Partnership 2000 Hosts 72 Masa Israel Participants for a Day of Jewish Peoplehood Activities

Partnership 2000 Hosts 72 Masa Israel Participants for a Day of Jewish Peoplehood Activities

Partnership 2000 Hosts 72 Masa Israel Participants for a Day of Jewish Peoplehood Activities

April 5, 2011

By P2K volunteer Rebecca Kofman, Beit Shemesh
 
Masa Israel participants in its annual Building Future Leadership Conference in Jerusalem enjoyed a full day of activities arranged by Partnership 2000 (Beit Shemesh-Mateh Yehuda-Washington-South Africa) in Bet Shemesh on March 8.
 
Highlight of the day was the interaction between the Masa Israel young adults and the first, second and third graders at Jabotinsky Elementary School. Together they created Shabat placements to share with their overseas friends in the Jewish Primary Day School in Washington, DC. The schools have been in the P2K school Twinning project for over three years.
 
As the Jabotinsky principal Bracha said, “It was hard at first for the Jabotinsky youngsters to realize that there were actually Jews who live outside Israel. Now through video conferencing they have accepted that, and this year we are focusing on the similarities and differences between how Israeli and American Jewish children celebrate the holidays.” Having actual committed Jewish young adults who live outside Israel come and do a project with the Jabotinsky students really helped them to understand not only that Jews do live outside Israel but that they also love Israel.
 
After completing the Jabotinsky project, Masa participants were joined by 17 Israeli young adults from Branco-Weiss High School, the P2K student program and a local Garin for an interviewing project to meet local residents and complete a worksheet about their family origins, life in Bet Shemesh, etc. In groups of 3 or 4, the young people spread out through Migdal Hamayim on market day to speak with vendors, cab drivers, pedestrians and others to get a taste of the variety of backgrounds and interests of local city inhabitants.
 
Next the Masa participants and local Israeli youth gathered at Matnas Psagot HaSheva where they broke into four groups to discuss various aspects of Jewish Peoplehood, based on their interview findings. They tackled some tough issues about Jewish identity, religious practices and enabling future generations to be informed and enthusiastic about being Jewish.
 
As one participant reported at the end of the day, “Through this experience I may not become a Jewish leader on my college campus next year, but I will be able to counter positively and powerfully any negative remarks made about Israel and Israelis.”
 
Note: Masa Israel sponsors numerous extended stay opportunities for youth from abroad to travel, study and do community service projects throughout the country. Over 10,000 young Jewish adults are in Israel this year in various Masa programs.
 

Leadership Training Program: Empowering the Next Generation

Leadership Training Program: Empowering the Next Generation

April 5, 2011

Masa Israel Journey’s Building Future Leadership program gives young adults tools and connections to make a difference in their communities
(New York, NY) – This week, 500 exceptional young adults will participate in Building Future Leadership, Masa Israel Journey’s intensive, weeklong leadership program in Israel.  Chosen from nearly 10,000 individuals from all over the world who are studying, interning, and volunteering in Israel, Building Future Leadership prepares young adults to fill leadership positions when they return to their campuses and communities.
 
With young adults’ increased interest in Jewish communal work following their time in Israel, Masa Israel, a joint project of the Government of Israel and the Jewish Agency for Israel, is committed to helping its alumni stay involved. Jewish campus and communal organizations are now actively seeking Masa Israel alumni to take leadership positions upon their return home.  Organizations involved in the Building Future Leadership program include the Jewish Federations of North America, the Israel on Campus Coalition, Hillel, PresenTense, and AVI CHAI.
 
“Masa Israel’s Building Future Leadership is one of the important ways that we are preparing young Jewish adults for future leadership opportunities following their immersive Israel experiences,” said Masa Israel’s North American Director, Avi Rubel.  “I believe that the growing pool of Masa Israel alumni will play a decisive role in connecting their peers to Israel and in strengthening their home Jewish communities.”
 
Building Future Leadership’s weeklong events include discussions about critical issues facing the Jewish people, leadership skill development sessions focused on entrepreneurship, public speaking, and networking, trips to the Knesset and Yad Vashem, and meetings with social activists and community leaders.  Participants can choose to focus on Israel education, Israel advocacy, social justice and tikkun olam, or Jewish peoplehood.
 
In the workshop, “From Vision to Reality,” participants will also be able to outline a project they hope to pursue in their home communities.
 
Last year, Jordana Gilman, a Nativ gap year participant, created a project focused on bringing interfaith programming to campus and connected with Cornell’s Hillel rabbi so that he would anticipate her arrival.  Now as chair of interfaith programming and Jewish education and culture at Hillel, Gilman is planning a civil rights seder.
 
