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.

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."

Masa Participants Attend Presidential Conference

Masa Participants Attend Presidential Conference

Masa Participants Attend Presidential Conference

May 13, 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."

Masa Celebrates its Fourth Year, and Israel's 60th

Masa Celebrates its Fourth Year, and Israel's 60th

Masa Celebrates its Fourth Year, and Israel's 60th

April 29, 2008

Thousands of Masa participants, dignitaries and guests gathered in Latrun on Thursday night to celebrate Masa's 4th year and Israel's 60th anniversary.
Over 5,000 Masa Israel participants gathered in Latrun on the evening of May 22nd to celebrate their year in Israel and the contribution they have made while participating in a long-term Masa-affiliated program.  
 
Those in attendance were treated to a high-caliber show that included addresses by Israeli Prime Minister Mr. Ehud Olmert and the Chairman of the Jewish Agency Mr. Zeev Bielski, musical and visual performances by Israeli artists such as Teapacks and Tararam, and a laser light show and spectacular fireworks display finale.
 
"It was really cool that Masa went out of its way to put on something special for us," said Los Angeles native Jordan Kwok of OTZMA. "I was impressed by how big the event was and the whole energy it had about it. And it was great to see how many participants were there." 
 
0ver 25, 000 young Jews from around the world have participated in a Masa-affiliated program since Masa's conception in 2004. This year (2007-8) witnessed the largest participant numbers to date with over 8,000 participants coming to Israel from 50 countries.  
 
Deborah Laks of Costa Rica, who co-hosted Masa LIVE with fellow Building Future Leadership (BFL) participant Noah Serbin of the United States, confessed, "Living in Israel makes me feel I finally belong somewhere. Israel has given me so much. It has definitely become my home, and this has been all thanks to Masa."

Women's Shabbaton analyzes Religious Zionist Movement's evolving relationship with Israel

<div class="masa-blog-title">Women's Shabbaton analyzes Religious Zionist Movement's evolving relationship with Israel</div>

Women from six different Masa Orthodox programs took part in Masa's 60 Years of Israel, 100 years of Zionism Shabbaton over the weekend of January 11th-12th.
 

Participant Spotlight: Matt Bar

<div class="masa-blog-title">Participant Spotlight: Matt Bar</div>

 
By Erin Kopelow
 
Through the combination of business, creative and educational exposure at the PresenTense Institute for Creative Judaism and the Pardes Institute for Jewish Studies, Matt Bar's Bible Rap Project has the potential to become an educational enterprise in Hebrew school classrooms around the world. 
 
“I ain't heard a sound from your side just silence / my hands are
 

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.

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.