During the pandemic, Masa reported a 36% increase in registration for its Masa Career program and a 40% increase for its MasaGap program compared to 2019.
Every year, thousands of young Jews embark on Masa Israel Journey programs, traveling to Israel from around the globe to learn, volunteer, intern and live in the country like a local.
With many lockdowns and changing COVID-related restrictions throughout 2020, Masa participants had a year like no other. Masa Israel Journey was the first and only program whose participants—non-Israeli citizens—were allowed by the State of Israel to enter the country when it was on lockdown. More than that, Masa actually saw a significant increase in demand for its programs as Israel emerged as a top destination for teens and 20-somethings looking for meaningful experiences despite COVID.
When Gili, 30, from Melbourne, Australia, discovered the Masa Israel Teaching Fellows (MITF) program online, he knew he found the perfect opportunity to try something new in Israel. But three months after arriving in Haifa, COVID hit the country.
“I really wanted to finish the mission here and complete the teaching fellowship,” said Gili, about why he chose to remain in Israel throughout the pandemic.
Many students who had intended to start college in the fall of 2020 opted to instead defer their freshman year once they found out it would only be virtual. With Israel open to Masa participants, many took the opportunity to enroll in a gap year in Israel, like Alexa, 18, from New Jersey, who deferred attending the University of Pennsylvania. Her search for alternatives led her to a Masa gap-year program that provides participants with opportunities to volunteer, study, and gain valuable life skills and experience while also developing their Jewish identities.
Alexa shared: “Masa’s amazing gap year program checked every box for me. I started in Tel Aviv with an internship working at a venture capital firm, and then in the second half of the year, I took classes in Jerusalem. It was definitely a year of discovery and independence.”