“It was truly a growing experience for everyone, and it personally made me very excited for the next year,” said Gilman. “I came out of the conference with some solid, realistic, ready-for-action program plans and college-level leadership techniques.”
 
The Building Future Leadership program will take place in Jerusalem from March 6 – 11, 2011. A follow-up meeting will take place on May 23, 2011.
 
For more information about Building Future Leadership, contact Masa Israel’s Director of Public Relations, Rachel Trager at (917) 371-5569 or racheltr@masaisrael.org and visit www.masaisrael.org/bfl.

Meet Masa Israel

Meet Masa Israel

 
Masa Israel’s team combines professional expertise with volunteer passion to connect young Jewish adults to 5-12 month immersive, life-changing experiences in Israel. Masa Israel participants will change the world, and we are proud to help them on their journey!

For Participants

For Participants

Welcome to the Masa Israel Community. Make it yours.
 
 
Congratulations! You’ve chosen a program, your bags are packed, and you’re ready to take the next step on your Masa Israel Journey.
 
As you prepare to join more than 10,000 young Jewish adults from 42 countries who are about to embark on the journey of a lifetime, we encourage you to take a look at the adventures that await you. Join the Masa Israel Community at community.masaisrael.org and share your excitement with fellow participants from your program and all the other programs. Connect with alumni from previous years to get advice before, during, and after your trip.
 
The Masa Israel Community offers additional seminars, concerts, lectures, and other extracurricular activities throughout the year. Add another dimension to your program, build new networks, and reconnect with old friends. 

Community Photos

  • Building Future Leadership 2012

connect with fellow participants and alums

Gap Year

Intrigued by the opportunity to spend a semester or year experiencing another culture, volunteering, interning, studying, developing your Jewish identity or having an adventure before you head off to college?
 
A gap year in Israel with Masa Israel Journey offers college-bound high school graduates the opportunity to acquire a global perspective and to gain a taste of independent living all while having an incredible Israel experience.
 
Many leading universities in North America encourage admitted students to defer entrance for a semester or a year to explore their interests before deciding what to study in college.
 
Israel offers thousands of years of Jewish history, cities that fuse the ancient with the modern, a variety of ethnic communities living side by side and global leadership in many of today’s most relevant fields—it's the ideal place to take a year "on" before college.   
 
Your gap year program awaits. Find it here.
 

Getting Together Before Saying Goodbye

Getting Together Before Saying Goodbye

Getting Together Before Saying Goodbye

December 9, 2010

After spending 2010 in Israel on various Masa Israel Journey Gap-Year programs, 150 participants from the 6 Zionist Youth Movements and Israel By Choice gathered in Be’er Sheva at the annual “Sikkum Seminar.”
The seminar was run by the Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA), supported by the Pratt Foundation, in partnership with the Australian Zionist Youth Council and Masa Israel Journey. Philip Chester, ZFA President, said that “the support of the Pratt Foundation has been integral in making this seminar possible and we thank them for their commitment to this important project.”
 
“Sikkum means conclusion or closure, but really we were opening the participants up to the concept of translating their Israel experiences into personal and communal practicalities as well as exposing them to some of the core communal elements that they will be encountering upon their return” said seminar coordinator Dara Podjarski.
 
The seminar began with a ceremony at the Pratt Foundation’s Park of the Australian Soldier and Military Cemetery in Beer Sheva, which commemorate the Australian victory in World War I that took place in that city. The park represents the relationship between Australia and Israel while simultaneously commemorating history. At the ceremony, Brandon Alter, speaking on behalf of Israel by Choice, said that this generation must learn a lesson from the heroic charge of its fellow Australians “and stand up for our beliefs and Israel’s right to exist.”
 
The main aim of the seminar is to prepare the participants for their return to Australia/New Zealand and an active role in community life. The two days were spent discussing the roles and challenges that they will face, engaging in round table discussions with ex-youth movement bogrim, ex-shlichim and community leaders, covering a range of macro and micro issues and looking closely at working with key communal partners such as AUJS, schools, communal organisations.
 
The seminar concluded with a guest speaker (Nir Tsuk, Director of Ashoka Israel), who provided deep insight into the power of youth and brought home the idea and the power of being a changemaker.
 
Yigal Sela, ZFA Israel Office Director, describes it in the following terms: “They have spent the year peeling away at every layer: from the Jewish world at large, to their local Jewish community, to their youth movement and their inner-self. Sikkum seminar is about putting those layers back together and becoming whole again.”
 
Upon return, these 150 participants will make valuable contributions to the Jewish community for the years to come.
 

