Last week, The Jewish Agency for Israel and Masa Israel opened an International New Media Center in Jerusalem which is staffed by volunteers from around the world who are participating in Masa Israel programs. The center will allow the volunteers to participate in Israel’s public diplomacy activities by sharing their personal experiences of living in Israel under rocket fire with people around the world through social media, utilizing multiple languages. The volunteers were briefed by the Jewish Agency’s Head of Social Media Avi Mayer on Israeli public diplomacy efforts and on the use of social media to get one’s message across.
Benjamin Dannenberg, a volunteer on the Israel Teaching Fellows program who hails from Connecticut, said, “It feels great to contribute in some way, if not to the IDF, then to the State of Israel. We came to volunteer in some capacity. Since we can’t teach now, this is a great way to broaden our message to the world.”
The volunteers come from English, Spanish, Russian and French speaking countries and are volunteering through Masa Israel. The volunteers are teaching English in Israeli schools and interning in various government offices amongst many other volunteer options. Most of the volunteers in the group are living in Beer Sheva and Ashdod where they help to teach English. Over recent weeks they have experienced how difficult life is for residents of Southern Israel living under rocket fire, both in their work with the students and as residents coping with daily life.
The International New Media Center is being opened in coordination with the National Information Directorate, the Foreign Ministry and the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit. The volunteers will use social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and web comments, amongst others.
Masa Israel is a joint project of The Jewish Agency for Israel, whose aim is to strengthen the connection between young Jews around the world and the State of Israel. Participants spend 5-10 months in Israel and can choose from a wide range of programs involving volunteer work, studying or professional internships. Over 10,000 young Jews from 60 countries participate in Masa Israel programs each year. Graduates become ambassadors for Israel upon their return to their home countries.