Masa-GLI Global Leadership Summit: What A Week!

<div class="masa-blog-title">Masa-GLI Global Leadership Summit: What A Week!</div>

This past week, I had the incredible opportunity to take part in a life changing summit on leadership, hosted by Masa.  I came home with a loss of words (literally and figuratively, as I had lost my voice) at how this week has changed my life. This summit brought together 200 young adults from all over the world to learn together about leadership, adaptive change, and how we can use these topics in our lives here and when we go back home.  I met people from North and South America, all over Europe, Africa, and Israel that had all chosen to take a week from their lives to come together and share in this experience.
 
 
 
Within the 200 people, we were all split into groups of around 25 people, and my group truly became my family during the week.  #FruitSalad #Group3isthebest! We spent at least one or two sessions together everyday not only to learn and overcome different challenges, but we spent time discussing challenges some of the group members were currently having in their various Masa programs.  I presented a challenge I felt that I am facing, and the group was so incredibly supportive and had an amazing brainstorm session of ways I could tackle and overcome the problem.  For lunch on Wednesday, many of us went to a hummus place, because there’s no more Israeli way of solidifying new friendships than sharing hummus!  5 days was not nearly enough time to spend with this wonderful family I now have.  I cannot wait to be able to spend weekends in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and elsewhere in Israel visiting these people.  We have only been apart a few hours at this point, and I am already missing them so much!
 
 
When I was not with my home group, we split into different elective workshops.  My favorite one was learning about narrative development and how we can effectively use our stories to create change in the world.  During this workshop, our facilitator spoke briefly about the best way to tell our stories, and then we spent a majority of the time practicing these skills in small groups.  Since this workshop happened to be on the last full day of the summit, I had become quite close with everyone, I decided to write mine on invisible disabilities and my recent Lupus diagnosis.  I used this platform to talk about how it is important to be supportive of everyone you meet, because you never know what challenges they may be facing.  My small group then encouraged me to share my story with the entire workshop group.  It was so uplifting to be able to feel comfortable to share my story with everyone, after only learning about my Lupus a few months ago.  Afterwards, I had multiple people come up to me and say how inspired they were, because they were facing similar challenges, and it showed me how important it is to be open about this part of my life.
 
Overall, I truly believe that words cannot even begin to skim the surface of explaining the experience I have had this week.  From the new friendships I have gained, to the skills and knowledge I learned, the Masa-GLI Global Leadership Summit has given me tools that I am now able to take into the rest of my life.  I do not remember ever attending a conference that has been so helpful.  To all of my new friends, I cannot wait to come visit you soon!
 
Written by Tami Greenberg who is currently a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow in Migdal HaEmek. To follow her Journey read more at her blog wherethefalafelami.wordpress.com.
 

The Jerusalem Post: US University Delegation Seek Intern Partnerships

The Jerusalem Post: US University Delegation Seek Intern Partnerships

November 16, 2016

By Tamara Zieve

 

Masa Israel Journey strive to make country a landmark on path to success for American students

A delegation of faculty members from 10 leading US universities are in Israel this week to explore the country’s hi-tech and business scene with a view toward developing internship programs here for their students.

 

Masa Israel Journey, a partnership between the Jewish Agency and the Israeli government, organized the visit together with the Foreign Ministry, to help US students build their careers with hands-on experience of Israeli academia and industry.

 

“The fact that these executive directors have chosen to arrive to Israel in order to get to know it and explore ways their students can benefit from an internship in Israel, is amazing,” said Adi Barel, director of international business development at Masa.

 

“On these campuses, either you face an anti-Israeli discourse or you don’t hear about Israel at all.”

 

By sending senior faculty members on the delegation, she said participating universities are sending a message.

 

“When these internship programs shape up, senior individuals from the public and the private sectors will arrive at the universities for professional matters. It brings out an all new side about Israel, which is more professional. This is a wonderful platform for Israel to be talked about in a very legitimate and non-political way,” she remarked.

 

Masa delegation

A Masa-organized delegation here to explore internship opportunities for US university students posts for a picure on Sunday with Jerusalem's Old City as a backdrop. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 

While in Israel for the weeklong visit that began Friday, the delegation, which consists mostly of directors of career services and development, is meeting with CEOs and start-up founders and visiting universities and companies such as the Hebrew University, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Teva, WeWork and Deloitte. Because it is the first time in Israel for most of the 12 visitors, they also are visiting local landmarks such as Masada and the Dead Sea.

