Masa sees spike in registration for programs

Masa has seen a 36% increase in registration for its Masa Career program and a 40% increase for its MasaGap program above the numbers for 2019.

Participants in a Masa Israel Journey program (photo credit: MASA ISRAEL JOURNEY)
Participants in a Masa Israel Journey program
(photo credit: MASA ISRAEL JOURNEY)
Masa has reported a significant increase in demand for its programs in Israel, with a 15 % increase overall in applications for courses and tracks it offers young diaspora Jews.
Within those figures, Masa has seen a 36% increase on last year in registration for its Masa Career program and a 40% increase for its Masa Gap program. Currently, there are 1,500 Masa Gap participants in the country and almost 1,000 Masa Career participants.
The Masa organization is sponsored by the government and the Jewish Agency. It offers young Jewish adults the chance to experience Israel through various programs.
Masa Career places college and university graduates from abroad in five-month professional internship programs, with Israeli companies and organizations providing participants with work experience and a chance to boost their resume.
Masa Gap offers a variety of programs for post high-school youth centered around volunteering, interning, or studying initiatives.
Many of the recent Masa Gap participants arrived in Israel in August and September and another large influx of Masa Career participants is expected to arrive in the coming months.
Masa Director Ofer Gutman explained that the rise in demand and registration for Masa programs was because COVID-19 caused many young Jews in the diaspora to either lose their jobs or because they were unable to find employment after graduating from university.
Some young Jews have also preferred to delay the start of their costly higher education to a later date because many courses are currently conducted through video conference.
All this has left a large number of them looking for alternatives, and Masa appears to present attractive options.
In addition, Gutman said that many similar international programs for study and volunteering have shut down but Masa has remained open.
The organization will soon also launch “Masa Remote Study” so that students who have opted to begin their university courses online can do so while participating in Masa programs here.
“We’re providing them with networking and volunteering opportunities, as well travel in Israel, life in dorms and extra-curricular activities so they can have a college experience in Israel,” said Gutman.
He noted that many of those arriving now initially registered in the spring, when Israel was still handling coronavirus well. Registration remains high despite the massive increase in infection rates and the lockdown. He said that 230 participants had registered since Rosh Hashanah.
“In this crazy situation, people are rethinking their path, and this is a great time to take a pause and explore Israel,” said Gutman.
“Our programs offer great opportunities for international experience, professional growth and connection to Israel, and even though we’re in a lockdown at the moment,  I think it’s a very temporary situation and I trust the Israeli government that it won’t be long before we’re back to a good situation.”