Winter 2007-2008

Trips | Next

MERCAZ USA Newsletter — Winter 2007-2008

Conservative Movement: Embarking on a New "Masa"*

With participation in the USY Nativ Year Course soon reaching maximum capacity, MERCAZ USA is now working with the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism to develop new work/study options in order to increase dramatically the number of 18-30 year olds participating in long-term programs in Israel.

Working with the "MASA" Program, the joint project of the government of Israel and the Jewish Agency of Israel established in 2003 to oversee and promote long-term programs in Israel for the college/young adult population, MERCAZ and USCJ are reaching out to the Masorti Movement, the Green Zionist Alliance-affiliated Arava Institute and Conservative institutions in the Galilee to develop new programs in the areas of internship, environmental studies and conflict resolution.

Founded in 1980, USY's post high school Nativ program enables participants to spend the Fall semester living at the Fuchsberg Center in Jerusalem while studying at either the Hebrew University or the Conservative Yeshiva, and then the Spring semester in the Negev, living and working on a kibbutz or in a community.

From a modest beginning 27 years ago, Nativ has grown steadily throughout the years. During the difficult years of the recent Palestinian Intifada, the numbers dropped significantly but quickly rebounded by 2003. Four years later, the 106 students participating in Nativ 27 is the largest group ever.

As Nativ reaches towards capacity, the Conservative Movement's other long-term program for 18-30 year olds also continues to grow. Now in its Bar Mitzvah year, the Conservative Yeshiva has more than 75 students "learning Torah" in an open egalitarian environment in its full year program, with others coming for shorter periods of time during the academic year and summer.

Having two established "MASA"-recognized and approved programs under its belt, the Conservative Movement is now looking at new options for young adults wanting long-term work/study programs in Israel that are, on the one hand, connected with important contemporary areas of social/political concern and, on the other, infused with the values of Jewish living.

Like the standard "MASA Stagerim" Program, the proposed Conservative/Masorti Internship option is envisioned as providing opportunities to gain practical work experience in Israel, with the added bonus that a Masorti community would both identify the work opportunities from among its own members and would provide ongoing social, educational and religious support to the interns.

Similarly, while the Arava Institute, which is located at Kibbutz Ketura in Israel's Southern Arava Valley, already runs its own successful environmental study program, the planned "Conservative" Arava track would seek to combine the institute's academic program with the study of relevant Jewish sources and take advantage o0f Ketura's progressive religious policies which entail Kashrut and Shabbat observance in all public functions. Click here for more information about the new "MAROM" Program in Sustainable Development and Environmental Justice.

Likewise, a proposed long-term program in the Galilee would focus on inter-religious/inter-ethnic conflict resolution under the academic auspices of the University of Haifa's Overseas Studies Program.

While no official launching date for the three new Conservative work/study programs has been set, MERCAZ and United Synagogue are in serious discussions with "MASA" towards the start of registration in the next 3-6 months. For more information, please contact Nahum Binder, USY Central Shaliach, at or Itamar Kremer, Shaliach to the Conservative Movement, at


top of page | Sitemap

Mission | Programs | Officers | Membership | Our Masorti Affiliates/Life in Israel | MERCAZ USA Newsletter | Israel Trips | Eletters | Links | FAQ's | Home

520 Eighth Avenue, 4th floor  |  New York, NY 10018
tel 212.533.2061 |

© Mercaz USA. All rights reserved.