Today, most Israelis neither attend a synagogue nor enjoy a communal focal point. This creates a gap between the intimacy of family and friends and the more distant social duties to the state and society at large. This community space, which is so essential to quality of life, has been neglected. By helping to fill this gap, Masa Chai aims to rebuild the social vitality of Israeli society.
Masa Chai has set as its goal to bridge this gap in Israel.
Masa Chai Builds Pluralistic Community:
Masa Chai is the Israeli branch of the American Jewish community-building program Chai
Mitzvah, adapted to best strengthen community awareness in Israel.
Masa Chai provides a platform for motivated individuals to study relevant Jewish texts
together, and carry out projects in the local community related to these texts. The projects
reflect the rituals and traditions of the Jewish calendar, and concentrate on social involvement and mutual responsibility.
In this way Masa Chai participants achieve a deeper and broader awareness of Jewish
values and their relevance to a secular, pluralistic and modern society in Israel.
Men and women from widely different backgrounds meet to study and plan social action as well as to define a new understanding of and commitment to traditional rituals.
Masa Chai Participants:
Participants are diverse - immigrants from the former Soviet Union, Arab and Jewish women from neighboring communities, mixed groups of Ethiopian and veteran Israelis, young parents,
retirees, and gap-year students.
How Masa Chai Works
Each Masa Chai group meets 12 times during the year to discuss texts taken from classic
Jewish sources, from the Bible to modern literature, poetry, and philosophy. Groups with mixed Arab and Jewish participants also study sources from Arabic literature.
Each group also organizes two events based on the principles of Masa Chai:
One for the community at large and one for the group members and their families. Examples include organizing a holiday celebration at a community center; volunteering at a pediatric ward at a local hospital where Arab and Jewish families are thrown together by circumstances; or
organizing after school clubs for local children.
“It is the first time I have grasped the significance of Judaism through its values.”
Hila, instructor of the Ethiopian-native Israelis Masa Chai group in Pardes Hannah
“Because of Masa Chai each group comes to understand itself better
so that it can relate to and build bridges to others outside their group.”
Merav Sela, Director of Migdal HaEmek community center, and
participant in the Arab-Jewish Masa Chai group
“Masa Chai has taught me to appreciate the values that stand behind the word
‘Judaism.’ I will surely bring it into my personal life.”
Nir Potel, graduate of Masa Chai in Haifa, and armor unit IDF soldier
Yosefa Drescher, Director, Masa Chai
Yosefa Drescher was born and raised in Massuot Yitzchak. After her army service she studied photography at the Hadassah College in Jerusalem and worked as a staff photographer in local Jerusalem weekly magazines and later as a free-lancer for national magazines.
Yosefa also studied Jewish philosophy at the Hebrew University. She holds an MBA from the University of Haifa.
In 1994 she moved to West Hartford CT and worked as a free-lance photographer for
magazines and nonprofit organizations. She exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions and won awards. While in West Hartford she graduated from the University of Hartford and was involved in establishing Chai Mitzvah in the US.
Yosefa moved back to Israel in 2010 where she established, and is the director of, Masa Chai (as subsidiary program of Chai Mitzvah) a pluralistic social action and Beit Midrash program. The program has groups in diverse geographic and socioeconomic locations in Israel.
Masa Chai Groups Run in the Following Locations:
Acco (two locations)
Jerusalem (two locations)
Yafia / Migdal Ha’Emek
Past (Most ran for more than one year. Some locations ran more than one group):