The delegation, organized by Masa Israel Journey in partnership with the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, includes senior officials from 13 leading U.S. universities and study abroad programs, who will seek to develop new partnerships with Israeli institutions.

US university officials in Israel for new partnerships


Copyright: Yonatan Barkan

(Jewish Agency for Israel – Spokesman to the International Media)

Thirteen senior officials from leading universities and study abroad programs in the United States have arrived in Israel for a weeklong visit aimed at developing new study abroad partnerships with Israeli institutions. The visit is being organized by Masa Israel Journey, a partnership between the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Government of Israel, along with the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The delegation includes deans, study abroad directors, and other senior officials from Brandeis University; Columbia University; Cornell University; Emory University; Georgetown University; Princeton University; Stanford University; Tulane University; the University of California, Berkeley; the University of Michigan; the University of Virginia; and Yale University; as well as the Director of Education Abroad Programs for the Institute for International Education.

Participants will visit the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv University, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Ben-Gurion University, the University of Haifa, Bar Ilan University, and the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya, meeting with top administrators and international student coordinators at all seven institutions.

They will also experience some of Israel’s high tech and innovation hubs and will visit several Masa Israel Journey programs, including a social justice volunteering and internship program in Tel Aviv; an intensive Arabic program at the Givat Haviva center for Arab-Jewish coexistence; and internship programs at the Peres Center for Peace, the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Hadassah Medical Center, all of which are aimed at exposing participants to the diversity of extracurricular experiences and opportunities available in Israel. The trip will conclude with a summit aimed at developing concrete ideas for new study abroad programs in Israel in partnership with Israeli institutions.

According to the Institute of International Education (IIE)’s 2013 Open Door data, 283,332 U.S. students studied abroad during the 2011-2012 academic year. Of those who went abroad, 3,189 chose to study in Israel, placing the country 18th in IIE’s ranking of top study abroad destinations. This week’s visit, along with the process it will set in motion, seeks to increase that number significantly, exposing ever more American students to the unique benefits of studying and living in the "Start-Up Nation."

At the same time, a record 11,000 young people are participating in more than 200 Masa Israel Journey programs this year, experiencing life in Israel through a variety of programs ranging from academic studies and professional internships to Jewish study programs and athletic training institutes. Masa, which is celebrating its tenth year and its 86,000th participant, is a partnership between The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Government of Israel aimed at strengthening young Jews’ connections to Israel and Jewish life through Israel experiences of 5-10 months in length.

Natan Sharansky, Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel, said: "This is the most powerful affirmation of Israel’s increasing importance to the American academic community. America’s top universities are looking to strengthen their connections to Israel beyond anything that has existed until now, and this remarkable initiative by Masa Israel Journey will translate that desire into new programs and new opportunities. We at The Jewish Agency have made bringing young people to Israel a cornerstone of our activities, and we look forward to welcoming ever more American students to experience everything that Israel has to offer."

Liran Avisar Ben Horin, Chief Executive Officer of Masa Israel Journey, said: "Our goal in organizing this delegation is to significantly expand the number of students spending a semester or a year at Israel’s leading academic institutions. This initiative will strengthen the students’ connections to Israel while bolstering Israeli academia and the Israeli economy."