OTZMA: Live and Volunteer in Israel
96% Rating
(55 Reviews)

OTZMA: Live and Volunteer in Israel

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!

Locations
Asia » Israel
Language
English
Housing
Apartment
Hostel
Starting Price
$0.00
Currency
USD
Other Locations
All over Israel

Questions & Answers

Program Reviews

  • Impact
    94%
  • Support
    93%
  • Fun
    97%
  • Value
    95%
  • Safety
    97%
Show 1 - 15 of 55
Default avatar
Alex
10/10

Personal-developing, Career-advancing, year-long immersion

I signed up for Project Otzma looking for an inexpensive way to spend a year after college learning and adventuring overseas (in Israel), and it turned into one of the turning points of my life. Billed as a leadership development and volunteer program, I looked forward to teaching English and working with kids, with time to adventure and explore the country on top. The educational and leadership curriculum organized by the staff and facilitated by outside professionals added so much value to the program, it make me re-consider my professional goals and helped me find my life's calling.

Otzma arranges three 3-month sections, starting with language immersion courses and a few hours of volunteer work per day, moving onto full-time volunteering in one of several dozen communities across the country, and a final stretch of working on a kibbutz, serving in the army or doing some kind of internship. Each three-month chunk is peppered with enrichment events, either with the entire group or locally in the base city. Attendance at large-scale educational and networking events were also very common.

One of the best things about Otzma, aside from the attentive staff, is that the program organizes all the logistics you can imagine-- apartments, transportation plans, food stipends, curricula-- all you need to do is show up and jump in. Definitely among the best ways to spend a post-college year!

How can this program be improved?

Work a little more closely with local programs to ensure quality and coordination for participants, on-site.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
sandy
8/10

Otzma 8 Still Impacting My Life

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.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
msamis
9/10

Best Decision I Ever Made

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!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
bpasinko
10/10

Time of my life

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.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Jeremy
10/10

Life Enriching. Life Changing.

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!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
lchaimliat
10/10

Best MASA Program Out There

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.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
tamweisman
10/10

Impacted my life

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.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
eblum7
10/10

Amazing Program

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.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Michael
10/10

My time with OTZMA

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!

Yes, I recommend
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Rach
10/10

the most rewarding program!

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!

Yes, I recommend
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Renee
10/10

Life changing volunteer experience

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.

Yes, I recommend
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Shlulit
10/10

Great opportunity for growth and connection

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!

Yes, I recommend
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kvks
9/10

Great People, Great Experience

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.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Sarahg
10/10

Life changing!

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!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Otzma04
10/10

Life changing experience

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!

Yes, I recommend

About The Provider

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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...