MasaFest 2012 featuring the Idan Raichel Project

MasaFest 2012 featuring the Idan Raichel Project

October 29, 2012 - 19:00

  Jerusalem, Israel  - 

Join us as we kick off the 2012 – 2013 season! Meet new friends from all over the world and begin your journey with the rest of the Masa Israel Community.
Idan Raichel is a widely acclaimed Israeli singer/songwriter and founder of the Idan Raichel Project.
 
Cost – 40 NIS
 

Project Keshet

Project Keshet

May 3, 2013 (All day)  -  May 5, 2013 (All day)

  TBA, Israel  - 

Project Keshet is acollaboration between Masa Israel, Machon L'Madrichim, UJIA, UJS and the British youth movements to bring Zionist Jewish youth together.
(Open to Shnat British participants)

Project Keshet

Project Keshet

January 13, 2013 (All day)  -  January 15, 2013 (All day)

  TBA, Israel  - 

Project Keshet is acollaboration between Masa Israel, Machon L'Madrichim, UJIA, UJS and the British youth movements to bring Zionist Jewish youth together.
(Open to Shnat British participants)

Yachad Gap Year

Yachad Gap Year

Program: 
 

Yachad

http://www.masaisrael.org/sites/default/files/Yachad.jpg

Program Description

Yachad Gap Year is the ultimate Israel immersion experience, offering you the opportunity to learn, volunteer and explore Israel in Israeli Mechina programs with Israeli peers.   For more than 20 years, these prestigious programs have been offering amazing experiences for Israeli high school grads, and now you can join them!  And there's a Mechina program for every taste—non-religious, Reform, Orthodox and mixed; and any place in Israel you like.
 
If you're ready to create strong and lasting bonds with Israeli peers—if you're ready to have a deep and meaningful experience that you'll cherish for a lifetime—if you're ready to give back to Israeli society and to the Jewish people—then Yachad Gap Year is for you!
 
Yachad Gap Year represents the following Mechinot:
- Beit Yisrael (Jerusalem)
- BINA (Tel Aviv)
- B'nei David – all-boys Orthodox (Eli)
- Galil Elyon (Upper Galilee)
- HaEmek (Beit She'an Valley, Northern Israel)
- Lachish (Negev Desert, Kibbutz Beit Guvrin)
- Meitzar (Golan Heights, Kibbutz Meitzar)
- Nachshon, Mehina Israelit (Northern Negev Desert)
- Rabin (Kiryat Tivon, near Haifa)
- Telem (Jaffa, Tel Aviv)
- Tzahali – all-girls Orthodox (near Ashkelon)

Highlights

Your year in Yachad consists of Learning, Volunteering, Exploring Israel and Life in the Group:
 
Learning: Each Mechina program has a talented and highly-trained teaching staff that will conduct discussion-based classes on Israeli society, Zionist history, Jewish studies, Jewish identity, philosophy and more.
 
Volunteering: You'll be active in the community where you live, by working in public schools and after school programs, visiting with elderly populations and contributing to the community through special projects.
 
Exploring Israel: Throughout the year you'll have seminars for several days to explore different parts of Israel. And some Mechina programs hike the "Israel Trail," which spans all of Israel from the southern tip of Eilat, all the way to the most northern point of the Galilee.
 
Life in the Group: You'll be part of a self-governing community in the Mechina program that makes all the major decisions governing life in the group.  You'll serve on committees that determine everything from how to divide up the group food budget, to planning trips and seminars, to inviting guest speakers and performers for cultural evenings.
 
Yachad is the ultimate Israel immersion experience, because you're in totally Israeli programs with Israelis your own age the whole time!  You and your Israeli peers govern every aspect of life, from dividing up the group food budget, to planning seminars and trips.  And you can choose between a broad variety of programs, for every level of observance, and in every part of Israel!

 

Filling the gap: Year after high school creates opportunities for learning, exploring in Israel

Filling the gap: Year after high school creates opportunities for learning, exploring in Israel

Filling the gap: Year after high school creates opportunities for learning, exploring in Israel

August 9, 2012

By Sue Hoffman 
 
For Rebecca Levinsky of Beachwood, the idea of going to college – even to an Ivy League university – right after high school didn’t spark the excitement she was looking for.
A graduate of Gross Schechter Day School in Pepper Pike, Hathaway Brown School in Shaker Heights and @Akiva Hebrew High School in Beachwood, Levinsky postponed starting Yale University in New Haven, Conn., in fall 2010 to spend the school year at Mechinat Beit Yisrael, an educational program for Israeli high-school graduates who defer their army service for a year.
 
