Jewish Agency, North America federation raise $3 million for Masa Israel

This donation comes at a turbulent time for Jews in former Soviet Union countries, resulting in many of them looking to spend time in Israel.

Masa welcomes new fellows demand for long-term programs in Israel rise (photo credit: MASA ISRAEL JOURNEY)
Masa welcomes new fellows demand for long-term programs in Israel rise
(photo credit: MASA ISRAEL JOURNEY)

The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) recently raised $3 million in 24 hours in order to accept hundreds of Masa Israel Journey applicants, many from Russia and the former Soviet Union (FSU), who were placed on a waiting list pending budgetary approval.

Upon hearing of the waiting list, The Jewish Agency turned to the Mandel Foundation and to the Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund of the Jewish Federations who immediately and generously committed $3 million, which is currently in the approval process to be matched by the Government of Israel for a total of $6 million.

“The accelerated fundraising push at the end of the year is due to these unexpected applications which were not taken into consideration in the initial 2022-2023 year budget,” the Jewish Agency said.

“Fostering Jewish leadership is a core mission of the Mandel Foundation and I’m delighted that, together with the JFNA, we are able to help additional young Russian and FSU Jews participate on the meaningful Masa Israel Journey program.”

Steve Hoffman, the Mandel Foundation.

This donation comes at a turbulent time for the region, resulting in many young Jews looking to spend time in Israel. As the Jewish Agency saw the number of olim (immigrants) from the FSU rise, the organization worked with Masa to increase the number of program scholarships available to participants from the region. When the Masa budget was finalized, the number of scholarships budgeted was 1,550 participants from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.

However, now that the year has begun, Masa has received hundreds of additional applications for these pre-Aliyah and employment training courses that exceed the budgeted 1,550 participant slots. The total financial need for these unbudgeted participants totaled $6 million.

 Masa Israel Journey launches its 18th programming year  (credit: Masa) Masa Israel Journey launches its 18th programming year (credit: Masa)
“When we learned of the additional young Jews from Russia and the FSU who wanted to join Masa, there was no question we had to do everything to make it happen,” said Jewish Agency Chairman of the Board Mark Wilf.

“Fostering Jewish leadership is a core mission of the Mandel Foundation and I’m delighted that, together with the JFNA, we are able to help additional young Russian and FSU Jews participate on the meaningful Masa Israel Journey program,” said Steve Hoffman, Chairman of the Board of the Mandel Foundation.

“Our Jewish Federations did not hesitate, immediately raising the necessary emergency funds for Masa to expand its capacity during this difficult period," said Julie Platt, Chair of the Jewish Federations of North America. "Moments such as these make me truly proud of the global support network that Jewish Federations have built to respond to the needs of Jewish communities, not just in North America, but in Israel and across the globe," Platt said.

Masa Israel Journey, The Jewish Agency and the Government of Israel’s long-term Israel experience program, was created 19 years ago in order to increase the number of young Jews who had a meaningful experience in Israel. To that end, Masa has encouraged the development and creation of 200+ programs that can attract young people to Israel. These programs are varied and can be highly specific to areas of interest, academic studies and employment opportunities.