Masa Fosters Ties Between Universities in America and Israel

Masa Fosters Ties Between Universities in America and Israel

Masa Fosters Ties Between Universities in America and Israel

May 25, 2008

Masa & US universities create innovative long-term Israel programs to get more students to choose Israel as their study-abroad option.
Of the estimated 20,000 Jewish students from the United States who spend a part of their undergraduate studies on an organized program at a foreign university, only 10% choose to do so in Israel. Addressing this issue is one of Masa’s strategic goals, which is why Masa is facilitating and developing relationships between American and Israeli universities, with a view towards promoting study abroad programs in Israel.
 
“Currently, many Jewish students choose to study in other countries because they perceive Israel as an unsafe country or a place for Orthodox Jews,” says Avi Rubel, director of Masa’s North American operations. “If we can change this perception and connect these students’ home institutions with Israeli universities, we will have a great opportunity to bring more and more students to Israel.”
 
Of course, this initiative is equally beneficial to North American universities, many of which are seeking to ‘internationalize’ through mutually beneficial collaborative programs. Of the universities that initially expressed an interest in exploring this possibility, the first to take concrete steps in conjunction with Masa was Rutgers University in New Jersey. Following preliminary discussions, a fact-finding delegation from the Rutger’s School of Social Work visited Israel’s Ben Gurion University in Beer Sheva in April 2007.
 
The fact-finding visit yielded significant areas of mutual interest, highlighting opportunities for joint efforts between the two institutions. In addition to meeting with senior administrators and faculty at Ben Gurion University, the delegation also had the opportunity to visit Rahat, the largest Bedouin population center in Israel, to discuss Bedouin social issues and needs. They also met with officials from MASLAN, the Women’s Support Center of the Negev, and the National Health Services program (Kupat Holim Clalit), to discuss health needs of vulnerable residents of the Negev region.  
 
As a result of this visit, Rutgers decided to launch a Social Work study program in Israel. Established for three years. it is anticipated that the program will expand from a two-week study tour for advanced undergraduate and graduate students to a full semester study abroad program.
 
In the meantime, Masa is building ties with the study-abroad offices of major universities across the United States, as well as working with several major business schools, to explore the potential for undergraduate and graduate level programs in Israel.
 
“Currently, we are working with faculty and administration members from the University of Maryland, Washington University in St. Louis, Georgetown University and other Business Schools,” says Rubel. One expects that these efforts will contribute significantly to the effort to make Israeli universities a plausible and popular option among American Jewish students. 
 
By Aikin Ajayi (special supplement to Haaretz, May 2008) 

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."

Like Kissing Through a Handkerchief

<div class="masa-blog-title"> Like Kissing Through a Handkerchief</div>

 
By Josh Spiro, Tel Aviv University
 
A recent talk by popular Israeli authors Etgar Keret and Alona Kimhi drew students to the Hebrew University in Jerusalem from as far as Haifa, Be'er Sheva, Tel Aviv and Arad, through rain that would have made Noah double-check his caulking. If the students were expecting unorthodox opinions, they were not disappointed.
 

Have Diploma, Will Travel

<div class="masa-blog-title">Have Diploma, Will Travel</div>

By David E. Kaplan
 
For young adults fresh out of college, the world is an oyster. Before finding a fulltime job, taking a mortgage and joining the daily grind, thousands of college graduates choose to head to the four corners of the world to discover and explore.
 
"It's an extension of our education," one could say, whether standing in Trafalgar square, on the upper peak of Mt.
 

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.
 

Inside Look into Masa Israel through Executive Director Ezrachi

<div class="masa-blog-title">Inside Look into Masa Israel through Executive Director Ezrachi </div>

 
By Erin Kopelow
 
"Israel, is about to celebrate its 60th birthday," Masa Executive Director Dr. Elan Ezrachi says with an air of determination, "and the Jewish world of today is dramatically different than what it was sixty years ago."
 
The level of growth Israel has experienced over these past sixty years has significantly changed the face of this country.
 

Masa Sets Multi-Year Commitment from Israeli Prime Minister

Masa Sets Multi-Year Commitment from Israeli Prime Minister

March 22, 2007

Today the Israeli government announced that it is making a multi-year commitment to support the Masa project, so that it can continue to bring thousands of young Jews to Israel for a five to 10 months to participate in volunteer and study programs.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert convened the meeting in which he stressed the critical importance of the project and pledged to support and continue the program whose goal is to bring more than 20,000 participants a year to Israel on long-term programs.
 
Since its start two years ago, there has been a 100% increase in the number of long-term Israel programs offering a wider range of options for young Jews from the Diaspora.  As a result, the number of young Jews that come to participate in these programs has more than doubled to 8,000.
 
The Prime Minister’s statement is a vote of confidence in the project and its ideals. 
 
Among the plans discussed for Masa over the next two years were increasing the number of participants to 20,000 a year, an emphasis on programming in the areas of the Negev and the Galilee, a fusion of the Masa programs with every facet of Israeli society, and the formation of a bond between Israelis and Jewish communities all over the world.
 
Executive Director of Masa Elan Ezrachi highlighted the project's values to the Israeli society: each participant of Masa contributes a minimum of 20 hours of community service. In total, the participants give about 200,000 days of volunteering to Israel, in a variety of social and cultural environments.  Moreover, each participant returns to his or her home community stronger, more committed and better equipped to succeed.  
 
Masa was created and is funded by the Prime Minister’s Office and the Jewish Agency. The budget for this year’s project was $36 million; half of which was allocated by the government of Israel and the other half by the Jewish Agency and private donors. This year, approximately $22 Million is being spent on scholarships and grants for 5,000 participants. In 2007-2008, Masa expects to bring 9,500 participants, the highest number ever, with a budget of $48 million.