 

By introducing members of the delegation to industry leaders, Adi Hila, director of business development at Masa, said the initiative seeks to create the best opportunities for both students and schools while striving to “assist them to become even more successful in their fields and make a positive mark on their life path, making Israel part of their success story.”

 

Masa hopes the program will not only lay the foundation for future collaborations, but also send new ambassadors for Israel back to US campuses.

 

The organization seems to have succeeded with Alane De Luca, director of global employer relations at Northeastern University. As the group enjoyed dinner at the Cnaan restaurant in Tel Aviv on Monday night, De Luca gushed about her experience, telling The Jerusalem Post she is keen to send her children to visit the country.

 

“I love the intersection of cultures,” she said. Northeastern University already sends students for internships in Israel, and De Luca hopes to develop the partnership with Masa further.

 

Lars Gilbertson, director of undergraduate studies at Tulane University, said the emphasis on Israel as the Start-up Nation resonates with New Orleans citizens, who had to rebuild their city after Hurricane Katrina.

 

“There’s been an explosion of entrepreneurship after the hurricane and, now that I’m here... I can see firsthand and start to understand how Israel has been forced to innovate,” he remarked, noting Israel’s fast pace, technological savvy and outward focus on global markets.

 

“It’s really exciting to see, and I feel my students would greatly benefit from coming here and developing their own global perspective,” he added.

 

“I’m exploring the potential for students who develop technology to gain deep insight into what it takes to start a start-up,” he continued. “I’d love to see them come here to take courses and do an internship and then go home and apply the lessons they learned. I think it would give them a tremendous advantage to have flavorings of the Israeli business model and I think it would be a decisive competitive edge.”

 

Andrea Dine, executive director of the Hiatt Career Center at Brandeis University, called collaborating with Israel a “natural outgrowth” of the university’s history because it was founded by the Jewish community in 1948, still has deep ties with the Jewish community and still has a significant Jewish population on campus. Given that a number of the university’s students visit Israel regularly, she said there is a natural affinity for the Masa program.

 

Originally published in The Jerusalem Post

Institute of International Education’s New Report Lists Israel in Top 25 Study Abroad Destinations

Institute of International Education’s New Report Lists Israel in Top 25 Study Abroad Destinations

November 21, 2016

Data Shows Steady Increase in Student Travel to Israel Over Past Two Years

NEW YORK – This week, the Institute for International Education (IIE) named Israel one of the top 25 countries for study abroad in its annual “Open Doors” report. The report, one of the United States’ leading resources on higher education and study abroad data, pointed to a growing number of American students studying overseas, with Israel as one of the leading destinations.

 

Israel was the 23rd most popular destination for students studying abroad in the 2014-2015 school year, according to the report. Over 3,300 students were in the country throughout 2014-2015, a 15 percent increase from 2013-2014.

 

Ruth Alfandary, Director of Academic Programs of Masa Israel Journey, released the following statement in response to the release of the Open Doors report:

 

“The Institute for International Education’s report reaffirms what we’ve long witnessed on the ground: that students who come to Israel have experiences that broaden their world views, advance their careers, and put them on the path to success, making our ‘Start Up Nation’ one of the world’s most desirable study abroad locations.

 

“Masa Israel journey is proud to connect young people with study abroad opportunities that allow them to learn both inside and outside of the classroom, at elite universities and within local communities. We are confident that the trend identified in the IIE report will only continue to rise as more university students across the U.S., including Masa Israel alumni, share their stories and take advantage of everything that Israel has to offer.”

 

###

 

Masa Israel Journey is the leader in immersive international experiences in Israel. Masa Israel connects young people ages 18-30 who are seeking to enrich their personal and professional growth with the top gap year, study abroad, service-learning and career development opportunities. A project of The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Government of Israel, Masa’s subsidized, individually tailored programs, immerse participants in the community and embark on a journey that will change both the course of their lives, and of the Jewish people’s future. More info at @MasaIsrael and on Facebook.

 

For more information contact: Sara Koenig, West End Strategy Team

SKoenig@westendstrategy.com; Office: (212) 498-9300; Cell: (917) 420-0303

Jewish Journal: Election Night 2016: The Sights and Sounds in Los Angeles and Israel

Jewish Journal: Election Night 2016: The Sights and Sounds in Los Angeles and Israel

November 10, 2016

By Orit Arfa, Contributing Writer

 

11:41 a.m. PST (9:41 p.m. local time), Abraham’s Hostel, Tel Aviv

 

“Let’s make America great again!” shouts an 18-year-old Texan, standing near the DJ booth as three screens hover above the dance floor of the Abraham Hostel.

