In Allison Good’s opinion piece, “American and Israeli Students: A Missed Opportunity” (Dec. 31), she cites Spring in Jerusalem as one of the programs that succeeds in connecting American students who are studying abroad in Israel with Israeli students. A joint project of Harvard University and Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Spring in Jerusalem is the first of many immersive study abroad programs in which Masa Israel Journey has recently invested.
In recent years, study abroad has become a major vehicle for cross-cultural and language-skill building. Students’ ability to integrate and immerse themselves locally are key factors in determining whether U.S. universities invest in new programs abroad. To increase the growth of study abroad in Israel, Masa Israel Journey recently awarded seven top universities with $350,000 in seed grants to launch satellite campuses in Israel. These universities include the Olin Business School of Washington University in St. Louis at IDC Herzliya; Barnard College at Hebrew University, and Smith School of Business of the University of Maryland at the University of Haifa. Masa Israel will award more of these grants next year.
In addition to taking courses with Israeli peers, students on all Masa Israel programs are required to take part in immersive volunteer opportunities. Rutgers student Laura Marder volunteered at a shelter for battered woman while studying at the University of Haifa, and University of Maryland student Elisheva Layman tutored students in English at a Jerusalem school for autistic children while studying at Hebrew University.
There are more than 200,000 American students studying abroad each year, an estimated 10 percent whom are Jewish, yet less than 1,000 come to Israel. Masa Israel’s goal is to develop Israel into a premiere hub for international education, and give more Jewish young adults “real” Israel experiences.
North American Director, Masa Israel Journey