MASA was established as a joint project by the Jewish Agency and the Prime Minister’s office under Ariel Sharon in 2004 to enable thousands of Jewish young adults to spend a semester to a year in Israel on over 150 approved programs. Since its inception, MASA has made it possible for 27,000 people to live, work, study and volunteer in Israel; the goal of MASA is to have the number of Jewish youth studying from abroad or working in Israel reach 20,000 per year.
In order to increase the number of young Jewish adults from around the world who participate in quality, rewarding programs in Israel, MASA has outlined the following agenda:
- Bring increasing numbers of participants per year , from post high-school age through age 30
- Generate interest among Program Organizers to create quality, innovative long-term programs to reach the widest range of participants in this age group
- Set educational standards for all participating programs and overseeing their compliance with these standards
- Provide financial, marketing and educational assistance to program organizers and incentives for growth and development
- Provide financial assistance to participants in the form of grants and scholarships
- Provide activities for participants throughout the year to increase their exposure to Israel culture, and connection to Israelis and to participants in other MASA programs
- Connect the graduates back into Jewish life
- The MASA website, available in English, French, Russian and Spanish, serves as a portal for information about Masa programs, grants, program developments, newsletters and applications.
More than 5,000 participants of the MASA -Israel Journey programs, celebrated the end of their year in Israel at a mega event on erev Lag B’Omer, May 22, 2008 at Latrun. This year, over 8,000 Jewish youth between 18 and 30, from 50 countries, including more than 5,500 from North America, spent a semester or year studying, volunteering or interning in Israel through MASA.
Three participants in the Young Judea Year Workshop recently met President George W. Bush during his visit to the Masada desert fortress. The three were spending three months volunteering on the Masada archaeological site as part of their MASA – Israel Journey activities.