Masa Israel Journey is leading the way in connecting “the next generation” of Jewish young adults to Israel through internship, volunteer and leadership development experiences. In 2010-2011 alone, Masa Israel brought over 10,000 Jews to Israel for a minimum of five months, and we have more than 55,000 alumni around the world. We have been featured in a variety of publications including BusinessWeek, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, The Chicago Tribune, ABC News, Reuters, The Jerusalem Post and more.
With the U.S. economy still sputtering, a growing number of college graduates are turning to Israel programs to bridge their educational and professional careers. In many cases, these young American Jews are drawn to the programs not out of Zionist sensibilities but because they’re looking for workplace experience or seeking a way to do something Jewish.
Every year thousands of young Jewish adults from across the globe experience life in Israel through one of Masa Israel’s 180 long-term programs. These Masa Israel alumni return home with a much stronger commitment to both Israel and their Jewish identity, and many even assume leadership roles in their home communities.
In response to traditional volunteer programs that have Americans parachuting in and out of countries worldwide with no long-term effects, Masa Israel Journey recently launched two new, integrated volunteer programs that team up American and Israeli volunteers to create sustainable projects in Israel’s underserved periphery.
North American college graduates will teach English in a new program targeted at underprivileged communities in Israel. Masa Israel Journey and the Israeli Ministry of Education launched the Israel Teaching Fellows volunteer program late Monday.
Jewlicious reviews the Masa Israel Program Finder on Facebook.
In light of the recent unrest in Egypt, Masa Israel Journey programs have welcomed 21 displaced North American students to Israel to continue their Arabic language studies. Twelve students have enrolled in The Rothberg International School at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, eight in the International School at the University of Haifa, and one in Givat Haviva’s Intensive Arabic Semester.
Representatives from leading American service organizations, including Teach for America, Peace Corps, City Year and others, spent last week in Israel exploring volunteering opportunities offered through Masa Israel Journey. With young adults' growing interest in international volunteer opportunities, Masa Israel, a joint project of the government and the Jewish Agency for Israel, is making Israel a global hub for service programs.
As part of an effort to raise Israel's profile as a study-abroad destination, eight American universities are starting or expanding programs to send students there. The projects, which start in 2011 and 2012, were spurred by $400,000 in grants from Masa Israel Journey, a New York nonprofit financially supported by the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency for Israel.
While impressive to both U.S. and overseas employers, it's not enough to have a resume sprinkled with international travel, business projects or volunteer stints. "In today's day and age, having a global worldview is necessary," said Avi Rubel, North American director of Masa Israel Journey, an organization that matches recent college grads with internships in Israel. "People are looking for cross-cultural awareness more than anything."
The Peace Corps saw an 18 percent increase in applications between September 2008 and September 2009. Lesser-known work-abroad outfits like the Council on International Educational Exchange, which offers overseas teaching programs in half a dozen countries, and Masa Israel Journey, which places recent college grads in internships in Israel, report similar surges in program demand since the recession began.
Indeed, differentiating oneself in today's job market has been a motivating factor for students signing up for these programs. When Sarah Block graduated from Syracuse University in 2008, she knew she wanted professional experience abroad. She'd heard about a program called Masa Israel, an Israeli work-abroad program for recent college graduates, and applied for a spot. A few months later, she was working in the marketing department at Tel Aviv-based Radvision (RVSN), which develops video network infrastructure. When she returned to the U.S. five months later, she landed a job at Godfrey Q & Partners, a San Francisco advertising agency.
According to Masa, a group that organizes programs to Israel and is partially funded by the Israeli government, participation is up 50 percent since the fall of 2008. Today, Masa has more than 1,500 Americans working in Israel. Masa's Aaron Goldberg said interest has been rising since the financial crisis, which gave them the idea for their "Israel: A Better Stimulus Plan" marketing campaign.
After JPMorgan Chase laid off Adi Clerman as a recruiter in August 2008, the 26-year-old Chicagoan couldn't find a job -- any job. "I was looking and looking for work and interviewing and interviewing, and nothing was coming," she said. So Clerman decided to go abroad. She grabbed a five-month internship in Tel Aviv, Israel, at an American marketing firm through MASA Israel's Career Israel program, a partnership with the Israeli government that sends young people to the country for work experiences. It filled a huge gap on 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," she said.
David Kleinstein of Plainview graduated Brandeis University in May 2008 and knew that, as far as getting a job went, he had a problem: Friends who graduated a year before were still out of work.
"I decided I wasn't ready to face the rejection of the working world," said Kleinstein, 23. Instead, he became one of a growing number of young Long Islanders who went to Israel.
As the unemployment rate in the U.S. climbed to a 26-year high of 10.2 percent last month, growing numbers of young and adult American Jews were arriving in Israel to inexpensively "wait out" the economic lull. In an attempt to lure diaspora Jews to make Israel their permanent home, the Israeli government and Jewish organizations offer a multitude of scholarships and travel grants, allowing many to spend up to six months in Israel almost for free.