Young Judea youth hostel248 AJ.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The American Zionist youth movement Young Judaea has announced it will be leaving its large Judaean youth hostel in Jerusalem's Givat Masua neighborhood in August, and will move to a new compound in the capital's Baka neighborhood.
The new site will serve as the movement's Israel headquarters.
The decision to leave Givat Masua comes on the heels of financial cutbacks within the organization, based both on the global financial crisis and the Bernard Madoff scandal, which cost the Hadassah movement - Young Judaea's sole financial sponsor - some $90 million in losses. But Hadassah said on Tuesday that the move to Baka was an unrelated development.
"The move was planned well before the Madoff scandal," Barbara Sofer, Hadassah's director of public relations and communications in Israel, told The Jerusalem Post. "We're always looking for opportunities to change, and this happens to be a great opportunity."
Sofer also explained that Israeli zoning laws required Young Judaea to run the Givat Masua facility as a hotel, and it could not be maintained as a self-sustaining property. The building is currently up for sale.
The new location in Baka, a five-building complex on Rehov Gad, is closer to the center of town than Young Judaea's two previous youth hostel locations. The first was at Beit Riklis on Mt. Scopus, before the Judaean youth hostel was built in 2003.
Young Judaea staff said on Tuesday that the new location would present participants with greater opportunities to explore the capital and enjoy closer proximity to the movement's Merkaz Hamagshimim building and additional student housing - both located in the nearby German Colony.
The group's Israel director, Dan Krakow, told the Post on Tuesday that beginning next year, Young Judaea's Year Course program would be putting a greater emphasis on social work in Jerusalem, and that the new location would only bolster that.
However, Krakow also said the global financial situation had affected the number of Year Course participants.
"We've had a drop in the number of people doing Year Course, but we're also seeing more college and post-college students coming for summer programs," Krakow said.
"Year Course is our most expensive program, so it makes sense that this would be the case during this financial situation," he explained. "That said, college students and birthright graduates who might have trouble finding work right now are also realizing that now is a great time to come to Israel."