October 30, 2006 / 8 Cheshvan 5767
Over 2,500 new participants and graduates of the MASA/Israel Journey program descended on the hard hit city of Acre to kick-off the beginning of MASA's third year. MASA, a long-term Israel experience program initiated by the Jewish Agency in conjunction with the government of Israel, has an extraordinary vision: to triple the number of young Jews, ages 18-30, from communities around the world who come to Israel for semester-to-year-long programs.
MASA chose Acre as the site of its celebratory venue to show solidarity with the war-torn North and bring a day of fun activities to the city's residents. Young people from around the world took part in Israeli dancing, singing, painting to beautify the city and other activities organized for the occasion. Anticipation was in the air as program graduates and volunteers interacted with newly arrived MASA participants.
Twenty-year-old Boris Chakaro from Uzbekistan was enjoying the chance to catch up with old friends. Boris just completed his MASA year which entailed five months learning Hebrew and Jewish studies at a college in the Jordan valley and working for six months in the Golan Heights. He recently made aliyah and is due to enlist in the Israeli army in November where he hopes to serve in a fighting unit.
"I always knew that I would make aliyah," says Boris. "MASA was the catalyst. Even my father, who had reservations about me going to Israel, sees how happy I am and he is coming to visit next month."