 

Tonight, Masa Israel Journey, which brings young adults to study, intern and volunteer in Israel for several months, united participants through an election viewing event expected to go until 2 a.m. local time (4 p.m. in Los Angeles). Another participant repeats Trump’s campaign slogan.

 

“I don’t know who’s being sarcastic anymore,” says 24-year-old Michigan native Josh Linden, currently teaching English in Israel. He cast his absentee vote for Clinton. “I haven’t met anyone here voting for him yet but I haven’t been asking.” (The Texan, by the way, voted for Clinton.)

 

As a DJ tried to rev up the crowd with some hip-hop, with results still hours away, most of the people were lounging around, schmoozing over beer, or playing pool or table soccer. None seemed too worried about the United States, either way.

 

Maybe their comfort playing “Israeli” for the past two months has contributed to a feeling of detachment in the air. And while Abraham Hostel is so named for being a place that fosters peace among people, the crowd doesn’t seem to need the reconciliatory touch. Judging from a straw poll, Sara Eisen, the program’s chief communications officer, said most of the participants are Clinton supporters. But she attributes their laid-back attitude tonight to the nature of the program.

 

“I think, in general, people come to Israel to grow and to expand and to change — minds are wider,” she said.

 

Max Moser, 27, of Los Angeles and currently a fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, didn’t want to reveal his choice.

 

“I’m not excited about the election like most Americans,” he said. “I feel like there’s really a lack of leadership in the United States government.”

 

Does this make him more inclined to make aliyah? Israel’s newest holiday, Aliyah Day, celebrating immigration to Israel, fell on Nov. 8.

 

“I’m considering aliyah but not because of the national election, at all.”

 

Originally published in the Jewish Journal

72 Hours with Masa

<div class="masa-blog-title">72 Hours with Masa </div>

The Hebrew word Masa translated to English literally means journey and the staff of Masa have spent the last 72 hours on an epic one. Our Masa North America team landed in Washington D.C. on Sunday for the GA, the Business Development team is leading a delegation of top U.S. university professionals through the startup nation and 200 Masa participants have begun the Masa GLI Global Leadership Summit in Jerusalem.


You may be thinking, wow, one company in so many places but for Masa, it’s the norm. Check out the images below for a closer view of our staff, participants and most of all the good vibes from the last 72 hours!

 

Masa GLI Leadership Summit Gala:

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2016 North American Career Development Delegation:



 

Masa North America at the GA:

 

To stay up-to-date with Masa Israel Journey, follow us on Facebook and Instagram @MasaIsrael!

 

eJewish Philanthropy: Thousands of Masa Israel Participants Gather for Welcome Event

eJewish Philanthropy: Thousands of Masa Israel Participants Gather for Welcome Event

November 2, 2016

Masa Dance Party

Masa Israel Journey 2016-2017 gap year participants start an impromptu dance party in the lobby of Jerusalem’s ICC, in preparation for Masa Israel’s annual welcome event; photo by Ran Biran.

Masa Israel Journey held its annual Welcome Event on Monday evening in Jerusalem.

 

Masa Opening Event

Participants (including interns, volunteers, and students) celebrated the transformative experiences that await them together; photo by Ran Biran.

 

The gathering serves to officially welcome thousands of the 12,000 18-30 year-olds who have recently arrived in Israel to participate in dozens of long-term Israel programs including gap years, study abroad, internships, teaching English to young students, and other post-college initiatives.

 

Masa Hatikva 6

Israeli reggae band Hatikva 6 on October 31, 2016, at Jerusalem’s ICC; photo by Ran Biran.

 

With Israeli TV personality Jason Danino Holt as emcee, participants were entertained by live music from Yemenite electronic folk band A-WA and Israeli reggae group Hatikva 6. American-Israeli comedian Benji Lovitt hosted a Jewish geography game show.

 

Masa Opening Event

Participants from the United States and Russia show off their national pride; photo by Ran Biran.

 

“We bring thousands of Masa Israel Journey program participants together at this pep rally-style event, so they can get a taste of the exciting journey they each have ahead of them,” said Masa Israel Journey CEO, Liran Avisar. “We want all of our participants to understand that they are now part of a community larger than themselves, and a network that goes far beyond the specific programs on which they are enrolled. Together, we will celebrate Israeli culture and get our participants excited about experiencing Masa Israel their way – “My Masa” – so they can make the most of the transformative time in Israel to come.”

