JERUSALEM, ISRAEL: The Masa program participants were addressed by the Israeli Minister of the Economy, Naftali Bennett, and Chairman of Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel, Natan Sharansky. They also participated in a panel discussion with the outstanding Israeli sportsmen and women Ariel "Arik" Ze'evi, Karen Leibowitz, and Andi Ram.
Olympic medalist, judoka Arik Ze'evi said, “After a year in Israel, you will be the best ambassadors for our country.”
Naftali Bennett, Minister of the Economy said: “I salute those of you who are planning on making Aliyah. We need every one of you. For those of you that are planning to return home, I am certain that after a year here, the State of Israel will remain close to your hearts and that you will continue to visit us.”
Natan Sharansky held an open dialogue with the students during which he told them: “Masa participants discover their roots while visiting Israel and they discover that the Jewish people is one family. It is very important to us that you feel part of our family and that you represent us upon your return home.”
The event also marked a landmark accomplishment: an estimated one million volunteer hours contributed by Masa participants to the State of Israel every year. All 200 Masa programs, from internship experiences to academic opportunities and everything in between, include volunteerism and social action among their core elements.
Masa Israel Journey is a joint project of Government of Israel and The Jewish Agency for Israel. Its aim is to strengthen the connection between young Jews around the world and the State of Israel. Participants spend 5-10 months in Israel and can choose from a wide range of programs involving volunteer work, studying or professional internships. Over 10,000 young Jews from 60 countries participate in Masa programs each year. Upon their return to their home countries, many graduates become involved with their local Jewish communities and become ambassadors for Israel.