Marking the 19th year of activities, for the first time, Masa, in cooperation with the Jewish Agency and the Israeli government, will bring 14,000 young people from the Diaspora to Israel on Masa programs, because of the high demand. This is an addition of 2,000 young Jews between the ages of 16 and 35 from five different continents around the world who will come to Israel with the aim of integrating into Israeli society, for programs spanning between a few months to a year, for internships, to teach English, career development programs, academia, and community volunteering.
There was also an increase of about 220% in Fellows of the "Masa Doctors" program, as over 200 Jewish doctors from Eastern Europe and Latin America will arrive this year for a training program and integration into the Israeli health system. The leading continents and countries from which young people will come to Israel are in descending order: North America, Russia, Latin America, Europe, Australia, South Africa, Ukraine, Turkey, Uzbekistan, and other countries.
In the 19 years since Masa was established, over 190 thousand Fellows and alumni from 60 countries around the world participated in immersive, long-term programs in Israel, experiencing the country as a local. "This demonstrates the tremendous power of new ambassadors that have developed over the years. To understand where Israel-Diaspora relations stand, we set out to explore the impact of long-term, immersive programs in Israel," explains Masa's CEO, Ofer Gutman.
The organization recently released an in-depth report based on a study by Impact:NPO, which surveyed 2,433 young Jews from North America between the ages of 20-45, among them Masa alumni. The survey revealed that 80% of long-term Masa alumni agreed strongly with the statement, “Being Jewish is an important part of my life.” Nearly half of long-term Masa alumni regularly donate to Jewish-related charities or causes outside of Israel and a third regularly donate to Israel-related charities.92% of long-term Masa alumni with children will raise their children Jewish, compared to 63% for short-term program participants. Long-term Masa alumni are over twice as likely to feel strongly connected to Jews around the world than individuals who have never been to Israel (62% vs. 26%). Two-thirds of long-term Masa alumni regularly participate in Jewish community programs or events, and one in five Masa alumni work for a Jewish organization or educational institution. Additionally, long-term Masa alumni are far more likely than short-term participants to have returned to Israel since their programs ended. 71% returned to Israel after their program and 41% returned three or more times or prolonged their stay. The study was conducted by the research institute Impact:NPO in New York.
Ofer Gutman, CEO of Masa Israel stated: "We clearly recognize that there is a direct impact of long-term programs in Israel on young Jews in the Diaspora, and in the United States in particular. Israel gains dedicated supporters and loyal ambassadors; Jewish communities gain engaged members and contributors."
At the opening event of the 19th year of Masa's activity, the organization hosted representatives of the Israeli government, The Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency, and about 3,500 Masa Fellows and alumni. The Chairman of the Jewish Agency, Major General Doron Almog, stated, "At this time in history where the challenges of our time tend to blind us to our great accomplishments, the greatest of which is the creation of the State of Israel, I see Masa Fellows as being a big part of our ongoing achievement, where we succeed to bring Israel closer to the Jewish people, to pass on the deep connection they have with their Judaism and the Jewish people, and with this profound connection lead their communities into a thriving Jewish future.”