An advertisement in New York City’s Times Square on Sept. 4 displayed a send-off message to thousands of Masa Israel Journey (“Masa”) Fellows who are starting their long-term, immersive experiences in Israel.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of young adults from around the world have arrived in or are preparing to travel to Israel for a gap year, internship, study abroad, volunteer or professional training program with Masa. All Masa Fellows are required to enter a two-week quarantine period upon arrival with respect to the Israeli Ministry of Health’s safety regulations and guidelines.

In late June, Masa—founded by the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Israeli government—opened registration for its 2020-21 program year, which started this month.

More than 7,500 young adults from around the world have registered to date. Ahead of the Jewish New Year, 3,000 American Fellows have already landed in Israel, including more than 1,000 from New York.

Among them is Noah Berger of New York, who is interning with the Manufacturers Association of Israel. He said he first wanted to come to Israel to “connect with my identity.”

After he finished working on a political campaign this past year, the job market weakened. He noted that “Masa is an opportunity in a time of uncertainty. I can still grow professionally and develop my career while exploring my Jewish identity.”

Masa acting CEO Ofer Gutman said: “This year, we are celebrating 16 years of Masa Israel programs during a period of heightened demand. The coronavirus crisis has presented an opportunity for thousands of young Jewish adults from around the world who always dreamed of coming to Israel to finally be here. They’re able to experience Israel while discovering their interests, gaining independence and developing professionally.

“As we prepare for the Jewish New Year, we welcome the possibilities it presents. We wish our Fellows a shanah tovah filled with discovery, growth and success.”

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