“I had an incredible experience learning about Israeli society and culture in a way that few Americans my age can say that they have, and I became completely fluent in Hebrew,” said Levinsky, who just completed her first year at Yale. She’s back in Israel this summer for an internship at the Israel Museum and to coordinate the Yalies in Israel summer program.
 
When she was a high-school junior, Levinsky had visited Mechinat Beit Yisrael during a trip to Israel with Write On for Israel, an advocacy and journalism program of The AVI CHAI Foundation, @Akiva and Cleveland Jewish News.
 
“I remember thinking that the kids at the mechina were doing the coolest thing I’d ever seen my age doing, and I wanted to be part of it,” Levinsky said. “Falling in love with the program, more than anything else, was what motivated me to pursue taking a gap year.”
 
During her year in Israel, she said, “We lived in a public housing project in the Gilo neighborhood of Jerusalem and spent about half our time volunteering with children in the neighborhood and half our time studying. We also took three trips around the country – one to the north, one to the south and one to the West Bank. We lived together as a group and did everything together, from cooking our meals, to making decisions about what topics we wanted to study.”
 
Levinsky, who will return for her second year at Yale this fall, is one of several Cleveland-area teens who have found fulfilling “gap-year” opportunities in Israel and elsewhere before starting college. “If you’re considering taking a gap year, you should do it,” Levinsky advises others. “I can’t think of anyone I know at school who has regretted taking a gap year, but I have so many friends who wish they had. But choosing the right program is crucial.”
 
Opportunities abound
Opportunities for a gap year in Israel abound, according to Masa Israel Journey regional coordinator Mirit Balkan at the Jewish Federation of Cleveland. Masa (Hebrew for “journey”) is an umbrella organization with more than 200 different programs that involve study, travel and volunteer work in Israel.
 
The inspiration for Masa, which started in 2003, came from former prime minister Ariel Sharon, Balkan said. “He said every Jew in the Diaspora needs to spend an immersive year in Israel.
 
“Today, we see more and more kids going on a gap year,” said Balkan, an Israeli who lives in Shaker Heights with her husband Yaron and children Ori, 6, and Romi, 4. “The gap year is a win-win. Students are having fun and relaxing, and they are more motivated to go to college. Parents are happy because the experience strengthens their Jewish identity.”
 
After spending a gap year in Israel, 79% of students say that being Jewish is very important to them, and 66% say they want to marry someone Jewish, Balkan said. The program also inspires contributing to the community.
 
Students earn 12 to 15 credits during their Masa gap year and have a multi-cultural experience. Masa gives $1,000, and different programs offer ways to help financially. All Masa programs provide accommodations.
 
“I hear more businesses say, given two similar resumes, they’d prefer the one with the gap year,” Balkan said.
 
Balkan also referred to Harvard University’s positive view of the gap year. The college of admissions has recommended a gap-year experience for 40 years, according to the university’s website, which continues: “Perhaps the best way of all to get the full benefit of a ‘time-off’ is to postpone entrance to college for a year … Normally a total of about 50 to 70 students defer college until the next year. The results have been uniformly positive.”
 

Jewish Federation of Greater Washington Reaffirms Its Commitment to Connecting Young Adults To Israel

Jewish Federation of Greater Washington Reaffirms Its Commitment to Connecting Young Adults To Israel

June 26, 2012

Generous donation will fund recruiting position dedicated to increasing participation in the Masa Israel Journey program.
WASHINGTON – The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, long-time supporters and creators of young adult engagement and programming, is proud to announce the addition of a full time professional to serve as an ambassador for The Jewish Agency for Israel's Masa Israel program. This program connects Jewish young adults to gap year, study abroad, post-college, and volunteer programs in Israel. 
 
Matching funds from the government of Israel will be paired with a generous contribution from a local donor to support the program for two years. The new professional will have two primary focus areas including 1) double the local participation of young adults in the Masa Israel program from 130 to 270 participants by implementing a wide range of recruitment activities and 2) connect with Masa Israel participants upon their return to Greater Washington to help successfully integrate them into Jewish life. The creation of the new position will be crucial in reaching important goals that will more meaningfully connect young adults to Israel and Jewish life.
 
Federation President Stuart S. Kurlander stated “Greater Washington continues to lead the way in its unwavering commitment to young adults. We recognize that exposing this constituency to Israel in meaningful ways will create a solid foundation for a next generation of Jews who will exhibit strong support and commitment to our homeland.”
 
Since its inception in 2004, Masa Israel has brought more than 65,000 young adults to Israel. The program has grown by 1,000 or more new participants each year. One of Masa Israel’s major growth areas is the post-college age cohort (21–30) with more than 50% being alumni of Taglit-Birthright Israel. Masa Israel participants have many opportunities to engage with one another through special seminars, holidays and Shabbat observances. These activities build connections with Israeli peers and other Jewish young adults.
 
