Masa is a unique and powerful platform that enables Jewish communities around the world to express their commitment to Israel, while investing in life-changing experiences for their next generation. Jewish communities invest in Masa to cultivate their future leaders – young women and men who have a deep love for and personal relationship with Israel. These young people become change agents in their local communities, helping others understand Israel and navigate the complexities surrounding the discourse about it.
At the same time, Jewish leaders around the world look to Masa to help them support Israel directly. Whether they are looking to assist Israel’s geographical periphery, strengthen its economy, support its thriving NGOs and universities, or develop its global network of advocates, Masa provides a set of tools for Jewish communities – and their next generation of leaders – to make an impact in their specific area of interest.
They invest in Masa participants who work with Ethiopian immigrants and work to build up communities in the Negev and the Galilee. They invest in strategic programs that fill key talent gaps facing Israel – from English teachers to computer engineers – ensuring that the country’s high-tech economy will continue to thrive in the future. Through Masa, they provide a global pool of human capital and pour millions of dollars in investment into Israel’s finest universities and NGOs.
Innovative and meaningful programs
Courtney Anna Roy is one of the 250 Masa Israel Teaching Fellows (MITF) who came to Israel last year. MITF – a joint initiative of Israel’s Ministry of Education and Masa – is a 10-month fellowship for college graduates between the ages of 21 and 30. The fellows work to improve English-learning outcomes for Israeli students, including Arab Israelis, which are key indicators for students’ success in higher education and beyond.
When Courtney joined MITF, she was already an experienced teacher, with an Honor’s BS in Exceptional Education and Psychology and a Master’s of Philosophy in Research in Second Language Acquisition under her belt. She credits the environment at her teaching post in Be’er Sheva with dramatically elevating her skills as a pedagogical advocate and leader. Now back in the U.S., she is working to develop innovative and collaborative ways to address educational inequality, and believes that Masa equipped her with a broader outlook on “Judaism, socio- and geo-political issues in the Middle East, and social entrepreneurship.”
For Eric Wollberg, a Masa-sponsored Israel Government internship is providing a canvas to explore his interests, develop personally, and imagine his future. “Without the Masa IGF program, I think it would have taken me ten years to get to where I will be when I finish this experience,” he says. Eric specializes in green energy at the Israel Innovation Authority, where he meets with leaders from government, business and academia. At the same time, he attends Ulpan and works closely with prominent thinkers and social activists.
Through Masa, thousands of young adults like Eric gain access to a new set of 21st-century professional skills, dynamic leadership opportunities, and a global Jewish network for life. At the same time, they provide a wealth of human capital for Israel’s most important institutions, including businesses, social enterprises and universities.
A range of challenges face today’s Jewish institutions: how do we recruit and retain talented and committed Jewish professionals? How do we cultivate the next generation of Jewish lay leaders? How do we build bridges between Jewish communities at a time of growing gaps? The Masa Leadership Academy is pioneering new solutions to address these challenges. It seeks to reshape how leadership is understood and exercised by Masa participants and partner agencies. The program nurtures a deep and personal relationship with Israel that becomes an integrated part of the identity of its graduates.
The Masa Leadership Academy initiative will cultivate and develop 1,000 Jewish lay and professional leaders from around the world by 2021, under the guidance of top Jewish educator Sarah Mali. In the upcoming year, the Masa Leadership Academy will be launching a six-week professional development Summer Institute with partners.
New study on Jewish millennial leadership
A recent survey conducted by Wendy Rosov at Rosov Consulting found that the immersive, long-term experience in Israel makes a powerful contribution in cultivating leaders. The first-of-its-kind study surveyed nearly 1,000 Masa alumni and conducted in-depth interviews with nearly 40 of them, between four and ten years after their participation in the program.
More than half of respondents who self-describe as “Jewish leaders” attribute their involvement with Israel and the Jewish community to their experience on Masa. The study found that the uniquely immersive and global nature of the program – in which participants live, work and socialize with other Jewish young adults from around the world – provides exposure to diverse viewpoints that teach teamwork and collaboration. A majority of respondents credited the experience as a significant factor in making them more likely to develop key leadership skills, such as identifying problems, creating solutions, and using vision to drive change.
The study builds on past research by Rosov Consulting, which found that Masa alumni are twice as likely to take a leadership role in Jewish life, and three times more likely to report that being Jewish is important to them, while a full 87% of Masa alumni reported intending to become active in working to improve Israel’s image on return to their communities.
“This data provides unique insight into how we can cultivate the next generation of leaders so needed for the Jewish world,” said Masa Israel Journey CEO Liran Avisar. “We are proud to have partnered with the talented Rosov Consulting team to take an unprecedented look at how Jewish millennials develop the skills and qualities to manifest leadership in the workplace and Jewish communal spaces. As the largest pipeline for the Diaspora to access immersive, long-term professional and educational experiences in Israel, Masa is uniquely positioned to bring solutions to the table to address this challenge.”
Meet Masa alumna Lauren Levinson
“Choosing to go on a Masa program after college was the best decision of my life. I quickly got involved in the leadership programs Masa offered by attending the Global Leadership Summit. This conference not only gave me community and critical thinking tools, it also introduced me to two more meaningful programs. The fist was a trip to Poland, an unbelievable way to see and learn about the country during the times of the Holocaust and the current Jewish community today. The second was being involved in the Masa Hillel Fellowship, a direct reaction to receiving my first job at Penn State Hillel. As the Israel Engagement Coordinator, I was working with college students, talking about my experiences and leading Birthright trips. I recently accepted a new role at the Jewish United Fund in Chicago as the Missions Associate, where I plan mission trips that donors in the Chicago community can go on.”
Want to make an impact? Contact Ruth Alfandary at RuthA@masaisrael.org