The first group of 20 volunteers for a six-week Masa Israel Journey program to assist residents in the country’s south arrived this week.
“The new program allows young Jewish adults from around the world to volunteer where they are most needed and contribute to Israeli society in these trying times,” the program said in a statement.
The program’s fellows include volunteers from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, France, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and the U.S.
Their orientation started on Thursday. On Friday, they will attend their first volunteering day picking crops.
The program, designed for those 18-40, will include cooking for soldiers and packaging food, volunteering in education and logistical centers, and performing agricultural work.
Volunteers will also teach children who were evacuated from their homes and communities and provide other types of assistance for refugees in centers around the Dead Sea or Eilat.
Fellows will take part in leadership seminars and meet with local leaders such as city officials and activists. They also will visit heritage and cultural centers and participate in educational programs.
Masa said it has received thousands of inquiries from young Jewish adults who want to come to Israel and help.
“When the war in Israel started, I tried to help from afar, but at some point, I felt like I needed to be closer. I wanted to turn on the TV and hear people speak in Hebrew,” said Eidan Jacob, from New York.
“I want the soldiers of the IDF to know that the Jewish communities love and support them and want to them be safe and victorious,” he said.
“I study business administration and when the war started, I decided to leave school for a bit and come to Israel,” Mike, who hails from Costa Rica, said while picking crops in a field in central Israel.
“I told my professors I needed to leave, and within three days I was here. Now that I am in Israel, I see how important it is to help the people who need me right now,” he added.
Ofer Guttman, CEO of Masa Israel Journey, said, “Ever since Oct. 7, we at Masa, like all Israelis and Jews around the world, have been looking for opportunities to help Israel in the fight for its existence.
“Masa fellows of all programs are volunteering whenever they get the chance, but we found that many young Jewish adults are interested in a program that is designated only for volunteering, for a limited period of time, where they are most needed,” he said.
“That is why we decided to create this program that is tailor-made for them and for Israel. We are proud of the fellows who took time out of their lives to volunteer, and we know that their contribution to Israeli society will be enormous,” he added.
More groups are expected to arrive in Israel during December and January.