As the majority of the Jewish population lives outside of Israel, the global Jewish voice is represented by a diverse culmination of backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences. This variety is what makes the international Jewish community so significant in shaping Israel’s future.

The bridge between Israel and the international Jewish community has always been a critical part of Israel’s creation and survival. To maintain a healthy and vibrant Jewish homeland, that bridge must be sustained. To ensure a Jewish future, that bridge must be strengthened. To accomplish these goals, it is crucial that the voice of the international Jewish community is heard.

As the majority of the Jewish population lives outside of Israel, the global Jewish voice is represented by a diverse culmination of backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences. This variety is what makes the international Jewish community so significant in shaping Israel’s future.

When Jews from around the world connect with Israel, it becomes a part of their story. But, when Israelis connect with World Jewry, a new generation of understanding is born.

Exposing Israelis to an international Jewish perspective enhances their own Jewish identity and strengthens their relationship with World Jewry.

Masa Israel Journey is leading the effort in bringing this global perspective to Israel. Our internationally renowned programs bring thousands of young Jews from around the world to Israel each year to participate in long-term academic, volunteer, and career programs. Since 2003, more than 160,000 young Jews from 62 countries have immersed themselves in Israel from two months to one year at a time. In doing so, they’ve created impactful and life-changing relationships with the country and its people by playing an integral part in Israeli society.

Young Jewish adults from all corners of the earth come on Masa programs and are fully integrated into Israeli schools, NGOs, hi-tech companies, and universities as English teachers, interns, and students. Masa Fellows give a voice to the international Jewish community by sharing their personal stories when interacting with the Israelis around them.

Most Israelis are not exposed to Jewish life outside of Israel and are becoming detached from their brothers and sisters abroad because of the distance. Many Israelis subsequently do not understand Jewish life abroad, and therefore do not give it much consideration. They do not know what it is like to identify as Jew as a minority, or how holidays are celebrated differently. Yet when they hear from Masa Fellows about the Jewish communities abroad, it builds critical understanding between our communities at a time when we need it more than ever. For Israelis, it opens the door to understanding how World Jewry is a part of their story as both Israelis and Jews.

Through my work with Masa, I’ve seen how international relationships strengthen our global community. We are more connected when Israelis learn about the global Jewish experience from the authentic voice of Masa Fellows with whom they have connected on a deep level.

To achieve these meaningful and perspective-changing relationships, Masa works on a grassroots level to create peer-to-peer interactions through educational and social programming as well as in professional settings. For instance, Masa Israel Teaching Fellows share about life outside of Israel with the students in their classrooms. Internship Fellows bring different ideas to their coworkers as they tackle new challenges. Academic Fellows raise challenging questions in the universities where they study.

These interactions spark connections between the Fellows and the people of Israel. Relationships are fortified during intimate Shabbat and holiday dinners and social outings. Some Fellows even date Israelis. In each of these meaningful interactions, Fellows offer a fresh, young, and authentic perspective that affects the tens of thousands of Israelis they influence during their stay.

The global Jewish voice is finally being heard by Israelis, inspiring them to reconsider what they always knew as fact. When these young Jewish adults from around the world share their stories, Israelis gain first-hand exposure to the global Jewish experience.  Through these personal, cross-cultural interactions, we create a common language between us all. And it’s this common language that will empower the next generation of Israelis to be more connected to Jews around the world and vice versa.

Progress is being made, but further grassroots efforts to increase interest and investment in these opportunities must expand. Doing so will improve the way the global Jewish voice is represented in and engaged with Israel. If we bring our voices and experiences together through opportunities like Masa, we can build a stronger and more connected Jewish future.

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