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MASA: Background
Our Vision:

 

“I have a dream: that every Jew will visit Jerusalem at least once.
I believe we must set a goal that every young Jew will live here for at least one year during the course of his/her lifetime.”
(Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, UJC General Assembly, November 2003)
MASA is Hebrew for "journey," and MASA's vision is that every year, an ever-growing number of young Jews from around the world will start their life’s journey with a semester or year in Israel,exploring the land, experiencing its culture, and growing and learning together as they enter the global community.
To make this vision a reality, MASA is working to create the conditions that will enable thousands of young adults from the around the world to participate in long-term programs in Israel each year.
This reality will be achieved by:
•  developing clearly defined, well-organized, quality programs;
•  setting educational and organizational standards for all participating Program Organizers,
and overseeing their compliance with these standards;
•  providing financial, marketing, and educational assistance to program organizers.
MASA's founders, whose thinking is based on research findings in the field, recognize that participation in a long-term program in Israel is the most effective tool for shaping the next generation of Jewish leadership in Jewish communities; for cultivating their Jewish awareness and sense of shared destiny with the State of Israel; and for contributing to the creation of a common, world-wide Jewish agenda.
 
Long-term programs provide opportunities for connecting to Israel and its people while strengthening commitment to Jewish continuity around the world. MASA programs emphasize study, meaningful encounters with Israelis, and volunteering in and contributing to Israeli society, these alongside adventures, challenges, and gaining familiarization with young people from other countries as well as with native Israelis.
MASA hopes that when young Jews will think about their life's journey, they will think about our
"Journey" to Israel”: MASA.
 


Our Historic Mission:
 

“Every young Jewish adult should spend at least a year of his life in Israel.”
(Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, addressing the opening session of the UJC General Assembly, Jerusalem, November 2003)
 
MASA:
The Project for Long-Term Programs in Israel

 

In June 2003, members of the Coordinating Committee of the Government of Israel and of the Jewish Agency for Israel met to explore new ways by which to reach Jewish youth around the world, reinforce their Jewish identity, and strengthen their ties to Israel and their community It was here that the idea for MASA — The Project for Long-Term Programs in Israel — was born.
MASA's ultimate goal is to significantly increase the number of participants in one-semester/one-year educational programs in Israel, the center of world Jewish culture and creativity.

MASA and The Israel Connection:

It was overwhelmingly approved for implementationIn its first few months, an interim team was set up to map existing programs, develop marketing strategies, and set up a work plan, including a process for providing financial assistance. Yisrael Maimon, Cabinet Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Bureau, and Alan Hoffmann, Director-General of the Department for Zionist Education of the Jewish Agency, were appointed co-chairs of the Project Steering Committee. In November 2003, the Coordinating Committee approved the project and instructed the Jewish Agency to present a detailed program. In January 2004, the Project was presented in detail to both the Prime Minister and Sallai Meridor at a special meeting in the Prime Minister’s office.

MASA — The Journey Continues:
The mission statement of the Zionist Education Department of the Jewish Agency calls for "intensifying the unique and multi-dimensional significance of Israel in connecting the next generation of Jews to its heritage, people, and homeland." One of the key strategies in facilitating the accomplishment of this goal is to support, promote, and enhance long-term Israel programs, and to work with Jewish communities worldwide in encouraging young Jews to spend time in Israel during their formative years.  


 

