Thursday, July 07, 2005

Masa madness

Gary Rosenblatt echoes some of the criticisms I've voiced about Masa, the Jewish Agency's programme to bring kids to Israel for the year, and adds the most important one yet:
[Critics] question whether the young people enrolling in Masa are the intended target — birthright alumni and others seeking a fuller experience in Israel. Rather, the critics say, most of the Masa participants are students who would
have been going to Israel for the year whether or not Masa existed, primarily Orthodox young men and women coming for a year of yeshiva study after high school. Jewish Agency officials acknowledge those coming on Masa at this point are yeshiva students, but say the numbers from universities and other programs — there are more than 120 affiliated with the program — will increase gradually.
I have no objection to kids going to Yeshiva or university for the year in Israel being subsidised heavily. I'm sure there are people who don't go because they can't afford it, and this is a good cause.
However, if we have limited funds -- and birthright and Masa are competing directly for money -- I'd rather it be spent on the un- and under-affiliated kids targeted by the birthright program. If they are not caught at this stage, some of them are at risk of disappearing from our community, and from the Jewish people, forever. I don't believe those types of kids, who don't have much / enough to do with the Jewish community, are likely to go to Israel for the year en masse, particularly without going on a birthright-type program first. If the numbers of people going on these Masa-sponsored programmes does increase, it will likely be from sections of the community which are more affiliated anyway. So remind me again why we're undercutting birthright?

No comments: