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

96%
based on 55 reviews
  • Impact 9.4
  • Support 9.3
  • Fun 9.7
  • Value 9.5
  • Safety 9.7
Showing 31 - 45 of 55
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name
10/10

Amazing experience and Incredible Opportunity

OTZMA is one of those experiences that has the potential to change your life. It was most definitely life changing for me, as I learned so much about Israel and myself throughout the amazing 10 months of experiences. One of the highlight of this program over the many Israel programs to chose from is it's variation. OTZMA has 3 distinct parts, as well as other seminars and trips that really give participants the tools to experience all of Israel- no barriers, no holds, and there are many different aspects to the program that give it a wholistic approach to Israel. There are some things on the program that even Israelis don't have the opportunity to do- like meet with Arab Israeli english students and have engaging discussions about Israel. The program has 3 main parts. The first part is what I would consider the get acquainted to Israel part, where you get to know everyone in the group really well, study a bit of Ulpan, start volunteering a little, and take lots of trips and educational seminars. This part really helped me prepare for the next 6 months ahead. The second part, my personal favorite, is the full time volunteering in a small city in the periphery. This is really such an amazing opportunity to live in some of these really small communities and to experience Israel on a whole new level that you ever had before. I was placed in Beit Shean, where my volunteering was unbelievably rewarding and had a tremendous impact on both the city of Beit Shean and my own life. In this part, it's really important for participants to take initiative and make the most out of living in these small communities. The people in these communities are so warm, and have so much to offer. It's really a tremendous experience. The 3rd part is an internship in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. I was in Jerusalem, and I loved it! I had a really great internship and lived with some of the best girls I know. Part 3 overall was a really nice chance to spend some time in the city after being in smaller communities throughout the year. Basically if you sign up for OTZMA you are should be ready for a year of amazing experiences, new friends and even family, and an incredible opportunity to learn about Israel, yourself, and give back to the communities. It's a great program to do post-college when you are at a cross-roads and unsure what to do. Trust me, OTZMA will help you figure out. As long as you have initiative and the ability to take advantage of the awesome opportunities presented to you, you are in for the best year of your life!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Sarah
10/10

Otzma changed my life!

My experiences on Otzma changed my life in ways that I never expected.
My participation on Otzma was among the first cohort of participants in 1986-87. We were excited, enthusiastic and had no one to tell us what to expect. We were halutzim/pioneers.

In addition to living on kibbutz, learning hebrew and volunteering in a variety of settings, I also met the person who would become my husband and the father of my (now teenaged) children. At the time of our wedding we joked that when/if we had kids, they might be eligible to participate in Otzma 30 - and now, with our eldest heading to college in the fall, those prophetic words could become reality!

Our amazing year spent volunteering, learning, and deepening our connection and relationship to the people and the land of Israel, profoundly affected me and the direction that my life would take. I cannot recommend Otzma highly enough. If you are interested in being challenged in more ways than you can imagine - Otzma will change your life.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Shalva
9/10

Next year in Israel

We all grow up with the thought of "next year in Israel", this program makes that a reality. I absolutely loved my experience on Otzma. I learned Hebrew, met some of my best friends, and volunteered in several different capacities. I got a chance to tutor Ethiopian kids, untangle parachutes on an army base, work in a community garden, bake alongside troubled youth at a local bakery, and even work as a hotel maid on an eco-kibbutz. Most of the program centers around volunteering, but there is also an educational component, as well as a chance to tour the country. Never would I have been able to experience anything like the opportunities Otzma introduced to me.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Clover2481
9/10

Amazing Program in Israel

Went on Otzma 2004-2005 and had a great time. Was a life changing year! Great way to better understand Israel and feel a part of the country rather than a visitor. Made life long friends both in and out of Israel too.

Yes, I recommend this program
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OtzmaXIV
10/10

Otzma XIV participant

Otzma was a life-changing, life-affirming program. The program not only provides an opportunity to live in Israel for a year, but allows for enough independence that you can actually taste and experience Israeli life.

Each several months provides you with a different experience, both in work conditions and in living situation. Throughout the year, there is structure, free-time, play-time, travelling, learning, and ample opportunity for self-exploration and learning. Support is present, close by, very present but not smothering.

To this day, many of my closest friends are those that I made during my year on Otzma. Together we played, cried, worked, and explored our Judiac and Zionist ideals and newfound adulthood.

I would highly higly recommend this program.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Jared
10/10

Most Amazing Year!!