 

Originally published in eJewish Philanthropy

The Times of Israel: Professionalizing the Study Abroad Experience for the 21st Century Economy

The Times of Israel: Professionalizing the Study Abroad Experience for the 21st Century Economy

The Times of Israel: Professionalizing the Study Abroad Experience for the 21st Century Economy

October 18, 2016

By Ruth Alfandary

 

Leading universities around the world have offered study abroad programs for decades. Less common, however, is these universities enabling international students to successfully link the overseas classroom experience with resources and professional development opportunities that exist off-campus.

In the 21st century global economy and ever-increasingly competitive job market, international professional experience sets recent graduates apart from other candidates.

 

Yet, despite college graduates having a more sophisticated, globally minded and achievement-oriented perspective than ever before, according to a 2014 study cited by NAFSA: Association of International Educators, nearly 40% of companies surveyed reported missed international business opportunities due to their lack of personnel with global professional experience.

 

Like domestic work experience, international internships allow students to develop professional skills like interpersonal communication and cross-organizational collaboration. However, navigating the workplace in another culture and language adds layers of complexity and nuance to the entire experience.

 

In Israel, start-ups, nonprofit organizations, tech companies, and the hospitality and tourism industry, among other sectors, rely on interns they are connected to through Masa Israel Journey programs to help them expand their businesses and break into global markets. Masa Israel is the go-to source for Israeli companies because it introduced the concept of the professional internship to the Israeli workplace.

 

At Israeli companies, interns are truly welcomed into the office, often treated as full team members, with the responsibilities and projects that come with such roles. As a result, former interns report acquiring professional skills and experiences incomparable to what they could have learned through a domestic internship. In a small country like Israel, it’s easy to find yourself rubbing elbows with leading entrepreneurs and public figures at professional events and when simply out and about meeting people

 

In order to meet the needs of both Israeli businesses and international students, both Tel Aviv University and the University of Haifa now offer the opportunity for students to pursue professional internships as optional complements to traditional study abroad programs. Masa Israel’s partners at other major Israeli universities are working to develop similar semester and/or combined summer study and internship programs to meet career-driven students’ needs and ensure they are providing valuable experiences that truly add to students’ professional backgrounds.

 

Israel is home to more start-ups per capita than any other country in the world. This means students get the chance to work at tech companies, as well as in the sustainability sector learning about water conservation and alternative energy. Other students participate in internships that suit their political interests, going to the Knesset every day, doing research at think tanks, attending international conferences, and participating in investigative excursions. And for students committed to social change and activism, Tel Aviv and Haifa give them access to communities of change makers and social entrepreneurs, as well as nonprofit organizations.

 

Next spring, Tel Aviv University will partner with Yahel – Israel Service Learning, to premiere its new Community Action in Tel Aviv semester. Students study abroad part-time at Tel Aviv University and volunteer part-time at organizations engaging in bettering the community, by, for instance promoting women’s empowerment, working toward regional peace and coexistence, and providing services to African refugees and asylum seekers in Israel. In addition to their coursework and internships, students will participate in workshops and trainings in cultural sensitivity and cross-cultural communication, methods of community empowerment, and other topics relevant to creating social change.

 

Tel Aviv University and the University of Haifa also provide career counseling and mentoring for student interns and require students, in order to receive academic credit for their internships, take a career development course guiding them in applying a range of communication and management tools during their internships.

 

Whether exploring career options in tech, sustainability, diplomacy, or any other industry, an international internship broadens and deepens the academic, professional, personal and immersive experience that is a semester or year abroad. At the same time, these programs help to develop a more internationally experienced workforce as students, upon graduating, are in a position to work at companies and organizations that, often for the first time, now have the teams to pursue international business opportunities.

 

 

Originally published in The Times of Israel

The Jerusalem Post: Masa Program to Bring 13,000 Jewish Youth to Israel in Coming Year

The Jerusalem Post: Masa Program to Bring 13,000 Jewish Youth to Israel in Coming Year

October 13, 2016

By Lidar Gravé-Lazi

 

Some 13,000 Jewish youth are expected to come to Israel this coming year to participate in Masa, the organization announced on Thursday.

Benjamin Netanyahu takes a selfie with Masa participants.

Benjamin Netanyahu takes a selfie with Masa participants.

(Photo Credit: REUTERS)

 

The program provides Jewish youth the opportunity to participate in over 250 immersive Israel programs ranging in length from six months to a year, which include internships, study abroad programs, and volunteer opportunities. These experiences aim to give participants practical academic or work experience while strengthening their connection to Israel.

