With 11,000 participants this year – up from 3,000 in its inception year in 2004 – Masa Israel Journey
has opened a new alumni division, and it has placed regional representatives in cities throughout the United States in partnership with local Federations.
The alumni division's goals, which include a special focus on Birthright alumni, who make up 56% of post-college participants, are to pipeline these Jewish young adults into leadership positions in their communities and empower them to become lifelong advocates and activists for Israel.
These goals were created following a June 2011 survey of Masa Israel alumni in which 86% of those surveyed expressed interest in attending Jewish and Israel-related events, 82% in advocating for Israel, 81% in volunteering in a Jewish organization, and 59% in working in a Jewish organization.
To kick off the division's initiatives, Masa Israel is hosting an alumni leadership summit on Sunday in New York City, which will educate alumni about making their Israel experiences foundations for success in their personal and professional lives.
The event will feature a panel of professionally accomplished alumni who will speak about how their Israel experiences helped them launch careers at diverse companies, including PricewaterhouseCoopers, Teach for America, American Jewish Committee, and the New York Post.
The event will also include workshops in career development, social justice, and Israel advocacy, a Jewish organization program fair, and a networking reception.
"After immersive experiences in Israel, Masa alumni return with deep and personal connections to Israel and Jewish life. They are the future leaders of the Jewish community, and they have the greatest potential to be lifelong advocates for Israel," said North American Director of Masa Israel Journey Avi Rubel.
"Now, more than ever, it is vital that Masa alumni are given opportunities to demonstrate their commitment to Israel, which will have long-lasting ripple effects on our campuses and communities."
To create leadership opportunities for its alumni, Masa Israel is partnering with Jewish organizations, including Birthright Israel NEXT, the Jewish Federations of North America, PresenTense, American Society for Yad Vashem, 3GNY, and Florence Melton Adult Mini-School.
New opportunities exclusively for Masa Israel alumni include: The Masa Israel/Federation Fellows program, which enables selected alumni to act as ad-hoc members of Jewish Federations' Israel and Young Adult Division committees and attend JFNA's TribeFest; a social entrepreneurship course that will guide them in creating projects for the Jewish community; highly subsidized Israeli literature and Hebrew courses; and training to speak about the Holocaust in local public schools.
During the High Holidays, alumni nationwide will speak about their Israel experiences at their synagogues through Masa Israel's "Reflections from Israel" initiative.
Masa Israel's regional representatives in partnership with local Federations are in San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Detroit, Cleveland, MetroWest New Jersey, and Minneapolis.