MASA’s Lost Campaign: An Op-Ed

The new MASA ad presumes that unless unaffiliated Diaspora youth come to Israel for a long term program they will be “lost.”

This advertisement harks back to an older campaign produced about 40 years ago, by the US Federation system on behalf of Jewish education. It was a series of posters and print ads which said “If you’re Jewish, chances are you grandchildren will not be” in a stark typeface that gradually faded from jet black to very light, almost unreadable, grey. It was a much better campaign with a less offensive, more targeted, message.

If you break down the MASA ad it seems that there are 2 main messages:

  1. Only MASA can save Diaspora kids from assimilation
  2. Israelis care about their Diaspora cousins

I presume message #1 includes Birthright Israel participants since the young people on the poster are wearing I Heart Israel T-shirts. This leads me to conclude that MASA wants us to see it as the better investment (or perhaps the only one). I wonder how this will be received by Birthright which is the most logical target population for long-term program recruitment.

If the ad means to encourage Israelis to go after their Diaspora cousins, it presumes they are interested in proselytizing to the “hulnikim.” I’m not sure how many would. And if they did, what argument would they use? Better to target the prospective audience directly (MASA did embark on such a campaign at the beginning of the year with its “Better Stimulus Plan” campaign, although I do not know how successful it was)

It seems more likely that the ad is designed to show MASA supporters that MASA is reaching out to the unaffiliated. This is vital to MASA’s existence since, over the years, MASA has been trying to overcome the perception that it is an ATM for students who would be going to Israel on long term programs anyhow – the Orthodox Yeshiva students, Conservative, Reform and Zionist youth group participants – who make up the overwhelming majority of MASA participants. If the ad is successful, the money will come in.

If the ad succeeds, it does not necessarily mean that MASA will succeed in saving the Jewish people. It does mean that MASA will succeed in saving itself. 

This op-ed was submitted by a source from within the JAFI-MASA world and represents the opinion of the author. The author did identify himself/herself to eJP and requested we post the remarks unsigned.