 

The Masa program is set to officially launch on October 31st during a ceremony in Jerusalem with the participation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Natan Sharansky, head of the Jewish Agency.

 

“The youth arrive to Israel to participate in a wide range of Masa programs, from government, to economy and culture, hi-tech, teaching English, medicine and more,” Liran Avisar-Ben Horin, CEO of Masa said.

 

She noted that in addition Masa provides participants with tools to engage in hasbara (public diplomacy) for Israel, turning those who take part into informal ambassadors for Israel to the world.

 

“Every year they show that the year they spend in Israel – working, volunteering and being exposed the multi-layered and complex Israeli society – becomes the most meaningful in their lives,” she said.

 

According to a recent survey conducted by Midgam Institute and released by Masa, some 87% of Masa participants said they intend to actively work towards strengthening Israel’s image in the world, while 81% of participants said their vision of Israel “changed for the positive” because of participating in the project.

 

Slightly more than half, 58% of respondents, said they would “certainly” act against the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement.

 

Since its founding in 2004 by the Prime Minister’s Office and the Jewish Agency, over 120,000 young Jews from around the world have participated in Masa programs.

 

 

Originally published in The Jerusalem Post

Inside Tel Aviv University's Study Abroad + Internship Program with Dana Sherman

<div class="masa-blog-title">Inside Tel Aviv University's Study Abroad + Internship Program with Dana Sherman</div>

My experience at Tel Aviv University was incomparable to any other internship or abroad experience I had in the past. I spent seven months living in Tel Aviv, in which both the semester abroad and internship portion exposed me to new and exciting aspects of Israeli life, culture, society, and religion. 

 

I chose to study abroad in Tel Aviv for a specific reason. Ever since my first visit to Israel in 2011, I have been curious about the intricacies that plague Israel's political, social, and economic sectors. In 2011 when I traveled to Israel with a youth group, we were brought to Rothschild Boulevard to see the social justice protests taking place. For miles, we saw tents, makeshift houses, posters, and protesters. I recognized that Israel was not just a state that I was expected to love as a Jew, but rather had real issues affecting the livelihoods of its citizens, whether they were Jewish, Muslim, or anything else. As I study criminal justice and international affairs at the George Washington University in D.C., I am interested in learning about how different judicial and political systems affect civil societies advancements in modern culture. Therefore, studying abroad in the modern, flourishing city of Tel Aviv seemed like my best option.

 


After a five month semester at Tel Aviv University, I was able to take many classes in Israeli politics, Middle Eastern history, and Hebrew from a wide range of professors. My understanding of the paradoxical dynamics of Israeli society expanded more than I expected. Towards the end of the semester, I landed an internship at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies; a think tank that produces policy-relevant research and recommendations on national security and foreign policy as it relates to Israel and Middle Eastern issues. I worked as a Research Assistant for the director of the center, Efraim Inbar. At my internship, I independently contributed to three separate projects regarding Australian-Israeli relations, Abu Mazen's current standing in the PA, and Israel's interest in the Chinese economy. I participated in international conferences, table talks, and strategic tours in the West Bank and on IDF bases. My experience with the Begin-Sadat Center was remarkable. Choosing to stay in Tel Aviv this summer and work for a company in a country that has so much to offer in my field of study was the best decision I could have made.

 

 


My seven months living in Tel Aviv surpassed any previous experience I ever had. Leaving America in January and knowing I would not be home until late July seemed like a long time to be away from friends and family, but looking at the big picture and seeing everything I gained from this experience, I could do it for another seven months. I recommend the semester and summer internship program to anyone who is willing to step out of their comfort zone just a little bit and trust the people of Israel to take them in, teach them, and help show them what they can accomplish in such a short period. I'm grateful and thankful for the friends I made, the professors who educated me, and my colleagues who taught me.

 

 

Written by Dana Sherman, Tel Aviv University Alumna '16

 


 

 

eJewish Philanthropy: Fostering Long-Term Engagement with Israel is Simpler Than You Might Think

eJewish Philanthropy: Fostering Long-Term Engagement with Israel is Simpler Than You Might Think

eJewish Philanthropy: Fostering Long-Term Engagement with Israel is Simpler Than You Might Think

September 11, 2016

By Liran Avisar, CEO of Masa Israel Journey  

 

For all the Jewish day schools, summer camps, trips to Israel, anti-BDS conferences, and campus advocacy trainings, the American Jewish community continues to grapple with how to successfully foster long-term Israel engagement among the next generation of Jewish leaders. In recent years, countless resources from all corners of the community have been devoted to helping form or reinforce lasting bonds between young Jews and the State of Israel. And yet, from a political, spiritual, cultural and public relations perspective, most communal stakeholders remain mystified as to how to make Israel matter for millennials in the long run.