Sharron Topper-Amitai: Bringing Greater Phoenix to Israel and Israel to Greater Phoenix

Sharron Topper-Amitai: Bringing Greater Phoenix to Israel and Israel to Greater Phoenix

April 12, 2011

Now on her second shlichut in Phoenix, Arizona, Sharron Topper-Amitai had her first taste of international Jewish communal work 10 years ago in Manchester, England.
“I was there for two years and I loved every minute of it,” she says. While there, she created Jewish and Israel-related programming for Jewish community members of all ages and started a youth from the northern Jewish communities of the UK.
 
“My husband and I were both born in Israel and it’s been very important for us to work in Jewish communities outside of Israel,” she says. “I love being able to learn about diverse Jewish identities, while sharing my own experiences as an Israeli.”
 
Following her return to Israel, Sharron worked as a JCC director in Israel before setting out on her second shlichut in Phoenix. There, she works to bring Israel into her community’s daily life through concerts, movies, lectures, discussions, and other cultural events.
 
One of Sharron’s main aims has been to introduce college students and young professionals to Israel through Birthright trips and Masa Israel programs, experiences that often follow each other.
 
“When they decide they want to go, we sit together and discuss their options. Then they go and I’m so excited because I know what Israel does to people,” she says.  “They return with sparkles in their eyes and tell me that it was ‘amazing.’ What I love is when they ask me how they can contribute to their local Jewish community and how they can return to Israel.”
 
To keep the momentum going from their Israel experiences, Sharron created an Israel alumni group where Phoenix-based Birthright and Masa Israel alumni meet to take part in Israel-related events. “The work isn’t finished when they enroll in their programs. It’s just as important to keep them connected to the Israel Center when they return,” says Sharron.
 
At a recent Arizona State University graduate fair, where Sharron represented Masa Israel academic programs, Sharron felt especially prideful about her work. “I’ve gone to many recruitment fairs, but I was shocked when I entered a huge hall filled with tons of representatives from universities throughout the United States,” says Sharron. “My first thought was, Israel al-hamapah, which literally means, Israel is on the map. It was incredibly exciting see that Israel had a presence among all those institutions. Lots of people stopped by to show their support and learn about graduate programs in Israel.”
 
Sharron is thankful for the opportunity to be a shlicha today. “We live in an era when Israel and Judaism are changing so quickly. Although it’s a challenge to influence what’s happening, it’s a privilege to be able to try,” says Sharron. “I believe that Masa Israel programs certainly make a huge difference.”
 
Sharron is being honored with Masa Israel’s “Outstanding Achievement in Recruitment” award the this year’s Kenes Shlichim, a conference for Israeli emissaries from across North America.

Extended Stays in Israel Create Leaders

Extended Stays in Israel Create Leaders

November 15, 2010

Participation in semester or year programs in Israel is directly linked to stronger Jewish affiliation and leadership — regardless of the Jewish background growing up, a study commissioned by Masa Israel Journey finds.
Masa Israel, a joint project of the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Israeli government which serves as an umbrella for 180 semester and year programs in Israel, commissioned the study to measure the efficacy of long term Israel programs for future Jewish involvement and affiliation.
 
The study was conducted by Prof.  Steven M. Cohen, director of the Berman Jewish Policy Archive at NYU Wagner and research professor of Jewish social  policy at the Hebrew Union College, and Dr. Ezra Kopelowitz, principal of Research Success.
 
The study found that the longer the program on which participants spent time in Israel and the more repeated the experiences, the greater the level of Jewish identification.
 
The study surveyed more than 13,000 Israel program participants, more than 11,000 of whom were Americans, and most of whom had been on either a short-term experience or a Masa program from 2005 to 2010, or both.
 
It compared three groups who had been on short-term programs:
 
  • those who been on Birthright and not returned to Israel
  • those who returned to Israel for another short term; and
  • those who had been on Birthright, and then went on a Masa Israel program.
 
The study also examined two other groups who had been on long term programs only: those non-Orthodox young adults who had been on Masa without going on Birthright, and those who were raised Orthodox and had been on Masa.
 
These two groups reported far stronger Jewish background and childhood Jewish education than did the three Birthright groups.
 
The study found that with each subsequent Israel experience, the level of Jewish engagement rose significantly.
 
For example, for the married respondents, among those who did Birthright and had not returned subsequently to Israel, 50% married a Jewish spouse; among those who did Birthright and returned to Israel subsequently for a short term, 70% married Jews; among those who did Birthright followed by Masa, as many as 91% were in-married.
 
In other words, short term program graduates who never returned to Israel reported intermarriage rates close to the national Jewish average for people their age.
 
In contrast, those who went on to participate in a Masa program were far more likely to marry Jewish, doing so in more than nine out of 10 instances.