Masa Israel Journey, founded by the government of Israel and The Jewish Agency, announced several initiatives to assist current and prospective Masa Fellows from Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, and other FSU countries.

As the invasion of Ukraine continues to interrupt and devastate the livelihoods of millions, sending waves of refugees across Europe, Masa is expanding operations to meet a sharp 200% increase in demand from young Jewish adults seeking safe transit and residency in Israel from Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, and other FSU countries. In addition to maintaining an on-the-ground team to answer questions and assist those in need, Masa is fully covering the cost of programming for Fellows from all FSU countries. Fellows who come on Masa programs automatically receive a visa from the government of Israel for one year with the option to extend. These Fellows also have the option of joining ongoing Masa programs, eliminating the waiting period from registration to the start of the program, with greater flexibility for extending their time in Israel.

“Together with the Jewish Agency and the government of Israel, Masa is doing everything we can to support current and prospective Fellows from Ukraine, Russia, and other FSU countries, many of whom are experiencing tremendous uncertainty and loss,” said Masa CEO Ofer Gutman. “Our priority is to bring them to Israel as quickly as possible while offering support as they transition to life here.”

Masa is also committed to supporting the 220 Ukrainian Fellows currently in Israel, offering supportive sessions that are open to all and training their partners to assist Fellows within their programs. On March 1, Masa Fellows from Ukraine were invited to share their stories with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. During the meeting, 23-year-old Leonid Gershenzon, a Masa Fellow from the Kherson Oblast of Ukraine, discussed the dire situation his family is facing in Eastern Ukraine as Russian forces encircle their position.

“My sister, brother, father, my grandmother…they’re in Kharkiv in the east of the country,” Leonid told Prime Minister Bennett, drawing distinction between those in the west who are able to escape to neighboring countries. “They can’t move because, after three days, Ukraine is closed for civilians – they can’t go away, they can’t go out.”

With no heating, electricity, water, or internet, Leonid’s family’s whereabouts remain unknown. Similar situations were shared by other Ukrainian Fellows at the meeting, which was recorded by the prime minister’s office and can be viewed here. Video credit: Itai Beit-On, GPO; Sound: Nir Sharaf, GPO

“Masa has an obligation to support these Fellows, and we aim to continue expanding our resources to provide expedited pathways for them to come to Israel,” Gutman said. “We are happy to provide a solution for Ukrainian and Russian applicants seeking refuge and will support them to the best of our abilities.”

About The Publishers
Masa Israel Journey
Masa Israel Journey is the largest immersive, long-term educational experience for young adults ages 16-35. On its programs that range from two months to a year, Masa offers an authentic, unmediated, and challenging journey into Israeli society, culture, politics, and history – and acts as the largest provider for global Jewry to access the finest Israeli businesses, social enterprises, and academic institutions. Since its 2004 founding by The Jewish Agency and government of Israel, Masa has served over 180,000 young people from more than 60 countries.
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