OTZMA: Live and Volunteer in Israel

By OTZMA   Reviews (54)   96% Rating

OTZMA - It's your life. Use it well.

OTZMA is the PREMIER ten-month-long, high-quality fellowship for college graduates, aged 20-26, which combines volunteering, leadership development training and internships in locations throughout Israel.

DEVELOP yourself as a future LEADER in your field, community and society with cutting edge leadership training seminars. Make a real DIFFERENCE to Israel through meaningful service and volunteering opportunities. EXPLORE the beauty and excitement of Israel- hands on!

Program Info

Location: 
  • Israel
Volunteer Types: 
Program Length: 
6-12 months
Cost: 
See site for details.
See Additional Information
Languages: 
English
Hebrew
Housing: 
Apartment
Volunteer House
Travel: 
Participants travel to the program independently (not in a group with other participants).
Application: 
Online Application
Resume
Letters of Recommendation
Phone / Skype Interview
Age Requirement
Health Requirement

Videos

Program Reviews (54)

96%
Positive
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  • Impact
    94%
  • Support
    93%
  • Fun
    95%
  • Value
    93%
  • Safety
    97%
  • sandy
    Age: 31-50
    Female
    San Diego
    Otzma 8 Still Impacting My Life
    05/04/2012

    Its been almost 20 years since I was on Otzma and yet my experiences impact almost every aspect of my life. I had the fortune to be there during both times of war and peace - and yet I never felt safer. I learned to speak Hebrew, not only in Ulpan, but from Ethiopian teenagers! I prayed in a synangogue where the 8 Oztma volunteers were the only caucasians in the shul - and we knew the least! I spent Simchat Torah at the Kotel, and danced with thousands of Jews in the Old City. I met real family, and I became family with my host family - they took me in and took me on vacation. I fell in love - with a man, with a city, with a country and with a people. Our people! Its an experience that has defined me. I would recommend Otzma to anyone who is curious about Israel, curious about the Middle East, curious about Judaism or curious about themselves.

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  • msamis
    Age: 19-24
    Male
    Washington, DC
    TCM International Institute
    Best Decision I Ever Made
    05/04/2012

    Going on OTZMA was the best decision I ever made. I met some of the closest friends I have today, had some of the most unique and wonderful experiences of my life, and found my future heading in a new and exciting direction. They do a great job integrating you into the society and exposing you to all sides of Israel, letting you make up your own mind about what to believe and feel in a way other programs don't. A life-altering program that I'll always remember!

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  • bpasinko
    Age: 25-30
    Male
    Brooklyn, NY
    Time of my life
    05/04/2012

    The overall experience on OTZMA was incredible and I would whole heartedly recommend it to anyone who is interested in such a program.

    As a participant, I would simply recommend saying yes to everything. They say the more you put into it, the more you get out, and that was certainly true from my experiences.

    Having never been to Israel before, highlights for me included seeing all of the sites, education seminars with people you wouldn't normally have access to hear speak and the freedom to do as you wish in Israel.

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  • Jeremy
    Age: 25-30
    Male
    Mountain View
    Life Enriching. Life Changing.
    05/04/2012

    I spent ten consecutive months without being bored. Ever! Think about that.

    If you're willing to throw yourself into something new with an open mind and a can-do attitude (along with incredibly friendly and helpful support from staff) you will have an adventure. I certainly did.

    One of my favorite times on the program was the winter I spent in a small town called Kiryat Shmonah in Israel's north. Here was a typical day: wake up early, walk to the local elementary school to teach English, get coffee with some Israeli twenty-somethings studying at the local college, help teens collect costume donations for a Purim community fundraiser, shop for fresh veggies at the market, make a beautiful fresh dinner together with my room mates, try to bum a ride to a nearby kibbutz pub, and finally hit the hay, exhausted and happy back at the cozy apartment the three of us shared.

    This was the day-to-day adventure. OTZMA also planned fantastic several-day education days and trips to supplement the important social work I was doing.

    I work at a Hillel and recommend OTZMA to each graduating senior. And now I recommend it to you!

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  • lchaimliat
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Boston, MA
    Best MASA Program Out There
    05/04/2012

    I think it can be summed up by a conversation with a friend in my last few days in Israel. He said, "Your departure will be a loss for the country." In Hebrew. Which means I had become fluent (enough), built meaningful relationships, made a positive impact on my community, and had created memories that will last me a lifetime.

