently, many Jewish students choose to study in other countries because they perceive Israel as an unsafe country or a place for Orthodox Jews,” says Avi Rubel, director of Masa’s North American operations. “If we can change this perception and connect these students’ home institutions with Israeli universities, we will have a great opportunity to bring more and more students to Israel.”
 
Of course, this initiative is equally beneficial to North American universities, many of which are seeking to ‘internationalize’ through mutually beneficial collaborative programs. Of the universities that initially expressed an interest in exploring this possibility, the first to take concrete steps in conjunction with Masa was Rutgers University in New Jersey. Following preliminary discussions, a fact-finding delegation from the Rutger’s School of Social Work visited Israel’s Ben Gurion University in Beer Sheva in April 2007.
 
The fact-finding visit yielded significant areas of mutual interest, highlighting opportunities for joint efforts between the two institutions. In addition to meeting with senior administrators and faculty at Ben Gurion University, the delegation also had the opportunity to visit Rahat, the largest Bedouin population center in Israel, to discuss Bedouin social issues and needs. They also met with officials from MASLAN, the Women’s Support Center of the Negev, and the National Health Services program (Kupat Holim Clalit), to discuss health needs of vulnerable residents of the Negev region.  
 
As a result of this visit, Rutgers decided to launch a Social Work study program in Israel. Established for three years. it is anticipated that the program will expand from a two-week study tour for advanced undergraduate and graduate students to a full semester study abroad program.
 
In the meantime, Masa is building ties with the study-abroad offices of major universities across the United States, as well as working with several major business schools, to explore the potential for undergraduate and graduate level programs in Israel.
 
“Currently, we are working with faculty and administration members from the University of Maryland, Washington University in St. Louis, Georgetown University and other Business Schools,” says Rubel. One expects that these efforts will contribute significantly to the effort to make Israeli universities a plausible and popular option among American Jewish students. 
 
By Aikin Ajayi (special supplement to Haaretz, May 2008)