Address by PM Netanyahu to Masa Participants

Address by PM Netanyahu to Masa Participants

Address by PM Netanyahu to Masa Participants

May 5, 2010

Transcript of Prime Minister Netanyahu's address to a group of long-term Israel program participants.
"One of history's greatest empires, the biggest one, was the Soviet Union. At the height of its dominion, brave men and women – many of them Jewish – challenged this enormous power with the force of their conviction, faith and raw courage. And foremost among them was my friend and your patron, Natan Sharansky. Natan was put in jail, in a cellar, before being put on trial and sentenced to a long prison term. The judges asked him what he had to say on his behalf and he answered: “I have nothing to say to you, but to my wife Avital and to my people, I say – Next Year in Jerusalem!”
 
That’s a pretty important statement, and it expresses the basic idea.
 
You and your parents are all young. But your grandparents and great-grandparents remember a world without a State of Israel. It was a very different place and, for generations, Jews hoped for a change. They prayed and yearned for only one thing – “Next Year in Jerusalem!”
 
62 years ago, the most remarkable transformation in the history of any nation took place. A "dead" people resurrected itself and returned to Zion. They rebuilt their national life, their state and their army, and reassumed control of their collective destiny. This is the story of the Jewish people, and it's unlike the story of any other nation in history. Many other peoples have disappeared. In fact, most of the nations we know from antiquity no longer exist. Many were exiled or dispossessed, and many were killed. No people has ever come back from the dead. But this is our people and, through a remarkable transformation in our history, we have recreated the Jewish state – with its own government, territory, army and amazing economy. There's still more to do, but we're doing better than many of the places you’ve come from.
 
You may be too young to know this, but 20 years ago, people used to say that it’s impossible to do business in Israel. And we would reply that Israel can actually be an attractive place – a home for Jewish business, Jewish entrepreneurs and brainpower. We could even envision Jews making money in Israel. You’re not laughing, but this used to be a joke. It isn't anymore. Today, we have a country, a government, an army and a thriving economy, and we’re quickly becoming a global power in technology.
 
This is all crucial, but it’s not enough. The most important thing is our spirit, and the most critical part of spirit is identity. And there's a great revolution taking place right now within the Jewish world. It's a revolution of spirit and identity – and you’re all a part of it. I salute you for being here and expanding awareness – your personal awareness and that of young Jews everywhere. What a privilege it is to be a member of the Jewish people! What a privilege it is to come to the Jewish State! What a privilege it is to shape the future of the Jewish people! These are all great privileges.
 
How do we strengthen identity? By appreciating who we are. Studying our past to understand our present and chart our future. Suppose you didn’t know your family. Suppose you didn’t know the story of your parents – where they came from, what they did. If you grew up isolated from your personal history, you’d be a very different person, very confined and narrow. And you’d be missing a tremendously important part of your identity – who you are and what you can be.
 
We share a collective identity and a great history, not like that of any other nation. It goes back almost four thousand years. Imagine that you didn't know about it. Imagine that you had such a privilege, but weren't aware of it. What we’re doing right now, all of us together, is making people conscious of our rich past. And once you know the past, you can understand how the Jewish people has arrived here. We can shape our future. But you can only know where you’re going, if you know where you've come from.
 
We all came from here. And we all come back to here. And I want you to consider this fact: Your identity is not simply a function of your individual character. Your uniqueness, part of your unique identity, is also a function of your membership in the Jewish people.
 
And I also want you to consider how you feel. You’ve already been here for a while and had an opportunity to see the country and participate in various programs. But you've had another opportunity – whether you've come from the United States, Canada, France, Russia, Mexico or Australia
 
These are all great countries, but this is your country. This is your country! And when you walk here, I'm sure you don’t even wonder who else around you is Jewish. Right? It’s a perfectly natural question, but not one that you ask here – because this is your country. There are other countries that are also free and democratic, but this is your country! This is your Jerusalem! This is your home!
 
So I just have one request.– Explore your deeper self and ask yourself – I know that this is a tough question for someone who is only 18 or 22 – where you feel most at home. The time you've spent here has been valuable, but I think you'll find even greater value in deciding to stay here permanently. We invite you to join us in building the future of the Jewish people in our land. Welcome home to the Land of Israel, the State of Israel and Jerusalem."

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.

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
     

Joseph Kluger and Brett Lusky, Otzma students Visit Weitzman School in Akko

<div class="masa-blog-title">Joseph Kluger and Brett Lusky, Otzma students Visit Weitzman School in Akko</div>

 
By Joseph Kluger, OTZMA
 
Why would you ever want to live in Israel? This is the first question one of my best friends asked me when I told her I was moving to Israel for 10 months on a program called OTZMA. The thought of living in Israel was never on my mind 2 or 3 years ago.
 

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.

Alumni Spotlight: Rachael Rubens, Iraqi War Veteran

<div class="masa-blog-title">Alumni Spotlight: Rachael Rubens, Iraqi War Veteran</div>

 
Service in the United States Army is anything but easy, and being a Jew in the military only complicates matters further. 
 
One of only a handful of Jews in the army, I was barraged with questions about Judaism, most of which I lacked the knowledge to answer adequately.  Upon completing my service, some of which I spent in Iraq, I headed back to the Middle East to learn Hebrew at the Masa Israel Journey-accredited Ulpan Akiva program, hoping to gain the necessary skills to learn more about my religion.  While in I
 

Masa Israel Reaches 9,300 Participants

Masa Israel Reaches 9,300 Participants

February 11, 2010

The number of Masa Israel participants has reached 9,300 in 2009-2010, up from 8,200 last year.
Masa Israel North America Director Avi Rubel says the increase is a direct result of the rising number of upcoming and recent college graduates and young professionals pursuing internship, community service and graduate academic opportunities in Israel.
 
