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Masa Participants Deserve Recognition For Their Work

An Image I took of Jaffa during my Gap Year in Israel - Courtesy of the Author
Courtesy of The Author

The Masa Israel Journey is the leading organization for long-term Israel experiences. Masa participants can choose from various 2–12-month programs ranging from career prep, gap years, study, and community service. Masa was founded in 2004 by then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and the Jewish Agency for Israel.

Being away from home and living in a different country can be challenging. It takes a lot of courage to leave friends and family to live in a foreign country on your own. Financially, it can put a lot of pressure on the participant and the family.

Currently, Masa participants do not have the proper recognition they deserve for their hard work. Knowing that the benefits are solely based on experience, not having any financial support for the participant could make their living experiences and pathway into adulthood even more challenging, especially in another country away from family and friends. The participant’s parents can’t always afford for their child to be on their bank account. Plus, when it comes to taking public transportation near and far, there should be an option to allow students to ride transit at no cost.

Having unpaid interns in Israel is already illegal, but the only exception is for Masa participants. To note, Masa Israel Journey is partly funded by the Israeli government.

Masa participants are young adults who can’t necessarily fend for themselves yet, which could lead to poor financial habits. Unpaid internships could also lead the intern to work another job, although Masa currently does not allow that.

That is why at the end of each work period, each Masa fellow should receive a stipend of around $1,000-$1,500 that celebrates their achievements and can accessibly help the intern in the future. Aside from a stipend option, Masa should also opt for a “for credit” option to allow participants to get college credit for their experiences. The “for credit” option would require the approval of the student’s university advisor and the intern’s supervisor.

Onward, which is Masa’s summer internship program, and Masa’s gap year programs that have internships should give their interns some recognition of why they are doing their internship, other than just for the experience. As a former Masa gap year participant, I had an internship that was not paid or for credit, and much as I enjoyed the internship work and the experience I developed from it, an end-of-internship stipend could have easily helped me benefit with future endeavors that have and will continue to lead me to independence.

About the Author
Perri Schwartz is an activist and writer based out of Atlanta, Georgia. She is a 2021-2022 alumnus of the Young Judaea Year Course gap year. She interned with the Israel Daily News Podcast while on Year Course. She is also on the autism spectrum and is super passionate about making the world a better place. You can follow her on Instagram, @thezioprincess.
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