(March 30, 2022, Jerusalem, Israel, JNS Wire) Masa Israel Journey, founded by the government of Israel and The Jewish Agency, celebrates Israel’s seventh annual Diaspora Week with four programs to raise awareness of the Jewish diaspora experience among students and young adults in Israel.
Throughout Diaspora Week, a national recognition of diaspora Jewry passed into law by the Knesset and Ministry of Diaspora, over 1,600 Masa Fellows will engage with and meet thousands of Israelis and young students who do not receive this unique exposure to Diaspora Jewry through dynamic programming.
Programs include a Craft your Career professional development event on April 5 for Masa Career Fellows to connect, network and hear from Israelis and top industry executives from companies including Wix, Lemonade, Monday.com, Hyro, Eco Wave Power, and more; and an event for MITF Fellows to exchange experiences from inside and outside the classroom with Israeli teachers and students on April 6. Those who attend this MITF pedagogical event will have the chance to speak with Israeli television veteran Moshe Samuels, producer and creator of The New Jew.
In addition, throughout the week, over 500 Masa Gap Fellows will participate in day trips with 500 Israelis who take a year off prior to joining the army. Fellows will also visit an IDF officer school to share their experiences from the diaspora and impart a deeper understanding of the global Jewish community, as well as experience a variety of local and communal events throughout Israel.
“Masa firmly believes and is rooted in the educational power of an immersive, long-term experience in Israel for Jews from the Diaspora,” Masa CEO Ofer Gutman said. “Diaspora Week is an opportunity for Israelis to gain that same educational experience, gaining insight and creating new networks of connection across the Jewish world.”
Lily Weinstein, a Masa Fellow from Raleigh, NC, came to Israel with her brother Elijah on the Masa Nativ program. After spending five months studying at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Lily now volunteers at a youth village in the north and teaches English to at-risk high school students. The school and youth village where Lily lives has absorbed young Ukrainian immigrants and Lily has been instrumental in supporting their arrival in Israel, including raising $14,000 to create welcome packages to aid in their transition.
“When we learned that Ukrainian refugees would be coming to the Youth Village, a few of the other Masa Fellows and I wanted to make them feel as welcome as we felt when we first arrived, so we started compiling a list of things that would make their rooms feel like their own. Seeing the buckets of everything we were able to provide for them made me so happy that we could make even a little impact on people who have had to endure so much more than anyone should have to,” Lily Weinstein said.
In addition to her support of Ukrainian refugees, Lily and her brother Elijah will also take part in Diaspora Week programming and will be participating in planned day trips to the north with over 40 Israelis. This opportunity to connect with Jews from different backgrounds is extremely meaningful to Lily and she shares her excitement in “hearing about Israel from natives and having conversations about our differences.” Adding, “I’m also hoping to share more about different forms of Judaism, and what my background and Judaism looks like in contrast to that of Israelis.”
As Fellows travel and explore the country, they will learn about Israel’s social and cultural diversity while exposing young Israelis to the Jewish experience from their respective communities back home. Masa Fellows will share their personal stories and teach students about the various histories, traditions, cultures, and even challenges that make up their communities. This unique week will provide an incredible opportunity for Masa Fellows and young Israelis to learn about one another, and ultimately aims to strengthen the bond between global and Israeli Jews.
“Masa has the responsibility not only to educate Fellows about Israel but to educate Israelis about the broader Jewish world,” Gutman said. Adding, “Masa Fellows are the voice of the diaspora in Israeli society as they interact through various sectors as locals. Through their personal and professional introductions to Israelis throughout their programs and during Diaspora Week, Israelis experience a profound connection to Jewish communities from around the world. The bridges that are built during this crucial week help connect the Jewish people while strengthening our shared future.”
About Israel’s Diaspora Week: Inaugurated in 2016, by Israel’s Knesset and Ministry of Education, Diaspora Week aims to expand and deepen the knowledge of Israeli citizens about Diaspora Jewry, to strengthen the connection and sense of belonging between Israelis and Jews around the world, and to increase the identification and recognition of Diaspora Jewry as a strategic resource for the continuation of the Jewish people.