    I got to mentor a high school delegation of teens going to America to educate their peers on day-to-day Israel. I translated a coexistence magazine from Hebrew to English. I visited the West Bank. I camped on the Kinneret at Pesach, where I was one of the only Americans around. I saw every facet of Israeli society and fell in love with it all, accepting the faults with beauty of the country.

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  • tamweisman
    Age: 25-30
    Female
    Los Angeles
    Impacted my life
    05/03/2012

    I learned incredible lessons about myself and my connection to Israel and the Jewish People through my volunteer work during Otzma. I met people who became my family and have continued to be close to since returning to the States.

    The volunteerism I participated in through Otzma exposed me to the varied aspects of life and varied communities in Israel. I lived in the center in Tel Aviv and worked with Holocaust survivors. Meeting them and hearing their stories inspired me to live my life to its fullest and never take one day for granted. Their stories will soon be lost, as time goes on, but I know that I will be an ambassador for what they learned from their horrific experience for generations that will never meet them.

    I worked with under privileged kids in Beer Sheva while I myself was learning Hebrew. I taught them English which really is key to their future. The impact that these students left on me inspired me to go into education as a career to continue to inspire youth to reach for their dreams.

    Finally, my journey in Jerusalem exposed me to the important work that the Joint does on behalf of the most needy of the Jewish People spread throughout the world.

    I would be remiss if I did not also mention my host family. I became incredibly close with my host family, joining them for holidays and celebrations. They took me into their home as if I was their own daughter and helped me to understand Israel from their point of view. I learned so much from their hospitality and continue to stay in touch with them.

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  • eblum7
    Age: 31-50
    Male
    Pittsburgh Pennsylvania
    University of Pittsburgh
    Amazing Program
    05/03/2012

    I was on Otzma 10. It was an absolutely amazing year. We started out on Kibbutz Revivim in the Negev learning Hebrew and working a variety of jobs on the Kibbutz. I worked on a farm, in a plastics factory, and I helped rebuild a dairy. Working with the cows was a very cool experience.

    We then moved to Kiryat Yam and we helped out in an Absorption Center near Tel Aviv. We worked with Russian, Ethiopians, and Moroccans. We planned Ethic nights where the residents could experience each others culture. The would prepare their ethnic foods and music. Ethiopian Night was incredible.

    We then spent 3 weeks volunteering in the army. We spent our 3 weeks on Tel Nof Air Force base. We helped clean out a warehouse.

    Our last stop was in Holon. We worked in a community center providing programming for the kids in the neighborhood.

    Throughout the program we would all meet up together to go on hikes and have some educational programs learning about the country.

    I met my wife on Otzma, and we have been married for almost 13 years now. Otzma was such a fantastic program, and it has completely changed my life.

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  • Michael
    Age: 25-30
    Male
    Lake Forest
    California State- Monterey Bay
    My time with OTZMA
    05/03/2012

    The first 3 months of OTZMA were in a beach city called Ashquelon living in a dorms with all the other participants. A typical day was waking up and going to Ulpan for about 3 or 4 hours. The teacher was engaging and understanding of our different skills set. Then we would have time to rest and go volunteer.
    Since our main objective the first 3 months was to learn Hebrew, I volunteered twice a week along with another participant from our program coaching youth soccer at the local sports center. We had a good time helping out the kids with their soccer skills, and I even learned some Hebrew.
    When I wasn't at Uplan or volunteering I took full advantage of exploring the city, especially the beach. One of the highlights of OTZMA was about once a week during our first 3 months we would go on field trips to see different parts of the regions and get different perspectives from the various cultures in Israeli society.
    The next 4 months I moved to a different city up in the north called Carmiel, where I lived with 2 other participants. 5 days a week we would be volunteering in various places; a kibbutz for adults with special needs, a local high school, a Bedouin community, an after school program and a foster home. These were very meaningful experiences that gave me great introspection while helping others.
    The final months I spent in Tel Aviv, where I interned for a newspaper. It was a fast paced work environment, which I truly enjoyed. I was glad that Tel Aviv was saved for last because it was such a big bustling city compared to the first 2 cities I volunteered at, and it was a nice way to end the program.
    The 10 months flew by, I learned so much, made a ton of new friends and gained once in a life time experience. It was amazing!

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  • Rach
    Age: 25-30
    Female
    chicago
    the most rewarding program!
    05/03/2012

    OTZMA Israel is a great opportunity to meet lifetime friends, volunteer in amazing communities in any field that interests you. Amazing educational component. A chance to spend 5 or 10 months in the most amazing beautiful country in the world!

