Thousands of people from around the world tuned in to an international Hanukkah candle lighting ceremony with global leaders and a special performance by pop duo Static and Ben-El
JERUSALEM — Masa Israel Journey fellows, alumni and community members from around the world came together on December 14, 2020, for Masa’s Global Hanukkah Event. The main ceremony, broadcast on Facebook Live and shared by more than 100 Facebook pages, was the largest virtual global gathering to celebrate Hanukkah. Thousands of Jews worldwide tuned in to light the 5th candle of Hannukah together and enjoyed a special performance by pop duo Static and Ben El.
Masa, founded by The Jewish Agency and the government of Israel, is the leader in immersive, long-term for young adults in Israel. The event celebrated the growing impact of Masa’s 2020-21 programming year with 7,500 Masa Fellows from around the world currently in Israel. Thousands of more Fellows are expected to arrive in Israel later this programming year. Amid the pandemic, Fellows are gaining personal and professional growth opportunities while building bridges and meaningful connections within the global Jewish community.
“We are very happy and excited to take part in the event organized by Masa, which connects the Jewish community from all around the world. It is very special for us to perform on one stage in front of thousands of people in Israel and all over the world. We’d like to welcome the thousands of Fellows who came to Israel and to all those who saw us around the world. Yalla, we are waiting for you in Israel!” said Israeli pop duo Static and Ben El.
Among the thousands of masa fellows currently in Israel are Australians Nechama Klajn and Avishai Conyer, who have been on the Israel By Choice (IBC) program and the Kol Ami program respectively in 2020.
About her program in Israel this Year, Nechama explains “I’ve been in two lockdowns in Israel but in between those have still been able to travel around Israel, made friends from all over the world and had unforgettable experiences. My year was different from what I expected but it was an incredible experience and would recommend anyone thinking about taking a gap year to go to Israel!”
Avishai recounts that “This year, I had to deal with many challenges, but it has also been incredibly fulfilling and meaningful. I’ve grown so much as a person, learnt so much about Judaism, and about this amazing country and gotten to develop connections with so many incredible people while the rest of the world was basically isolated. This year has been truly amazing.”
At the Global Hanukkah event, Speeches were delivered by Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel; Isaac Herzog, the Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel; and Ofer Gutman, Acting CEO of Masa.
The Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu said: “I am happy to join all of you at this online Masa Hanukkah event. I try to join Masa every Hanukkah because Masa really is a terrific program. Every year, Masa brings young Jews from across the globe to Israel. In doing so, Masa give thousands the chance to connect with the reality of Israeli society, to strengthen their Jewish identity, and to deepen their relationship with Israel and the Jewish people…Israel is where the Jewish future is being forged. And if you want to be a part of that future, if you want to have an impact upon that future, Israel is the place to be. Welcome home.”
The Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency Isaac Herzog said: “This has been a challenging year for all of us, and while I hope that during this Festival of Lights we’ll begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I want to salute and applaud each and every one of the Masa fellows, for choosing to come to Israel during this difficult period, to connect and contribute to Israeli society. This is a true expression of the value of Kol Yisrael Areivim Zeh Lazeh, all of Israel is responsible for one another, and I deeply appreciate it.”
The Global Hanukkah Event began with smaller online gatherings at 50 community-building workshops around Israel and a virtual networking happy hour for Masa Fellows and alumni. Each workshop was attended by Fellows from different Masa programs and countries, providing participants ways to connect with the global Jewish community at a local level.
After coming together locally, our Fellows joined the broader Jewish community for the live broadcast celebration in an inspiring and large display of global Jewish unity. Other attendees included alumni, Fellows’ families and Masa’s partner organizations.
“Masa’s Global Hanukkah Event celebrates our global Jewish community’s resilience in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a way, like the Maccabees, we have come together to make what seemed impossible possible,” shared Masa Israel Acting CEO Ofer Gutman. He added, “I’m proud to lead Masa, an organization that is building the bridge between Jewish communities worldwide and Israel. We are excited to continue the 2020-21 Masa programming year and offer even more opportunities that brighten the Jewish future.”
About Masa Israel Journey: Masa Israel Journey is the largest immersive, long-term educational experience for young adults ages 18-30. 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 pipeline for the Jewish Diaspora 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 160,000 young people from more than 60 countries.