OTZMA: Live and Volunteer in Israel

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About

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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Reviews

9.62 Rating
based on 55 reviews
  • Impact 9.4
  • Support 9.3
  • Fun 9.7
  • Value 9.5
  • Safety 9.7
Showing 1 - 8 of 55
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Alex
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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!

What would you improve about this program?
Work a little more closely with local programs to ensure quality and coordination for participants, on-site.
Default avatar
sandy
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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.

Default avatar
msamis
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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!

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bpasinko
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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.

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Jeremy
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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!

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lchaimliat
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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.

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tamweisman
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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.

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eblum7
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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.