Returning to Its Roots, OTZMA to be Transferred to Israel Experience

At the conclusion of this year's program, OTZMA is slated to become a program of the Israel Experience Educational Tourism Services Ltd., a subsidiary of The Jewish Agency for Israel, in a way returning the program to its early roots. Project OTZMA, founded 27 years ago, was originally a joint program of the Israel Forum and the UJA (North America) in cooperation with the Jewish Agency's Department for Jewish Zionist Education. Over the decades the OTZMA program itself has gone through changes; UJA became a part of Jewish Federations of North America, and roughly three years ago - in a cost-cutting move - The Jewish Agency moved away from direct program support. On November 1, 2011, Jerry Silverman - JFNA's CEO - announced the conclusion of OTZMA. Neither at that time, nor at any time since, … [Read more...]

WUJS Move to Jerusalem Appears to Pay-Off

both from Haaretz: Relocation, recession play role in WUJS growth One Israel program bucking the recruiting trend is WUJS, designed for college graduates, which doubled its numbers this year. Its director attributes the program's success to moving away from the South. "No disrespect to Arad, but going there for six months was no longer speaking to young people," the director Mike Mitchell told Anglo File. Financial crisis leaves some Israel programs to flounder, yet others thrive While most Israel programs for Diaspora youth report a significant drop in applications due to the financial crisis, others were able to maintain and even increase their numbers. … [Read more...]

Checking In: Israel Arts Management


It's been almost a year since we introduced some of the members of the 2nd cohort of fellows at Jerusalem's PresenTense Institute. One of those was Tanya Strusberg. Born and raised in Hong Kong, Tanya worked professionally in Australia and also participated in the WUJS Arad arts program prior to making Aliyah. Last Spring, prior to the summer Institute, PresenTense defined her project this way: “A cross-platform arts marketing and PR firm based in Israel with the aim of promoting the creme de la crème of Israeli artistic talent internationally. Tanya’s organization will represent artists from a range of disciplines (theatre companies, musicians, dance companies, visual artists and craftspeople etc) and put her years of marketing and PR experience to good use.” Turn the clock ahead and we've … [Read more...]

Ulpan Etzion & JAFI: They Just Don’t Get It

Let me set the stage with an abreviated story - one in which I have personal knowledge. It's about the venerable R.H. Macy's department store chain. Founded in 1858, it went through various periods of expansion and ownership through its first one hundred years. Macy's was known throughout the world, in no small part to the classic Christmas film Miracle on 34th Street. But what drove Macy's success was the keen sense of merchandise carried through the decades - for Macy's was a store where merchants were at the heart of operations and responsible for the product mix. In 1988, after a particularly nasty and public loosing fight to acquire Federated Department Stores, Macy's began a national reorganization. Among other changes taking place, the merchants were replaced by bean counters. Purchasing … [Read more...]

The Death of WUJS Arad; An Educator’s Perspective


by Aubrey Isaacs The news of the closing of WUJS Arad has caused sorrow to all who have heard of it and maybe to no one more than myself. I served in WUJS for 11 years (1993-2004) as Director of Education, Rabbi, Deputy Director and Director. I guided WUJS through the incredibly difficult years of the second Intifada when buses were blowing up weekly or even daily and spending time in Israel was a hard concept to sell. In those days the going was tough but we struggled on, brought around 65-80 students each year and delivered the best program there was. Recently I have heard many explanations as to why WUJS is closing, ranging from the influence of MASA, to the financial crisis in the Sochnut, to the devaluation of the dollar and to a claim that Arad is no longer attractive and that the Arad … [Read more...]

Hadassah, Tipping Into Decline?


Hadassah just concluded their 94th national convention in Los Angeles. And at the closing dinner Tuesday night, a prominent Medical Center board member warned the organization was on "the tipping point" into decline. Two pertinent facts were stated by Stewart Greenebaum during his remarks: in the past year Hadassah's membership has declined by 6% and dollar donations have decreased by 20%. So, it appears that like every other organization with USD revenue and NIS expenses, Hadassah is facing the reality of the current exchange rate due to their vast array of needs in Israel. But unlike many U.S. organizations, including some of the largest Federation's in the U.S. who are showing fundraising revenue increases for 2007, Hadassah appears to be tracking backwards. I wonder how 2008 is … [Read more...]

WUJS Arad, Still Making News


Student program's exit deals new blow to Arad NJ friends of Israeli town lament decision to relocate WUJS. For 40 years, post-college students from abroad with interests in the arts, Hebrew, and Jewish learning would gather in the desert town of Arad. The World Union of Jewish Students, or WUJS, program regarded the relatively remote town as a sort of “Israel laboratory” that would allow young people to study Israeli society in an intimate, distraction-free setting. Starting this fall, however, WUJS, now run by Hadassah, will move the program to central Israel. And according to supporters of Arad, including New Jersey participants in the Jewish Agency’s Partnership 2000 program, the move is a major loss to the Negev development town. Central New Jersey Jewish federation executive … [Read more...]

Remembering WUJS and Arad


WUJS Arad was a very special program; not only for me but for the thousands who have paraded through this dessert town since 1968. This past Sunday morning when I wrote of the Institute's Arad closing and impending move to Jerusalem, it was out of sadness. To this audience, I assumed newsworthy. But no-way was I prepared for the outpouring of comments from alumni, parents, former staff and others which you can find here (scroll down). I also received a comparable number sent privately. Arad touched thousands of us in different ways. I know of several who did not have the best of experiences at WUJS, but you wouldn't know this from their comments. It seems so many share a sense of loss. There is also an excellent story on present day Arad, Give my regards to Arad (and Amos Oz), in the … [Read more...]