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 Forward: Why the U.S. Presidential Election Matters for Israel's Environment

The Forward: Why the U.S. Presidential Election Matters for Israel's Environment

The Forward: Why the U.S. Presidential Election Matters for Israel's Environment

October 27, 2016

By Toby Mirman, Masa Israel Teaching Fellow

 

Israelis are interested in the U.S. presidential election. But who ends up in the White House does not only impact the most obvious foreign policy initiatives – military aid, the future of the Iran nuclear deal, a potential two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians. I see the future of U.S. environmental policy as the most critical issue to Israel’s interests, as it affects both Israel’s physical climate and economy.

As the climate changes, countries like Israel – small, densely populated states with limited natural resources, and near the coast – will likely face the brunt of negative consequences. In 2013, the Israeli Environmental Protection Administration reported that climate change would likely put more than five million Israelis at risk of not only flooding due to the rising Mediterranean and greater rainfall causing rivers to overflow, but also of increased transmission of infectious diseases from mosquitoes and other carriers.

 

The next very few years are crucial for the trajectory global warming takes and whether or not we will be able to keep warming to tolerable levels. Indeed, this trajectory depends directly on the environmental policies of the next president.

 

The United States contributes more than 15% of the world’s CO2 emissions, is second only to China in total emissions, and is far and away the world leader in emissions per capita, outpacing China almost three to one. Because the U.S. is such a huge contributor to climate change and because the U.S. is typically the least common denominator for international agreements, it is essentially impossible for mankind to keep climate change within controllable levels without genuine and enthusiastic U.S. government-led efforts to reduce carbon emissions and adopt more sustainable practices.

 

Should the U.S. fail to live up to its commitments and lead the way in reducing carbon emissions, we should expect that other developed economies – those countries that contribute the most to climate change – will follow suit, and continue emitting at unsustainably high rates.

 

President Obama has set U.S. environmental policy on a sustainable path. This fall, he signed the Paris Agreement, joining almost 200 countries in agreeing to limit climate change through reducing carbon emissions, and his administration has advanced the Clean Power Plan, which aims to transform America’s power grid to rely on cleaner and more sustainable methods of producing energy. The direction of U.S. environmental policy in coming years will direct humanity’s battle against climate change.

 

The impact of U.S. environmental policies on Israel during the next presidential administration will affect both Israel’s physical climate and, perhaps less obviously, its economy. Indeed, the two nominees have released vastly different statements on their intentions regarding environmental sustainability and climate change.

 

Why the U.S. Presidential Election Matters for Israel’s Environment

Photo Credit: Getty Images

 

Donald Trump has promised to rescind many of President Obama’s steps toward a sustainable future, including the Clean Power Plan, Climate Action Plan, and Waters of the U.S. Rule, as well as “cancel” the U.S.’ commitments to the Paris agreements within his first 100 days in office. Moreover, Trump has declared his intentions to eliminate entirely the Environmental Protection Agency. These actions would have catastrophic effects on our ability to combat climate change, not to mention put millions of Americans in immediate and grave danger of being poisoned by pollution currently controlled by government regulation.

 

Hillary Clinton’s environmental policies leave something to be desired; she has refrained from proposing the politically contentious carbon cap-and-trade and carbon tax policies thought to be necessary to significantly reduce global warming. However, she has adopted positions that extend President Obama’s existing efforts, and wants to install a billion solar panels by 2020 and generate enough renewable energy to power every home in America within the next 10 years.

 

Climate change will especially injure countries with coastlines as sea levels rise and extreme weather events worsen and become more common, and Israel is no exception. Climate change tends to intensify temperature extremes, while simultaneously raising average temperatures. For a desert country like Israel with already extreme temperatures, this means that summers will be drier, hotter, and longer, while winters will be shorter but with stronger rains. This effect will contribute to increased transmission of diseases as mosquitoes and other carriers encounter less cold weather, and therefore die off at lower rates, leaving more time throughout the year to infect people.

 

The second way U.S. environmental policy will impact Israel is through its economy. Israel is a leading exporter of environmental goods to the United States, including solar panels, desalination, irrigation, and wastewater treatment technologies, exporting close to $500 million a year. If the U.S. lives up to its commitments to the Paris Climate Accords and remains committed to the Clean Power Plan, demand for environmental goods in the U.S. stands to increase substantially as it invests in new technologies to meet emissions goals and adapt to changing conditions. Israel, a world leader in environmental, biological, and high-tech innovation, and the nation with more start-ups per capita than any other, will have a terrific opportunity to increase exports to the U.S.

