Israel Becomes World Leader in Sustainable Volunteer Programs

Abril 5, 2011

Masa Israel Journey launches immersive, grassroots service projects in Israel, teaming up American and Israeli volunteers to meet communities needs
(New York, NY) In response to traditional volunteer programs that have Americans parachuting in and out of countries worldwide with no long-term effects, Masa Israel Journey recently launched two new, integrated volunteer programs that team up American and Israeli volunteers to create sustainable projects in Israels underserved periphery.
 
Through the five-month Yahel Social Change Program, Americans work with Israeli grassroots organizations to create community-driven educational projects in immigrant communities. In the 10-month Ma’ase Olam program, Americans join Israeli peers in their own communities and volunteer with local NGOs.
 
A joint project of the Government of Israel and the Jewish Agency for Israel, Masa Israel has nearly 10,000 participants, and 16 post-college programs exclusively dedicated to service.
 
“As with any country, Israel has tremendous needs,” said Avi Rubel, Masa Israel’s North American Director. “Masa Israel aims to dramatically increase the number of young adults who choose Israel and partner with Israelis in doing meaningful service and volunteer work.”
 
The Yahel Social Change Program, based in Gedera, launched in 2010 with six North American participants, five of whom stayed on for the spring 2011 semester. By teaming up with Ethiopian-Israeli volunteers from Friends by Nature, a local not-for-profit organization that seeks to empower the Ethiopian community in Israel, they are volunteering in academic assistance programs, teaching English and working in community gardens, as well as meeting social activists and learning about issues of immigration, community empowerment and sustainability.
 
“With our grassroots efforts, we cannot expect to fully see the impact of our work during our stay, but we can plant seeds and help to create new and innovative sustainable projects,” said Drew Fidler, Yahel Social Change Program participant. A graduate of New York University’s School of Social Work, Fidler collaborated with Friends by Nature to launch a project, which seeks to prepare Ethiopian youth to work at Jewish summer camps in North America.
 
Ma’ase Olam’s inaugural program for North Americans and Israelis will run from September 2011-June 2012. They will live communally, study Hebrew, receive professional training, work on joint volunteer projects with diverse communities, and learn about the social and cultural complexities of Israeli society.
 
To speak with volunteer program alumni from your area, please contact Masa Israels Director of Public Relations, Rachel Trager at (917) 371-5569 or racheltr@masaisrael.org. 
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