Five months free in Israel? That’s crazy! I mean 10-days is audacious enough as it is, but 5 months? Crazy or not I spoke to Momo Lifshitz, founder and owner of Oranim Educational Initiatives who claims that thanks to a partnership with Masa (an initiative that helps subsidize long term study for young diaspora Jews in Israel) and some private philanthropists, he can help you weather the economic storm as you spend time in Israel learning, traveling and doing service work on a program called Israel Service Corps (ISC). For free. That’s nuts right? No. As you’ll see, it’s just Momo. As usual, my questions are in italics.
So Momo… what’s the deal here?
Momo: We are going to have at least 200 people participating in ISC through Masa. We are going to be the biggest Masa organizers thanks to this awesome, long term, service oriented Israel program – that is free!
You want to tell us what ISC is?
ISC is my dream. To bring young Jews for a significant experience in Israel, to give back, to do tikun olam, to grow up, to learn Hebrew. Basically it’s a 5-month Masa sponsored program that focuses on education and community service. It began as a pilot program based out of Ramleh and now we will have it in other smaller towns like Netivot, Acco, Arad, Haifa, Yokne’am – in as many cities as we can in Israel. On top of all that, this coming January we have an internship-based program based out of Tel Aviv that already has 50 participants working in exciting areas like high tech, business, education, hospitalty, non-profit management etc.
ISC Participants will enjoy communal life in furnished apartments. Each will be assigned a host family in their respective communities who they can use as a resource, for family dinners and things like that so that they can enjoy a more intimately Israeli experience. There will be intensive Hebrew language courses, tours in Israel, lectures and conversation about Jewish identity and Israel. In return they do volunteer work in education and related issues in the community they live in.
OK, so what does this whole thing cost?
Momo: Cost? It costs $6000. But what do the participants pay? A refundable $500 deposit. That’s it. Masa covers $3000 and the balance comes from private donors who wish to remain nameless at least for now.
Oooh! You’re so mysterious Momo. Come on… give me a hint.
Momo: ××œ ×ª×ª×—×™×œ ××™×ª×™ ×“×•×“
OK, ok relax. So this is pretty much the only Masa-sponsored program that’s free, right? What you’ve done here is kind of bold, some would say audacious. Others would just say crazy.
Momo: Am I crazy? Of course I am, but that’s nothing new.
Well, it kind of makes sense, I mean given Oranim’s position as a leading Birthright-Israel trip provider, this seems like an ideal post Birthright experience for those who want to supplement their initial trip with something a little more long term, no? I mean when you think about it… not really so crazy…
Momo: Of course! And you get the full Oranim atmosphere – warmth, family, welcoming – a positive jewish experience in a pluralistic, open minded environment. ISC is the only MASA program that is completely free – and as far as your airfare goes, we help participants connect with their local Federations and other programs that help subsidize or pay that.
That’s awesome. Where can you go to get more information?
Momo: Just go to the Israel Service Corps Web site and all your questions will be answered.
So why do you do this Momo?
Momo: It is all about love.
I knew you were going to say that.