At the risk of stating the obvious, there is one proven solution to creating a solid foundation for a lifetime of engagement: spending months living, studying and working in Israel.

 

Over the course of 12 years leading the field of top immersive international experiences in Israel, we have learned some important lessons. Namely, that the firsthand encounter with day-to-day life in Israel, which can only be attained by being on the ground for a sustained, continuous amount of time, makes all the difference to our 120,000 alumni around the world.

 

When we look at what distinguishes loosely affiliated American Jews who understand what’s at stake when it comes to Israel’s future from their similarly affiliated peers, we consistently return to the fact that those “in the know” have spent a substantive amount of time experiencing Israel.

 

Our participants immerse themselves in their local communities in Israel, and as a result, spend time getting to know Israelis and end up caring more about the well-being of the State of Israel. Masa Israel Journey’s “off the bus” experiences empower individuals to embark on unique journeys that enrich their personal and professional growth, and create durable connections to Israel.

 

Israel is made up of a diverse mixture of communities: religious and secular, native-born and immigrant, Jewish and Arab, urban start-up and rural agriculture. Working with and among these populations for a significant time; learning and living Israel’s complex landscape, both past and present; and developing one’s own narrative belonging to this place and its people – one’s own People – is more valuable than any single injection of information or dose of emotion meant to immunize against Jewish and Israel apathy.

 

The courage to be “from somewhere” and to stand for something is no longer a given on Western campuses and beyond. This confidence is gained by participants learning, firsthand, that the whole Israel story is as multidimensional as the passengers on a Tel Aviv bus. It is gained by giving participants the understanding that they can navigate uncertainty, because they’ve now seen a whole society do so and thrive.

 

A recent study conducted by the Midgam Institute, an independent Israeli research and consulting firm, found that engaging in Israel through a Masa Israel experience fosters a level of depth which has concrete results. In surveying 1,480 Masa participants and alumni, it found that 91 percent of participants agree that the most effective way to strengthen the relationship between Israel and Diaspora Jews is by spending a significant period of time living in Israel. Additionally, 82% said they think Israel’s reality is far more positive than its media image abroad, 79% said they are likely to visit Israel again, and 87% said they intend to take action to improve Israel’s image in their home country by being more active on campus, on social media, at demonstrations, and through donations.

 

Those who have participated in Masa Israel programs are more likely to take an interest in news regarding Israeli current events, to listen to Israeli music and podcasts about Israel, and to read Israeli books. The data suggests that young people need to develop a connection to Israel and Israelis in order to make their love for the country last, and that only happens when they get the chance to have their own unique journey there.

 

A major part of the reason we are able to successfully create the kinds of immersive experiences that lead to these lasting relationships with Israel, is because Israelis are an integral part of the story. Sustained exposure to long-term program participants gives Israelis the chance to interact with them in a wide range of contexts, and, of course, the reverse is also true – participants get to know Israelis in an authentic way. Our experiences bring Israelis and participants face to face while working together in the office, shopping in the supermarket on Friday afternoon, relaxing on the beach on weekends, and using public transit on a daily basis.

 

As a result, the same Midgam survey mentioned above found that out of 503 Israelis interviewed, two thirds said Masa experiences reflect the reality of daily life in Israel. Additionally, 94% agreed that “strengthening the connection with Diaspora Jewry is vital for Israel’s strength.”

 

The truth is, there is no single political viewpoint or cultural lens that can motivate young people to care about Israel. There’s no single approach or narrative for making it matter to everyone, and that is the intrinsic beauty in the situation: individuals find their way to connect to Israel by finding out here what matters to them, and where they can matter to Israel.

 

Giving young Jews the extended opportunity to experience and discover Israel for themselves is the best way to ensure the next generation will be invested in Israel’s future, with individual passion for a collective purpose.

 

Liran Avisar is the CEO of Masa Israel Journey, the leader of immersive international experiences in Israel, including gap year programs, study abroad, service-learning and career development opportunities. Masa Israel Journey is a joint project of the Government of Israel and The Jewish Agency.

 

Originally published in eJewish Philanthropy