 

The steps the next U.S. president takes regarding climate change will have a tremendous impact on Israel, both in terms of its climate and its economy. If the U.S. takes a strong stance against climate change, Israel will benefit greatly from increased American investment in its environmental sector. If, however, the U.S. chooses to spit in the face of agreed upon science and hamstring decades of environmental progress, Israel will face environmental challenges far more significant than those it has already worked so hard to overcome.

 

Toby Mirman is currently serving as a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow, through which he teaches English to middle schoolers in Rishon LeZion, Israel. A native of West Hartford, Conn., he graduated in May 2016 from Johns Hopkins University with a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Global Environmental Change and Sustainability.

 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward [and/or Masa Israel Journey].

 

Originally published in The Forward

Jewish Business News: English Speaking Jewish Students To Receive Teaching Fellowships In Israel

Jewish Business News: English Speaking Jewish Students To Receive Teaching Fellowships In Israel

Jewish Business News: English Speaking Jewish Students To Receive Teaching Fellowships In Israel

October 10, 2016

College graduates ages 21 to 30 who are interested in teaching English to Israeli children, while embarking on a journey that will change their lives, are invited to apply to participate in the 2017-2018 class of Masa Israel Teaching Fellows.

The Masa Israel Teaching Fellows program is a partnership between Masa Israel Journey, Israel’s Ministry of Education, and The Jewish Agency for Israel.

 

The Masa Israel Teaching Fellows program is a partnership between Masa Israel Journey, Israel’s Ministry of Education, and The Jewish Agency for Israel.

 

The fellowship provides young Jews from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand with a 10-month experience living in Israel and volunteering through teaching English in schools.

 

The program aims to close the educational achievement gap in Israel’s education system through small group instruction and tutoring at schools identified as in need of additional assistance by the Israeli Ministry of Education. The Fellowship runs from late August to June.

 

Tamar Zilbershatz, Director of Gap and Service Programs at Masa Israel Journey said “We are now in our sixth year, and we know we are having an impact because students tell our fellows that their older siblings remember the fellows before them. We have become part of the national landscape.

 

“Though our students get the chance to immerse themselves in Israeli life, they are also charged with the daunting task of helping Israel’s Education Ministry meet its goal of vastly improving English language among students countrywide. Masa Israel Teaching Fellows are part of something much bigger than themselves, an agenda of national priority for Israel’s million plus students.”

 

The 2017-2018 fellowship class will be assigned to elementary and middle schools in Ashdod, Be’er Sheva, Beit She’an, Migdal Ha’emek, Nazareth, Netanya, Petach Tikvah, Rahat, Ramla, Rehovot, and Rishon Lezion as well as in a youth village providing a boarding school setting for immigrant and youth at risk. Applicants are asked to identify their top-choice location.

 

In addition Masa Israel Teaching Fellows also participate in a two-credit academic course, “Methods in Language Teaching: Theory & Practice,” taught by the academic staff of Tel Aviv University’s TESOL Master’s program.

 

Throughout the program, the fellows will study under top international language instructors in Israel, focusing on understanding how individuals acquire a new language. The strategies learned through this program help fellows better connect with their students and address challenging classroom situations.

 

Said Masa Israel Teaching Fellows alumnus Matt Callman, who taught in Netanya 2014-15 and now serves as Israel Engagement Coordinator at the Hillel Jewish University Center of Pittsburgh, “Masa Israel Teaching Fellows was an opportunity to grow as an individual, connect with my Jewish identity, and enhance my leadership skills. MITF and Masa Israel helped me better understand my place in the Jewish world, the role Judaism plays in my life, and my passion for teaching.”

 

 

Originally published in Jewish Business News

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

The Roanoke Times: Lid: Finding My Spark – From Roanoke to Israel

The Roanoke Times: Lid: Finding My Spark – From Roanoke to Israel

The Roanoke Times: Lid: Finding My Spark – From Roanoke to Israel

October 10, 2016

Shaina Lidd taught English in Rahat, Israel, as a 2015-16

Masa Israel Teaching Fellow.

By Shaina Lidd

 

When the clock struck midnight on January 1, 2015, I wasn’t full of joy, but panic. It was officially my graduation year, and I felt as lost as ever. In just five short months, I would be graduating with degrees in International Relations and Religious Studies from Roanoke College, but I had no “next step.” My friends seemed to have everything planned out – moving to new cities, finding jobs, getting engaged. I was confused as ever, as far from “figured out” as you could get.

 

I knew what I wanted to do long term – I want to go into academia, but I did not know what exactly I wanted to study, or where I wanted to study. The only thing I knew I wanted to do was to research peace and conflict. I spent most of my time senior year planning and executing the first ever Israel-Palestine Peace Month at Roanoke, which I coordinated with two friends – two of us Jewish and one Palestinian. I was learning more and more each day about the Israeli-Arab conflict, and knew that I wanted to learn more. It was much more complicated than I had ever thought, and I knew that I would never get the full story unless I went and experienced it myself.