"Masa Israel is thrilled to enter into a new partnership with The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington to achieve our mutual goal of increasing the number of Taglit: Birthright Israel returnees and other young adults who participate in immersive Israel programs.  Our new staff person will also play a vital role in ensuring that alumni of Masa Israel programs in Greater Washington become activated and engaged as emerging Jewish communal leaders" shared Avi Rubel, Masa Israel North American Director.
 
Steven A. Rakitt, CEO of The Federation shared, “We are grateful to the generous donor whose commitment will make it possible for more Washingtonian young adults to take part in this important immersive Jewish experience." This gift exemplifies Federation’s interest and willingness to approach philanthropy from a new perspective. We believe that more and more donors will see us as their partners prepared to respond to their interests and turn their philanthropic dreams into reality." 

Washington Jewish Week: Bringing young Jews to Israel

Washington Jewish Week: Bringing young Jews to Israel

June 13, 2012

There's an incredible program that has brought more than 65,000 Jewish young adults to Israel since it started in 2004.
It is called Masa Israel, and its focus is on post-college age Jews. Well over 50 percent are alumni of Taglit-Birthright Israel.
 
Masa Israel Journey is a partnership of the Jewish Agency for Israel and the government of Israel and a partner of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. Masa brings more than 10,000 young Jews per year to Israel on a range of gap-year, study-abroad, and post-college internship and volunteering programs. There are more than 140 Washington, D.C.-area participants this year on Masa Israel programs.
 
One of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington efforts to bring as many Jews as possible "under the tent" involves young adult engagement and programming. To that end, a local donor is matching funds from the government of Israel to support Masa Israel by hiring a new professional for two years. That person will have two primary focus areas - doubling the local participation of young adults in Masa Israel from 130 to 270 participants and connecting with Masa Israel participants upon their return to the Greater Washington Jewish community to help them successfully integrate into Jewish life.
 
Integration into Washington-area Jewish life should be underlined here. I know that a nephew of mine went to Israel via Birthright. He came back and announced it was the best 10 days of his life. That was three years ago. Since then, nothing. Not a word about Israel, not an expression of desire to return to the Holy Land.
 
When I asked him if he had been contacted or if there was any follow-up, he admitted that there had been contact, but that he didn't return the call or the email.
 
Federation President Stuart Kurlander has said from day one of his presidency that opening up Federation opportunities to young adults was a huge priority.
 
"We recognize that exposing this constituency to Israel in meaningful ways will create a solid foundation for a next generation of Jews who will exhibit strong support and commitment to our homeland," said Kurlander.
 

Welcome Back from Israel with "Bezalel on Tour" at Sotheby's in Chicago

Welcome Back from Israel with "Bezalel on Tour" at Sotheby's in Chicago

July 19, 2012 - 18:00  -  July 19, 2012 - 20:00

Sotheby’s 188 E. Walton PlaceChicago, IL  - 

Welcome back from Israel! Join other young adults recently returned from Birthright, Masa or the YLD Summer Trip to Israel as we take in the artwork of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design Jerusalem, right here in Chicago. 
Enjoy wine and cheese and share your Israel experiences with others. This event is free of charge.
 

Ten Thousand Masa Alumni Preparing for Their Next Steps in Israel, Abroad

Ten Thousand Masa Alumni Preparing for Their Next Steps in Israel, Abroad

June 15, 2012

By Sarah Bronson, Jewish Agency staff
 
Adrian Rubenstein, 23, of Leuven, Belgium and Brooklyn, New York, was having trouble finding a job in International Politics in the New York area. 
At his father's advice, he came to Israel and performed a Masa-sponsored internship through Career Israel, at the French Chamber of Commerce. "If you don't know what you are doing after college," he advised, "come to Israel on Career Israel. You aren't photocopying papers for bubkas. You're doing meaningful work, really learning about your career."
 
When Adrian Rubenstein, 23, graduated from college last year and couldn't find a job in his field in either of his two hometowns of New York City or Leuven, Belgium, his father suggested he go to Israel. A year later, Rubenstein is finishing what he called "a dynamic, very interesting" internship with the French Chamber of Commerce in Israel, a resume-builder he found through Career Israel and Masa Israel Journey. Reflecting on his experience, he said he gained not only a line on his CV, but a new way of seeing Israel and Judaism.
 
"Living here has shown me the diversity of Israel," he said. "I've met people with lots of interesting ideas about religion, from different religions and different types of Judaism. Belgium is very secular; living in Israel has shown me that religion is very personal and can be what you want it to be. I plan to be more involved in the Jewish communities in Brooklyn and Belgium when I get home."
 
