Tough times call for out-of-the-box thinking. And many recent college graduates who find themselves frustrated by their inability to find a job are doing just that by taking a year off to do community service, travel, or otherwise broaden their world.
Of course, there’s always the Peace Corps or its stateside counterpart, AmeriCorps. But there are also a slew of programs sponsored by Jewish organizations that offer college grads a once-in-lifetime experience that will help launch them on life’s exciting journey.
American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee Jewish Service Corps
Established in 1914, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is active today in more than 70 countries where the agency and its partners work to rescue Jewish lives at risk, bring relief to Jews in need, renew lost bonds to Jewish identity and Jewish culture, and help Israel overcome the social challenges of its most vulnerable citizens, both Jewish and non-Jewish. JDC’s reach extends beyond the global Jewish community by providing non-sectarian disaster relief and long-term development assistance worldwide. For example, in the former Soviet Union, home to the world’s poorest Jews, a network of JDC-supported Hesed welfare centers offer relief to 168,000 Jewish elderly in some 2,800 towns and villages, while Jewish community centers are fueling Jewish renewal for all ages across the region.
The JDC’s Jewish Service Corps offers young Jews the opportunity to directly engage with JDC’s global mission and actively fulfill the value of Jewish responsibility through a yearlong, paid, service opportunity connected to JDC’s overseas programs. JDC offers placements in Israel, the overseas Diaspora Jewish communities, and countries where JDC has non-sectarian projects. Currently, JSC fellows are based in India, Ethiopia, Turkey, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Slovakia, Germany, Israel, and Rwanda. In addition to yearlong placements, JDC recently launched eight- to 10-week Jewish Service Corps opportunities. JDC currently offers placements in Argentina and Ethiopia and is looking to expand the program to include more locations. JDC will help find housing in a secure location, and connect the volunteer with local programs; however, volunteers are responsible for their own expenses. Jewish Service Corps fellows are catalysts for change, creating innovative programs that respond to pressing Jewish and humanitarian challenges around the world while exploring Jewish values underlying their service. Most placements begin in early September and run for one full year. JDC covers round-trip travel expenses, housing, a monthly stipend for basic living expenses, a small end-of-year bonus, and a health insurance package.
For more information and application details: www.jdc.org/service
MASA Israel Post-Graduate Programs
Officially established by the government of Israel and the Jewish Agency for Israel in 2003, MASA is an Israel-based non-profit organization that oversees a host of 150 affiliated long-term (5 months to a year) programs in Israel, many of which are especially designed for college graduates. Here are just a few examples of the MASA programs for post-grads:
Leaders- Adam LeAdam International Humanitarian Aid – A leadership program for young professionals who live, learn and contribute together to communities in need in Israel and developing countries.
Because We Care: Hakfar Hayarok – Educational projects at an agricultural boarding school.
Menachem Begin Heritage Center Israel Government Fellows – a program for those who wish to be involved in Israeli public service.
Bina – A 10-month tikkun olam program based in Tel Aviv.
Eco-Israel, Chava Ve’Adam – A five-month residential apprenticeship program in organic farm-based living and learning.
Jerusalem Culinary Institute – The only Badatz Glatt Mehadrin culinary institute in the world! Learn gourmet kosher cooking, including culinary/pastry arts, wine tasting and restaurant management.
Scientific Maof – Weizmann Institute -a six-month program that comibines intensive Hebrew studies followed by a full semester at the Weizmann Institute of Science.
WUJS Arts – The WUJS Jerusalem Arts program combines studies in Judaism, Zionism and Hebrew language with their own personal art medium such as visual art, music, photography, writing and performing.
Givat Haviva – Hashomer Hatzair – Intensive Arabic Semester – A five-month program of study in a special rural atmosphere for those interested in studying the Arabic language and Middle Eastern studies.
Hanoar Hatzioni Florentin – Ten months experiencing Israel, including learning Hebrew, academic studies, volunteer work, trips.
The Livnot Journey: Livnot U’Lhibanot – To Build and To Be Built – An introduction to Judaism and Israel. Participants work together and live on Livnot’s Tzfat campus, as they hike, learn and do community service.
For more information on these and other MASA programs visit www.masaisrael.org.