 

One thing led to another, and I found myself on a plane to Israel to participate in a Masa Israel Journey program. Masa gave me the chance to choose from hundreds of programs through which I could intern at cutting-edge companies, volunteer, study or teach English. Through Masa Israel Teaching Fellows (MITF), I was first trained in teaching English, and then I was tasked with my own classroom, teaching English in an Israeli school.

 

However, my program was different than for others who had done it before. For the first time, through a partnership Masa developed with the Ministry of Education due to the needs the ministry was observing in Arab communities, MITF would have a cohort of Americans teaching English in Rahat, a Bedouin-Arab city near Be’er Sheva in the desert while we also spent time learning together at the Bina Secular Yeshiva, an educational institution in Be’er Sheva.

 

I was drawn to the program in great part because of my experiences as a Jewish student at Roanoke College, a school where only 27 people self-identified as Jewish my senior year. Through a friendship with a Palestinian-American student whose family manages a coexistence project in Bethlehem, and my time organizing Israeli-Palestinian Peace Month, as well as my studies in class, I knew I wanted to explore co-existence in the flesh.

 

Seeing something is believing in it, but experiencing something is understanding it. I entered Al Huda School in Rahat with little to no understanding of the Bedouin culture or experience within Israeli society, but left with a love and appreciation for the culture and the people. I learned about the people, about the education system within Bedouin cities and Israeli society in general, and about myself. I began to understand the big issues at hand, but also the smaller, less obvious challenges and nuances. The more I seemed to learn, the more questions I had. And as I questioned the world and society around me, I began to understand myself more as well.

 

Going on my “masa” (which literally means “journey” in Hebrew) taught me that the world is much more complicated and interesting than it seems on paper. There is only so much we can learn from books. Moving to Israel opened my eyes to the world around me, and offered me a chance to explore not only the topics that I found myself drawn to during college, but also to the topics I hope to explore in the future.

 

My masa changed the direction of my future in many ways, and has allowed me to explore new possibilities. I am making Aliyah (immigrating to Israel) this December and hope to continue to work toward Jewish-Arab peace; I will be studying for my master’s degree in government at the Interdisciplinary Center in Hertzliya. Furthermore, I am excited to be a part of the people of Israel, and to further grow personally. Being in Israel gives me a spark I don’t feel anywhere else, a spark that pushes me to try new things, take risks, study harder and live more. I am so thankful for MITF for introducing me to a whole new world, and I’m so excited to see where my masa continues.

 

Shaina Lidd of Stafford County, is a 2015 graduate of Roanoke College. She recently returned from a year participating on Masa Israel Teaching Fellows, a program teaching English in Israel, and will soon be making Aliyah (immigrating to Israel).

 

Originally published in The Roanoke Times

eJewish Philanthropy: Applications Now Open for English Teaching Fellowships in Israel

eJewish Philanthropy: Applications Now Open for English Teaching Fellowships in Israel

eJewish Philanthropy: Applications Now Open for English Teaching Fellowships in Israel

October 7, 2016

College graduates ages 21 to 30 who are interested in teaching English to Israeli children are invited to apply to participate in the 2017-2018 class of Masa Israel Teaching Fellows.

The Masa Israel Teaching Fellows program is a partnership between Masa Israel Journey, Israel’s Ministry of Education, and The Jewish Agency for Israel. The prestigious fellowship provides young Jews from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand with a 10-month experience living in Israel and volunteering through teaching English in schools. The program aims to close the educational achievement gap in Israel’s education system through small group instruction and tutoring at schools identified as in need of additional assistance by the Israeli Ministry of Education. The Fellowship runs from late August to June.

 

The 2017-2018 fellowship class will be assigned to elementary and middle schools in Ashdod, Be’er Sheva, Beit She’an, Migdal Ha’emek, Nazareth, Netanya, Petach Tikvah, Rahat, Ramla, Rehovot, and Rishon Lezion as well as in a youth village providing a boarding school setting for immigrant and youth at risk. Applicants are asked to identify their top-choice location.

 

In addition to working directly with Israeli school children, Masa Israel Teaching Fellows also participate in a two-credit academic course, “Methods in Language Teaching: Theory & Practice,” taught by the academic staff of Tel Aviv University’s TESOL Master’s program. Throughout the program, the fellows will study under top international language instructors in Israel, focusing on understanding how individuals acquire a new language. The strategies learned through this program help fellows better connect with their students and address challenging classroom situations.

 

Eligible applicants must identify as Jewish and have at least an undergraduate degree by September 1, 2017. Applicants cannot be Israeli citizens or have spent four consecutive months or longer in Israel within the last two years.

