Last Thursday, 3,000 Masa participants flooded the Binyanei Ha'uma (convention center) in Jerusalem for a night of music, dancing and even a few words from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
MASAFest 10 Year Celebration commemorated the organization's work over the past decade. The event hosted a multitude of Israeli powerhouses including Netanyahu, Chairman of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky and cross-cultural musical phenomenon the Idan Raichel Project.
This year, MASA brought a record-breaking 11,000 Jews from 62 different countries to Israel. Starting out with 4,000 participants from 30 countries in its inaugural year, the organization has grown significantly this past decade. MASA is a joint project between the Government of Israel and the Jewish Agency for Jews between the ages of 18 to 30. Through over 250 programs, MASA participants study, volunteer and intern in Israel for five months to a year.
Special guest Netanyahu kicked off the evening's festivities. Addressing a sea of Diaspora Jews, he stated, "You have dedicated a year of your lives to live in Israel. You came here from many lands to this land, and this is your land. This is your home. Israel is always your home. This is the meaning of Masa."
He then invited his son, Avner, to join him on stage with his participants in Garin Atid. His MASA program unites the Tzofim (Israeli Scouts) with participants from Young Judea from all around the world.
Netanyahu also discussed the most recent reports on Iran's nuclear program slowing down. He stated, "I guarantee you one thing. Israel will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons."
In addition, Sharansky addressed the MASA participants, stating that they are part of the family and future of Israel.
“The 86,000 young people who have experienced life in Israel through Masa will make up the core of Jewish leadership for decades to come. All of you are young leaders of our people," said Sharansky.
After the speeches, the event shifted to the entertainment portion of the evening. With promotional videos, dance performances from MASA participants and fireworks, the room was warmed up and ready to go. The highlight of the opening act culminated in a remix between "Time of My Life" and "Kol Ha'Olam Kulo."
Then, the world renowned Idan Raichel Project played an exclusive concert for MASA participants. Israeli singer-songwriter Idan Raichel blends together an ensemble of musicians from all over the world. Working with more than 95 artists playing a myriad of instruments, the project combines musical styling from different ethnicities and cultures to create a global sound.
Masa participant Megan Garrett from Israel Teaching Fellows in Netanya loved the electronic sound and multi-cultural flair of Idan Raichel's music. "Between the harmonizing voices of all the performers to the variety of instruments, they created a sound that made you move," said Garrett. "Everyone was dancing together in the audience. It was an amazing vibe."
With the release of the project's new album, Quarter to Six, the concert featured a wide range of vocalists, languages and instruments. At this concert, Idan Raichel invited special guest Amir Dadon to showcase two songs he released with the project.
From music to politicians, the event brought a small taste of Israel to MASA participant.
"After living and volunteering for two months in Israel, I felt appreciated and even more connected to the Israeli culture by getting to hear the Prime Minister speak and the Idan Raichel Project perform," said Garrett. "In America, I would never get to hear the president speak or one of the most popular bands play at the same time. It was amazing for them to address my whole purpose of being in Israel."