Journeys to Israel: The Impact of Longer-term Programs upon Jewish Engagement & Israel Attachment

From Section:
Israel Education
Oct. 18, 2010
October, 2010
Participation in semester or year programs in Israel is directly linked to stronger Jewish affiliation and leadership – regardless of the Jewish background growing up, a study commissioned by Masa Israel Journey finds. Masa, a joint project of the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Israeli government which serves an umbrella for 180 semester and year programs in Israel, commissioned the study to measure the efficacy of long term Israel programs for future Jewish involvement and affiliation. The study was conducted by Professor Steven M. Cohen, Director of the Berman Jewish Policy Archive at NYU Wagner and Research Professor of Jewish Social Policy at Hebrew Union College, and Dr. Ezra Kopelowitz, CEO of Research Success.
The study found that the longer the time program participants spent in Israel and the more repeated the experiences, the greater the level of Jewish identification. The study surveyed over 13,000 Israel program participants, more than 11,000 of whom were Americans, and most of whom had been on short term experience or Masa program from 2005 to 2010. It compared three groups who had been on short term programs: 1) those who been on Birthright not returned to Israel; 2) those who returned to Israel for another short term; and 3) those who had been on Birthright and then went on a Masa program. The study also examined two other groups who had been on long term programs only; 4) those non-Orthodox young adults who had been on Masa without going on Birthright, and 5) those who were raised Orthodox and had been on Masa. These two groups reported far stronger Jewish background and childhood Jewish education than did the three Birthright groups

Key Research Questions of the Study:

  • To what extent, how, & for whom does Masa Israel participation affect Jewish involvement and Israel attachment?
  • How do different experiences affect levels of Israel engagement, Jewish leadership, and Jewish involvement?
  • What patterns are linked with different types of Israel program participation, short-term and long-term? That is, how do these 3 groups differ?

1. One-time participants on short-term Israel programs

2. Those who returned to Israel on short-term trips

3. Those who return on Masa Israel experiences


Main Findings of the Study:

  • Returning to Israel for any duration is linked with rises in ALL areas of Israel-related and Jewish engagement. The jump over non-returnees is even larger for Masa Israel experiences of 5-12 months in Israel
  • Participation in Masa Israel experiences is linked with high levels of Israel-related activities, in-marriage, Jewish leadership and aliya.
    • Short-term trip alumni who go on Masa Israel experiences out-score those who return on short-term trips. For Israel attachment, two short-term trips are “good;” but a short-term trip plus Masa Israel is even “better.”
    • Short-term program alumni who went on Masa Israel experiences are more active in Israel-related activities than alumni who returned to Israel for a short-term trip. To illustrate, take the % who engaged in Israel-related political activity…
      • For short-term program alumni who never returned: 17%.
      • For alumni who returned for a short-term program: 36%.
      •  And for alumni who returned on Masa Israel: 50%.
    • Of short-term alumni who return on Masa Israel experiences, 18% of those age 23+ now live in Israel – a rate of aliya that will likely rise.
    • Of short-term alumni who went on Masa Israel experience 91% are in-married, as compared with 71% of those who returned on short-term programs, and 50% of those who have not returned
    • Masa Israel participants are almost 4 times as likely as short-term. program alumni who never return to “give serious thought” to working as a Jewish professional.

  • The combination of a short-term program, by way of Birthright and then Masa Israel is a very effective pathway to move Jews of all levels of Jewish background to intensive Jewish leadership and Israel involvement.
  • Of BRI alumni, 11% go on a Masa Israel experience. Of Masa Israel experience participants aged 23 and over, 58% were on Birthright.

Updated: Feb. 07, 2017
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