“Today’s constricted economy has prompted many young Jewish professionals at the beginning of their careers to see Israel as a place where they can gain more professional experience before tackling the job market,” says Rubel. “Investing five to 12 months in an internship or volunteer experience in Israel differentiates them from their competition, and provides them with international experience that puts them a step ahead as they re-enter the workforce.”
 
Since August 2008, Masa Israel has received more than 9,000 inquiries about internship, service and study opportunities in Israel in reaction to its campaign, “Israel. A Better Stimulus Plan."
 
Adi Clerman, a 26-year-old Masa alumna whose story recently appeared in the Chicago Tribune , signed up for Career Israel after she lost her job as a recruiter at JPMorgan Chase in 2008. She interned for five months an American marketing firm in Tel Aviv, and filled a gap in her resume.
 
“When people asked me, ‘You got laid off in August 2008, what have you done since then?’ I had a really great answer,” Clerman told the Tribune. Now she’s back in Chicago working as an admissions representative at Harrington College of Design.
 
Masa Israel’s wide variety of internship, volunteer and study opportunities in Israel offer placement in leading international companies as well as in government and non-profit organizations. Graduate academic programs at Israeli universities offer North American students advanced degrees with professors who previously taught at Columbia’s Business School, NYU’s Stern School of Business, Duke University, the University of Chicago and other prestigious institutions.

Chicago Tribune: Americans chase internships abroad as a gateway to work

<div class="masa-blog-title">Chicago Tribune: Americans chase internships abroad as a gateway to work </div>

Last week, the front page of the Chicago Tribune business section had an above-the-fold story reporting on young adults heading abroad for professional experience. And guess what the lede of the story was? That’s right. Opportunities in Israel. Check it out:
 
By Julie Wernau, Tribune reporter
 

Israel Draws Young Professionals

Israel Draws Young Professionals

Israel Draws Young Professionals

December 29, 2009

They come from Prague, St. Petersburg, New York City and Columbus, Ohio, but the these young professionals all have one thing in common: They are living and working in Israel on Masa’s post-graduate program.
Masa participants met with Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky on December 24, 2009, at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem. Also participating were representatives from Masa the Jewish Agency, and the Begin Center.
 
Masa, a gateway to long-term Israel programs sponsored by the Jewish Agency and the Government of Israel, offers a variety of programs for young people on their “Gap year,” the year immediately after high school graduation, as well as for post-graduates (ages of 21-30), many of whom have advanced degrees.
 
“The post-college program is our biggest growth industry,” said Alan Hoffmann, the Jewish Agency’s Director General of the Education Department. The 2009-2010 year brought 9,000 young people to Israel – 2,400 on the post-graduate programs. “Our goal is to bring one out of five young Jews from across the globe to Israel,” said Hoffmann.
 
The post-graduate programs offers a wide range of choices from working on an ecological farm in Modiin to training in a Kibbutz dance program. The Israel Government Fellows Program (IGF), for example, places young professionals in internships in a range of government ministries, including the Justice Ministry, Finance ministry, and Civil Authority. There are currently 24 fellows on the IGF program.
 
Another post-graduate program, the Masa Career Israel track, matches 250 young people each year with over 300 internships in places such as hotels, consulates, and the high tech industry.
 
“Israel wasn’t a target for professional internships before, but now this gives young people the kind of global experience that they can put on their resume,” said Ayelet Shiloh-Tamir, CEO of Masa.
 
Igor Zaystev, 24, is a good example. “My parents thought I was crazy to quit my job and come to Israel,” said Zaystev, a graduate of Baruch College in New York who is now interning at the Tel Aviv University Hillel. “But [this program] has enabled me to tell my parents that I am getting professional experience that I can put on my resume.”
 
Born in Kiev, Ukraine, Zaystev moved to New York at the age of six.  He intends to return to the States after the completion of his internship. “I want to spread my experience with others and play a larger role in Israel advocacy to young people,” he said.
 
Like the other participants at the personal meeting with Sharansky, Zaystev expressed his gratitude for the scholarships offered through Masa. Scholarships range from $3,000 for a four month program to $7,500 for a 10-month program. “Without the Masa grant I wouldn’t be here,” he said.
 
For Jessica Jaffe, 28, participating in the Tikun Olam program in Jaffa has broadened her worldview.  “This has been absolutely amazing. It’s such a special program that has really opened my eyes. I wanted to deepen my experience and do something outside my comfort zone, and this struck my interest in getting closer to my Jewish identity in a way that was not forced. This program fosters coexistence. You live and work in a mixed community with Arabs, Sudanese, Ethiopians and Jews,” she said.
 
Before embarking on the post-graduate Masa program, Jaffee graduated from Rochester University and worked for five years in market research in New York.
 
Other post-graduate participants who attended the meeting included Matthew Goodman from New York who is currently on the WUJS program that offers support for artists and writers, Melissa Holcomb from Columbus, Ohio, who is on the Israel Teacher Corps,  Alexandra Kazen from St. Petersburg, who has an M.A. in physics and is participating in the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company in northern Israel, and Stepan Kliment from Prague who is studying at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies.