Sunday, June 05, 2005

More on Masa

According to the Forward, the Jewish Agency's new Masa program will cost the government and the Agency $100m. over the next three years. Here's the financial low-down:

The funding will go to market and expand some 120 existing Israel study and volunteering programs and provide scholarships to needy students between ages 18 and 30. The programs' tuition fees will generated [sic] another $100m..... Programs under the Masa umbrella include overseas-students' programs at Israeli universities, leadership courses of Zionist youth groups such as Young Judaea and Habonim Dror, plus a variety of volunteering and internship programs including Otzma and Volunteers for Israel. Masa will seek to boost participation in such programs by expanding existing frameworks and tailoring new ones to individual needs...

1. So, it sounds like a large chunk of the money this programme is supposedly giving away is actually going towards marketing pre-existing programmes. Many / most kids won't be getting anything for free; the programmes still expect to get up to $100m. (!) in tuition fees. I would assume that the programs will actually see a financial benefit over the 3 years as more fees come in thanks to the marketing campaigns. All the press coverage, however, has basically been saying that the program will be 'bringing' these kids to Israel -- implying the money will be put into their flights, tuition, etc. and going directly to to the kids. In reality, it seems, the majority of the kids will be 'brought' to Israel mostly though marketing and convincing them to spend money......
2. I'd be interested to see a full list of the programs that Masa will promote and contribute to. Are any religious programs included -- specifically, the yeshivot? I don't see why they shouldn't be if this is a program intended to strengthen kids' Jewish identities.

Related: Saul Singer on Masa in the JPost; OOSJ.

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