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  • Renee
    Age: 31-50
    Female
    Kensington, CA
    Life changing volunteer experience
    05/03/2012

    I did Otzma almost 20 years ago and still feel very connected to the experience. You are immersed in different communities so truly have an opportunity to learn Hebrew, meet Israelis, and help the local community in different ways.

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  • Shlulit
    Age: 25-30
    Female
    Los Angeles
    University of California- Los Angeles
    Great opportunity for growth and connection
    05/03/2012

    Otzma provided a wonderful opportunity for personal growth and connection to Israel as a whole, the communities we lived in, and the Jewish peoplehood. The program provided a safe and meaningful ways to connection with Israeli communities and allowed me to work in fields that were of great interest to me. I learned so much from the communities I worked with and developed a very strong relationship with my host family and still visit them when I go back to Israel. And if it weren't for Otzma, my Hebrew wouldn't be as good as it is!

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  • kvks
    Age: 25-30
    Female
    Miami, FL
    University of California- Santa Barbara
    Great People, Great Experience
    05/03/2012

    This is a great program. I became part of the local community, met fantastic OTZMA participants, learned new skills through my volunteer and intern work, and traveled around Israel and nearby countries on the weekends. For anyone who is looking for a safe, interesting, and fun adventure - OTZMA is for you.

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  • Sarahg
    Age: 25-30
    Female
    Berkeley, California
    McGill University
    Life changing!
    05/02/2012

    I went on Otzma 2004-05. It was nothing short of amazng. I delved more deeply into Judaism, fell in love with a country, had so many volunteer experiences that helped me discover myself professionally, experienced beautiful nature, bustling cities, learned Hebrew, made great friends, ans grew so much as person. If you are thinking about this prgram, do it! Bring you motivation, a can do attitude, roll up your sleeves, and carve your own path. What you put in, you will get back in spades!

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  • Otzma04
    Age: 25-30
    Female
    New York
    Life changing experience
    05/02/2012

    I participated in Otzma 2004-05. It was incredible. I delved more deeply into Judaism, fell in love with a country, made great friends, and got so many experiences I never could have gotten elsewhere. Before Otzma, I was conflicted about entering the finance career I had prepared for. All of the experiences I had in Otzma (volunteering at a teen crisis center, a kindergarden, a research insitute for counter terrorism, the Israeli yoga teachers' society, a therapeutic horseback riding center, etc etc etc) helped me to discover what truly makes me happy professionally: deeply connecting with others and helping others who are suffering to grow and thrive.

    After Otzma, I ditched my path towards finance and became an integrative psychotherapist. I work in California as well as for an NGO based in Africa. It is an amazing experience to take a year out of one's life and see what work you are drawn to when money is not a factor. As a volunteer with Otzma, I was working as much as I would in a full time job, but all of it was my choice based on my passions. This program has structure, but also allot of room to roll your sleeves up and just get in there, in whichever area you are most drawn. If you are thinking about this program, do it, and don't look back! Bring your motivation, a postive attitude, and hard work, and everything you give you will get back in spades!

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  • Yallah
    Age: 25-30
    Female
    Chicago
    Life changing
    05/02/2012

    What can I say... my decision to do OTZMA was one of the best decisions I made in the last 26 years of my life.

    The best way to learn about a country and connect with the people and connect on a personal level, is to spend a year there living and volunteering.

    Otzma provided me with a life changing experience, that allowed me to connect to Israel through volunteering and living in several areas around the country. It is this experience that has influenced many decisions that I made afterwards and gave me life long friends that I am still close with today.

    Most importantly, I was given the opportunity to give back and hopefully make a impact in the lives of the youth and teenagers that I worked with in after school programs, schools and community centers.

    Are you looking for a way to give back, learn, grow and have an out of the box experience? Than Otzma is the program for you.

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About the provider

OTZMA - It's your life. Use it well.

OTZMA is the PREMIER ten-month-long, high-quality fellowship for college graduates, aged 20-26, which combines volunteering, leadership development training and internships in locations throughout Israel.

DEVELOP yourself as a future LEADER in your field, community and society with cutting edge leadership training seminars. Make a real DIFFERENCE to Israel through meaningful service and volunteering opportunities. EXPLORE the beauty and excitement of Israel- hands on!

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