Rubenstein was one of thousands of young adults ages 18-30 who streamed into Jerusalem's Binyanei Ha-umah International Convention Center tonight to commemorate the end of their long-term trips to Israel with Masa Israel Journey.
 
Masa, which is funded jointly by The Jewish Agency for Israel and by the Israeli government, provides grants and scholarships for Jews from around the world to participate in any of over 200 programs through which they can intern, study, or volunteer for a period of 5 to 12 months. The program aims to strengthen the relationship between Israel and young people who grew up abroad. In the past year, over 10,000 young people came to Israel through Masa.
 
Highlights of the end-of-year program, called "My Masa, My Journey," included an address by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu; a discussion with Natan Sharansky, Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency; a performance by the internationally-acclaimed Israeli dance troupe Mayumana; and a panel talk by some of Israel's most prominent athletes.
 
After viewing a short film clip about Sharansky's life, the audience sat in rapt attention as he related details about his years in a Siberian prison, including the method by which he and other prisoners turned their toilets into makeshift telephones, and communicated via Morse code through the walls.
 
"What is happening with young Jews coming to Israel," he said of Masa, "is that they discover here they have roots, they have a state. They have a family. They may be critical of Israel, but they say 'I'm speaking up, because Israel is me.'"
 
Prime Minister Netanyahu emphasized the importance of becoming a spokesperson for Israel once the Masa participants return to their countries of origin. "You're taking back with you something very, very precious," he said. "The truth. You can speak the truth about Israel, and that's what I want you to do. Defend Israel by saying the truth and by being proud. Proud of being Jewish, proud of your heritage, proud of your homeland."
 
Speaking up and speaking the truth is just what Nellie Alimi, 23, of Paris, plans to do when her Masa program is over. Through the organization Gvahim, Alimi has been performing a Masa-sponsored internship at a high-tech company. "I want to stay in Israel, but I got a job offer in England I plan to take," she said. "But I know that even outside the country, I can represent and defend Israel."
 
Nellie Alimi, 23, of Paris, performed an internship at the high-tech company Nice Systems, through the Gvahim program, sponsored by Masa. "I want to stay in Israel, but I got a job offer in England I plan to take," she said. "But I know that even outside the country, I can represent and defend Israel."
 
Alimi said that she had formerly spent a year in Israel as a university student, but that her experience as an intern gave her an opportunity to experience Israel surrounded by adults. "Students are full of hopes," she observed, "but grownups deal with reality. Many of my coworkers are more pessimistic than I am, and said that I'm naïve about peace and about the future of the country. I was forced to define and defend my ideas, and to show them that I may not know what it means to lose someone in the army, but I do know what anti-Semitism is, and we can bring peace – you don't have to be pessimistic."
 
Hadassah Mendoza, 25, of Miami, was inspired by her Taglit-Birthright trip to return with Masa, with the stipulation that "I couldn't justify staying in Israel for so long unless it was contributing in some way to my resume." Through Masa and Israel Government Fellows, the Political Science graduate has been performing an internship at Israel's Ministry of Trade and Labor.
 
Haddassah Mendoza, 25, of Miami was in Israel on the Israel Government Fellows program, sponsored by Masa. She was inspired by Birthright to return for a longer period, and performed an internship at the Ministry of Trade and Labor. "Instead of just planting a seed, now I have roots here and a relationship with Israel," she said.
 
The value of staying in Israel for several months or a year, she said, is "instead of just planting a seed [such as on a short trip], now I have roots here, and a relationship with Israel. Going to Masada and the Dead Sea one time is not the same as shopping at the shuk for your food and running after buses. And my Hebrew is better now; it's a good sign when you can negotiate with a taxi driver in Hebrew and feel good about it."
 
One of Masa's younger participants was Max Rudolph, 19, of Portland, Oregon; he spent nine months on the Young Judaea Year Course, which combines volunteer services with Hebrew-language studies.  "I was a High Holiday Jew, and that probably hasn't changed," he said of what he has learned. "But I understand more, and yes, now I want to marry Jewish. And I'll defend Israel on campus if there is slander against it. I definitely plan to come back to Israel to visit."
 
Max Rudolph, 19 of Portland, Oregon, was in Israel on the Young Judaea Year Course. "I was a High Holiday Jew, and that probably hasn't changed," he said of what he learned. "But I understand more, and yes, now I want to marry Jewish. And I'll defend Israel on campus if there is slander against it. I definitely plan to come back to Israel to visit."
 
Originally published by the Jewish Agency for Israel | Photo credit: Perry Bindelglass
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