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Masa celebrates 18 years!

Thousands of Jews from Around the World Gather at Largest Event in Israel for Young Jewish Professionals

Masa Israel Journey launched its 18th programming year in an event featuring pop artists HaTikva 6, Minister of Diaspora Nachman Shai and President Isaac Herzog

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL—Thousands of Masa Israel Journey Fellows, alumni, partners and community members came together on October 20, 2021, at Hayarkon Park in Israel to celebrate the start of Masa Israel Journey’s 2021-22 programming year and Masa’s 18th year anniversary of transformative work.

The event marks Israel’s largest-ever single gathering of global Jewry volunteering and working in Israel since Covid-19. The event was also livestreamed, bringing the global community together for this momentous occasion. More than 3,000 attendees enjoyed a special performance by Israeli sensation HaTikva 6 and an address by Masa’s CEO Ofer Gutman. A special greeting was played by Israeli President Isaac Herzog, with speeches by Minister of Diaspora Nachman Shai and Acting Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency Yaakov Hagoel.

Attendees also participated in community-building workshops, consisting of games, and an art wall where Fellows were encouraged to leave their creative mark representing their journey ahead.  The event also included activity and food booths with countries from around the world, representing the global cultures that make up the Masa community.   

Aussies currently on their Masa programs attended the event. These included gap year participants as well as young adults interning, studying or volunteering on a variety of Masa programs.  The ZFA, the local representative for Masa Israel Journey is proud to be celebrating Masa’s Chai birthday and it’s close, long standing 18 year relationship with the organisation. Through the wide range of programs Masa offers and the generous funding it provides, the ZFA Israel Program department has been able to send thousands of participants to Israel, giving young Aussies the opportunity to experience Israel whilst being immersed in the life, the culture, the language and the people. 

Despite the coronavirus crisis, Masa’s numbers have remained strong, and even increased significantly. Masa’s career programs have seen a 153% increase in demand this year, and demand for its volunteer programs has increased 50% in the past two years. There are currently about 7,500 Fellows in Israel and thousands more are expected to arrive over the course of the year.

Among the 2021-22 Masa Fellows is Ben Katz, who is interning at Israeli bio-tech company Sonovia. “In these crazy times we are living in, I am so grateful that I have been able to come to Israel for a life-changing experience with the help of Masa.” Adding, “With my background in materials engineering and experience in textiles manufacturing, I got an internship at Sonovia working with one of the most impactful Israeli companies in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s been a great opportunity for me to build on my engineering skillset and learn the startup culture, while working on products that help save lives.”

Masa CEO Ofer Gutman said: “I am especially grateful to be here with you because today we mark our first large event since the pandemic began. It’s inspiring to see just how far we have come. As I look at you today, on Masa’s 18th anniversary, I am filled with a sense of pride for this growing community that has traveled far to be here to contribute to the Israeli society. You are making lasting connections and contributing to strengthening our global Jewish community!” Adding, “You are the next generation of leaders, and we feel privileged to support you as you learn more about Israel and yourselves.”

President Isaac Herzog said: “By choosing to immerse yourself in Israeli society and by sharing your unique stories and skills with us, you’re contributing to Israel’s growth, and you are becoming partners in the critical mission of strengthening the ties between Israel and the Jewish people—especially the next generation.” Adding, “I am eager to see how our journey together—here—in your and my Israel will make your lives so much richer. As President of the State of Israel, I look forward to continuing to work with Masa and I thank you all for making this incredible project a reality for so many years. May you enjoy many more years of success and meaningful impact.”

About Masa Israel Journey: Masa Israel Journey is the largest immersive, long-term educational experience for young adults ages 16-35. On its programs that range from two months to a year, Masa offers an authentic, unmediated and challenging journey into Israeli society, culture, politics and history – and acts as the largest provider for global Jewry to access the finest Israeli businesses, social enterprises and academic institutions. Since its 2004 founding by The Jewish Agency and government of Israel, Masa has served over 170,000 young people from more than 60 countries.

Masa offers school leaver gap year programs, academic study programs at Israel’s top universities and institutions, grass root volunteer programs, teaching programs, employment opportunities in Israel’s high tech ecosystem, internship programs, age old traditional Kibbutz Ulpan programs and special interest programs. The ZFA Israel Program Department is currently experiencing an increased interest in 2022 Masa Israel programs which range from school leaver gap year programs , internship programs, academic study, Jewish learning, volunteer, teaching and high tech employment programs. In anticipation of the opening of Australia’s international border there is a renewed interest in young adults looking to safely travel abroad, and with a Masa program there is the added benefit of being able to further one’s academic, career or personal interests. For more information on Masa Israel Programs feel free to contact the ZFA Israel Program Office – israelprograms@zfa.com.au, 03 9272 5584