Above: Some of the 5,000 participants at the Jewish Agency’s MASA programs mega event Thursday (May 22) outside Jerusalem attended by Prime Minister Olmert marking the end of their school year in Israel.
May 25, 2008 / 20 Iyar 5768
More than 5,000 participants of the Jewish Agency's MASA – Israel Journey programs celebrated the end of their year in Israel at a mega event attended by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at Latrun, outside Jerusalem Thursday evening (May 22). This year, over 8,000 Jewish youth between 18 and 30, from 50 countries, of them more than 5,500 from North America, spent a semester or year studying, volunteering or interning in Israel through MASA.
"I have been so inspired during my year here," said Master of Ceremony Deborah Laks from Costa Rica to the cheering audience. "And in turn I want to return to my community and inspire others to come to Israel with MASA."
Chairman of the Jewish Agency, Mr. Zeev Bielski, addresses the crowd
MASA was established as a joint project by the Jewish Agency and the Prime Minister’s office under Ariel Sharon in 2004 to enable thousands of Jewish young adults to spend a semester to a year in Israel on over 150 approved programs. Since its inception, MASA has made it possible for 27,000 people to live, work, study and volunteer in Israel; the goal of MASA is to have the number of Jewish youth studying from abroad or working in Israel reach 20,000 per year.
“Through MASA, you came to Israel on a long-term program and got to know, to understand and to feel Israel,” Olmert said.
Below: Malka Simmons (right), 22, from Toronto with classmates Shari Feld (left) of Tampa, Florida, and Louisa Lallouz of New York: "I feel so lucky that I came to Israel this year. Without MASA, I would never have been able to afford to come on a long-term program."
Photo credit: Azri Samin