 

To begin the application process, interested applicants should visit israelteachingfellows.org, and click “Learn More.”

 

 

Originally published in eJewish Philanthrophy

New Collaboration Seeks to Address Academic Achievement Gaps in Israel

New Collaboration Seeks to Address Academic Achievement Gaps in Israel

September 22, 2016

New partnership allows Masa Israel Teaching Fellows to receive additional training at Tel Aviv University before entering Israeli classrooms

 

JERUSALEM – For the first time in the program’s prestigious history, a new cohort of Jewish college graduates from English-speaking countries will soon begin coursework at Tel Aviv University to learn best practices in classroom management, discipline and instruction to supplement their months-long fellowship teaching English as a second language to underserved students in every sector of Israel’s diverse society.

 

The fellows, college graduates aged 21-30 from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, are participating in the Masa Israel Teaching Fellows program. MITF is a partnership between Masa Israel Journey, Israel’s Ministry of Education, and The Jewish Agency for Israel.

 

The MITF-Tel Aviv University partnership is a first of its kind agreement that will provide this year’s class of 135 Masa Israel Teaching Fellows with additional training over the course of their fellowship. The fellows will participate in a two-credit academic course, “Methods in Language Teaching: Theory & Practice,” taught by the academic staff of Tel Aviv University’s TESOL Master’s program. Throughout the program, the fellows will study under top international language instructors in Israel, focusing on understanding how individuals acquire a new language. The strategies learned through this program will help the fellows better connect with their students and address challenging classroom situations.

 

“Partnering with Tel Aviv University as part of Masa Israel Teaching Fellows’ pedagogical training program is yet another step toward achieving excellence that is the calling card of the teaching fellows program, and of Masa Israel’s programs as a whole,” said Tamar Zilbershatz, the director of Gap and Service Programs for Masa Israel Journey. “We aim to contribute to Israeli society while benefiting the fellows professionally, giving them the opportunity to be part of Israel’s prestigious academic ecosystem. It’s a win-win all around.”

 

Added Prof. Elana Shohamy, who chairs Tel Aviv University’s TESOL Master’s program, “We are very pleased to welcome Masa Israel Teaching Fellows to the Tel Aviv University family, and we look forward to providing them with a taste of TAU's academic excellence. This partnership provides us with a unique opportunity to impact the next generation of young professionals, and to do so in Israel.”

 

The goal of the fellowship program is to reduce the educational achievement gap of underserved Israelis. The prestigious fellowship provides young Jews who are native English speakers with a 10-month experience living, working and volunteering in Israel. Masa Israel Teaching Fellows are assigned to various locations across Israel, including Nazareth and Rahat. Nazareth is the largest Arab city in Israel, and Rahat is the first and largest Bedouin city in Israel. Masa started the programs in both communities at the urging of Israel’s Ministry of Education, which has labeled schools in these areas as underperforming. Masa is expanding its teaching fellows’ presence in both of these communities this year.

 

Accreditation for this course will be given to those who successfully complete all course requirements. Fellows who later join Tel Aviv University’s TESOL Master’s program will be exempt from this course requirement.

 

###

 

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. Through subsidized, individually tailored programs, developed and implemented in collaboration with The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Government of Israel, Masa participants immerse themselves 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 israelteachingfellows.org

 

Contact:

Adam Muhlendorf, West End Strategy Team

adam@westendstrategy.com Cell: (202) 641-6216

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

Jewish Journal: College Scholarships and Aid Money are Out there, if You Know Where to Look

Jewish Journal: College Scholarships and Aid Money are Out there, if You Know Where to Look

Jewish Journal: College Scholarships and Aid Money are Out there, if You Know Where to Look

September 8, 2016

By Lakshna Mehta

 

College is expensive, whether you go to school five minutes from home or 500 miles away.

"Masa Israel (masaisrael.org/grants) provides grants or need-based scholarships for study abroad programs to Israel. Different amounts are available for participants from different countries. Study abroad participants from North America can receive up to $4,500, depending on the length and cost of their program, and need-based scholarships go up to $3,000. Gap year participants between the ages of 18 and 21 can receive $500."

 

Read the full story in the Jewish Journal

The Jerusalem Post: IDF Hero Yanush Ben_Gal remembered by Limmud FSU

The Jerusalem Post: IDF Hero Yanush Ben_Gal remembered by Limmud FSU

September 9, 2016

By Sarah Levi

 

Weekend event boosts Jewish identity in Tatarstan. 

 

"The event benefited from the help and past efforts from Taglit Birthright, the Jewish Agency, [Masa] and Chabad to reconnect Russian Jews to their roots that were severed during communism."


Read the full story in The Jerusalem Post