In The American Jewish Year Book, 2003, Professor Sergio della Pergola estimated that this dwindling age group of 2.3 million Jews under the age of 24 presently living in the Diaspora (out of a total of 4.5 million including those in Israel), is beset by its own problems.
From within: declining birthrates (1.5 children per family); rising rate of intermarriage (from 53% to 56% since 1990); and decreased rate of communal involvement (15% drop in contributions to local Federation campaigns).
From without: rising anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment on college campuses.
 The younger generation is at risk, and now is the time to engage the next generation in order to secure the future of the Jewish people.
 Israel programs, however, have long enabled young Jews to connect with their culture, with their heritage, and with other Jews from around the world. Programs such as TAGLIT: Birthright Israel, are succeeding in overcoming the negative perceptions of Israel prevalent amongst young Jews by bringing them in growing numbers to Israel. Nothing, however, compares to the significance and impact of long-term Israel programs.
Long-term programs provide their participants with opportunities for connecting to Israel and its people while, in parallel, strengthening their commitment to Jewish continuity and to local Jewish communities. Such programs emphasize study, meaningful encounters, volunteering, and contribution to Israeli society, together with adventures, challenges, and familiarization with young people from other countries, as well as with native Israeli youth. 
Follow-up studies indicate that the impact of this experience is life-long. For example, a survey taken of alumni of The Young Judaea Year Course shows that they maintain a higher rate of Jewish involvement in their home countries after their experience in Israel as compared to peers who did not participate. Ninety-one percent marry Jews; 79% maintain synagogue membership; 71% return to Israel two or more times in ensuing years; 72% volunteer in a Jewish setting; 57% contribute to Federation campaigns; and 36% send their children to Jewish day schools. (International Survey of Israel Program Graduates – Preliminary Findings. Survey by Professor Steve Cohen)
 Studies have shown that one of the most effective ways of doing this is by building a strong connection to Israel through long-term programs in Israel.
Support of long-term programs is an investment in the future of Jewish youth and Jewish peoplehood.

 


MASA — The Journey Begins:
 

To that end, MASA has outlined the following agenda:
•   to bring increasing numbers of participants per year, from post high-school age through age 30;
•   to generate interest among Program Organizers to create quality, innovative long-term programs which will reach the widest range of participants in this age group;
•   to set educational standards for all participating programs, and to oversee their compliance with these standards;
•   to provide financial, marketing, and educational assistance to program organizers, as well as incentives for growth and development;
•   to provide financial assistance to participants in the form of grants and scholarships;
•   to provide activities for participants throughout the year to increase their exposure to Israeli culture, as well as their connection to Israelis and to participants in other MASA programs

 

MASA — The Future:
 

Since its inception, “MASA — The Israel Journey” has succeeded in changing the face of long-term programs in Israel, generating creativity among program organizers, excitement among community leaders, and interest among participants. 
 

To continue to be effective, MASA is taking bold new steps in making long-term programs attractive and accessible to today's young Jews. 
 

These steps include:
•   communicating the advantages of spending a semester or year in Israel to a wide range of audiences;
•   identifying major organizations to work together to promote long-term programs to their constituents;
•   cooperating with local Federations and community institutions to promote long-term programs in their communities;
•   contracting with Program Organizers to design a new and exciting range of innovative programs;
•   training Jewish communal professionals and lay leaders to work together—across denominational, institutional, and geographic lines—to change the culture and develop a global norm.
 
MASA calls upon Jewish leaders, student organizations, youth movements, and national and community organizations to be a part of this great initiative, and to devote time, energies, and resources to the creation, support, and promotion of long-term programs in Israel. Only through such partnership can this truly transformative experience in (and of) Israel become the global norm for today’s Jewish youth.

 MASA's Goal  MASA enables young Jews (aged 18 to 30) from around the world to build a lasting relationship with Israel, strengthen their Jewish identity, and gain meaningful and beneficial experiences by participating in a long-term program in Israel.
 MASA Activities
for Participants
(MAP)
 MASA provides young Jewish adults with connections and access to programs, grants, and scholarships towards program fees, as well as support, activities, workshops, and
resources while here in Israel.
Click here to see MASA Activities for Participants (MAP).
 MASA-Sponsored Programs  MASA helps programs raise their level of accountability and service in order to ensure that they provide participants with quality experiences, skills, and knowledge in order to benefit their future, as well as to strengthen the next generation of the Jewish people.
History of MASA  MASA is the culmination of a dream expressed by PM Ariel Sharon that all Jews should spend a semester or year in Israel.
Officially established in 2003 by the Government of Israel in conjunction with the Jewish Agency for Israel, MASA is your gateway to over 150 long-term programs in Israel.
 MASA Partners  MASA is a joint project of the Government of Israel and the Jewish Agency, made possible through the generous support of the United Jewish Communities, the Federations of North America, and Keren HaYesod—UIA.





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