Le’hitraot to hundreds leaving on MASA long-term Israel programs
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About 340 Australian young adults aged 18-30 will be on long-term programs facilitated by the ZFA and supported by MASA Israel Journey in the 2011-12 season. About two-thirds of the participants are on gap-year programs, who are leaving within the next two weeks.
“The increasing numbers underscore how committed young Australians are to Israel. They have multiple options from which to choose, including the youth movement shnat programs, AUJS Aviv, Israel By Choice and up to 200 other choices, including studying in a yeshiva, professional internships, performing arts, environmental programs, university studies and many more. I’m thrilled that the ZFA’s Israel Programs department has been busier than ever this year.”said Philip Chester, President of the Zionist Federation of Australia. “We are proud to know that these 340 young adults will come back and take their place as active and engaged members of the Jewish community.”
A large number of teenagers, madrichim and family members gathered outside the International Terminal at the Melbourne Airport 30 January for a ceremony to send off youth group shnat participants from Melbourne. In all, 147 participants from across Australia and New Zealand from Betar, Benei Akiva, Habonim Dror, Hashomer Hatzair, Hineni and Netzer plan to get to Israel on 1 February.
“It’s great that so many of them are taking a year off, but what is more exciting is that they all committed to coming back to be leaders in the community for two years after they return,” said Reuben Bolaffi, Chairperson of Australasian Zionist Youth Council (AZYC). “Like so many others before them, they will have a phenomenal time and a life-defining experience, and they will come back ready to step in to lead others in a similar capacity.”
Eden Adler was leaving from Melbourne Airport 30 January for shnat with her youth group, Habonim Dror. While standing and talking with her friends and getting bombarded with hugs from her parents and program leaders, Adler’s smile was permanently fixed on her face. “I’m so excited for a fulfilling year,” Adler said. “I will be experiencing a different culture, and it will be amazing because you know that everybody there still shares many of the same things we do, that you know that everybody is going to Shabbat each Friday and it’s special. Israel feels like it will be home.”