MASA: Israel better stimulus plan for US university grads facing recession

'Meet Rachel' video aimed at future program participants.

masa girl 248.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
masa girl 248.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
It's comedy night at the local retirement home, and Rachel, a typically Jewish-looking young college graduate who majored in musical theater, is about to embark on her first post-college gig entertaining the old-timers. "How you doing, folks?" she begins with enthusiasm. "Let's see you raise the roof." After being greeted with a deflated round of yawns and a conspicuous blowing of the nose, she decides to refocus on the economic crisis. "Seriously folks, what's the deal with this economy?" she says brightly. "I was at a cash machine the other day and the screen read 'permanently out of service.'" The audience suddenly turns on her: "You don't know what a bad economy is," heckles one old guy fiercely. "We lived through the depression, your recession is for pussies!" an elderly woman retorts. Luckily, the one-minute video clip doesn't portray a real event, but is rather part of a series of on-line commercials aimed at college and post-college age audiences, offering young Jews "a better stimulus plan" for the near future. Among the other nightmare scenarios young Rachel finds herself in is stripping in front of a couple she believes are interested in her becoming a surrogate mother, and being sent out to buy new underwear for her father while working as his secretary. "Oh, god, I absolutely love this job," Rachel complains in a telephone call. "What better way to utilize four years of higher learning than answering phones and making coffee? I swear to god this is the last time I ever work for my dad." "Don't let the economy's downturn be your downturn," a narrator urges at the end of each clip, before encouraging viewers to explore the Jewish Agency's flagship long-term Israel program, MASA, as a way to wait out the recession while earning valuable work experience and enhancing a resumé before embarking on a permanent career. "In December, we realized that young people in the US face a great challenge in terms of finding jobs," explained New York-based Aaron Goldberg, director of recruitment at MASA, which launched the new marketing campaign last week in an e-mail blitz entitled "Meet Rachel." "We thought, what better time is there for them to go to Israel than right now? They can utilize an internship and focus on their career development," he said. The campaign was aimed at those who "are graduating from college and do not know what to do next year, those who have already left college but are unemployed, and other young people who are just unhappy with their job situation," Goldberg said. MASA, which currently has almost 1,800 post-college participants on long-term programs in Israel, is a highly individualized experience, with personalized tracks - ranging from work experience to study programs - tailored to the needs of each person, he said. "It's a customized program. When people apply they inform us of their background experience or what they are interested in and then we match them with a suitable option," Goldberg said, adding that operations for 21-30 year olds in Israel were mainly facilitated by organizations such as WUJS-Young Judaea, Oranim Educational Initiatives and the Israel Experience. Despite the recession, a spokeswoman for MASA told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that participation for the 2009-10 period was still expected to increase. "All organizations are looking for better ways to offer their services at the moment," Goldberg said. "We know that money is tight, but MASA really is an excellent opportunity for someone who is looking for a constructive experience after they graduate from college."