Thousands of Diaspora Jews on Masa Programs Opt to Sit Out Coronavirus Crisis in Israel

The roughly 4,200 participants of Masa who remain in Israel are required to comply with coronavirus-related restrictions imposed by the government

Judy Maltz
Judy Maltz
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Birthright participants from Uganda at at the Western Wall in Jerusalem August 27, 2018
Birthright participants from Uganda at at the Western Wall in Jerusalem August 27, 2018Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
Judy Maltz
Judy Maltz

Despite severe restrictions imposed by the Israeli government due to the coronavirus outbreak, thousands of young Jewish adults participating in long-term Israel experience programs have decided to remain in the country.

Haaretz Weekly Ep. 70Credit: Haaretz

Masa, the single largest operator of such programs, said that roughly 4,200 participants are still in the country. They represent more than half the total number actively enrolled – about 7,500 – on the eve of the outbreak.

A joint venture of the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office and the Jewish Agency for Israel, Masa runs hundreds of educational, volunteer and internship programs in Israel each year, many of them year long. It said that 68 of its programs – about one-fifth of all such programs – have been closed in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. Most of those closed, a Masa spokeswoman said, were yeshiva programs that target Orthodox participants.

Meanwhile, two weeks ago Birthright announced that it was cancelling all its scheduled trips to Israel through May. It said they would resume in June, but only on condition that the Israeli government lifted the 14-day mandatory quarantine on all individuals entering the country. Last week, Israel announced that all non-Israelis were hitherto banned from entering the country, except under special circumstances. Birthright’s all-expense paid trips typically last 10 days. Masa programs, by contrast, are not free, but heavily subsidized.

Masa’s spokeswoman said that all participants remaining in the country are required to comply with coronavirus-related restrictions imposed by the government. Classes and other activities, she added, have been moved online when possible. The organization has seen to it, she said, that participants in programs that were shuttered were able to return to their home countries, or alternatively, that they had relatives to stay with in Israel.

On average, about 12,000 Diaspora Jews participate in Masa programs every year.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

בנימין נתניהו השקת ספר

Netanyahu’s Israel Is About to Slam the Door on the Diaspora

עדי שטרן

Head of Israel’s Top Art Academy Leads a Quiet Revolution

Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

Skyscrapers in Ramat Gan and Tel Aviv.

Israel May Have Caught the Worst American Disease, New Research Shows

ג'אמיל דקוור

Why the Head of ACLU’s Human Rights Program Has Regrets About Emigrating From Israel

ISRAEL-VOTE

Netanyahu’s Election Win Dealt a Grievous Blow to Judaism