OTZMA is an incredible way to really experience life in Israel as it allows participants to truly interact with Israelis from all walks of life and make a real difference in their lives. I had the incredible opportunity to help teach English to kids and teens, assist those less fortunate in different communities and intern at organizations helping promote Israel and Zionism. Aside from volunteering, participants also learn all about the country's history, culture, people and politics through an excellent education program. Additionally, regular tours and excursions plus plenty of free time allow participants to explore the country on their own. Overall, OTZMA was a life-changing experience which I would highly recommend to anyone interested in spending time in Israel and giving back to the community.

Yes, I recommend this program
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TracyLee
10/10

O's Up!

Otzma is one of those experiences that will never leave you. The people, the place, the ups, the downs, are all a mumbled conglomerate of awesome. I was able to achieve things through this program that I never thought were possible. I was able to experience Israel in all of its capacities. I was able to give back to a country that had/has given so much to me. Otzma is the best decision I have made thus far in my life. It challenged me to really look inside myself and learn.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Goldbe63
10/10

OTZMA: My career path

OTZMA was the best decision I ever made in my life. In the summer of 2008 I was feeling lost and without direction. I was about to enter into my final year at Michigan State University and I had NO idea what I wanted to do with my life. I knew that I didn't want to be a speech pathologist even though I had already spent 4 years studying to do so. That summer I took a job working with Young Judaea as a staff member on their summer trip to Israel for High School students. While in Israel I ran into someone I sort of knew from Michigan State and asked him what he was doing in Israel. He started telling me all about this incredible year he had just spent on OTZMA. As soon as he started telling me about this program I knew I wanted to be a part of it. When I came home that summer my mind was made up I was doing OTZMA.

I was so excited when I was finally accepted into the program but I had no idea how much it would change my life. I had spent a lot of time visiting Israel and doing all the touristy things but I had no idea what it meant to live in Israel. Through my time in Israel I experienced many life changing moments, from tutoring High School students, in English to spending time with my adoptive family and really feeling part of the family. Through my volunteering and amazing educational opportunities on OTZMA I came to the realization that I wanted to work in the Jewish community. A few months after my return from Israel and I was doing just that working at the Jewish Federations of North America.

My year on OTZMA I learned things about myself and Israel that I would never learn anywhere else. I am proud to say that OTZMA gave me direction in life and I am forever grateful.

Yes, I recommend this program
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bigftcohen
9/10

Experience Israel through its people and not a tour bus

OTZMA was and is an amazing experience. Having traveled to Israel with Taglit-birthright and later attending Hebrew University my Junior Year abroad I felt like I never connected with Israel. The majority of my time over that year I felt like a tourist, hopping from city to city on buses, representing Rothberg and not meeting Israelis. Toward the end of the semester I knew I needed to come back to Israel to really have experience where I felt apart of the country and not an outsider.

I learned about OTZMA from friends and after researched realized it was the PERFECT program. OTZMA places you in situations where you are learning and experiencing the country through its people and not the windows of a bus. Living in an Absorption Center, learning Hebrew with new Olim (immigrants), volunteering with the locals I began to forge relationships with not only the members of my group, but those I worked with and learned Hebrew with. Following my three months in the Absorption Center, I was placed in Chicago's partnership city of Kiryat Gat. When you ask anyone in Israel where's Kiryat Gat, you get two answers. 1. The INTEL Factory is there and 2. OH!!! My Birthright bus stopped there on the way back from Eilat at the mall. My goal was to leave K-gat with more knowledge of it and the surrounding cities and the people who lived there. Working in an adult care, with children in after school programs and with immigrants on learning how to use computers (setting up email, online banking...even understanding how to "double click" to open an application,) I felt I was able to give back to a small city and leave with so much more. The last part of my journey on OTZMA was living and interning in Jerusalem. Being back in Jerusalem for the first time since Hebrew University, I really wanted to be a part of the city, the culture and day to day life that happened.

During both part 1 and part 2 of my time in Israel with OTZMA I was able to travel to all the different cities my co-OTZMAnikim were living in and meet their friends, work with them in their placements and experience Israel in a broader sense. I traveled from the North to the South and East to West and when I left Israel to return to the States, I knew I was leaving one home to return my old home.

OTZMA gave me the opportunity to fall in love again with the Israel I first new and leave loving the country, its people and the land so much more. Living, working and hiking among Israelis and my fellow participants has made my bond with Israel stronger.

OTZMA will give you a chance to be a part of something bigger than yourself. Educational days, speakers, hikes and the volunteering will change your life for the better. You will leave feeling a better version of yourself than when you arrived 10 months earlier.

Yes, I recommend this program
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sarmcohe
10/10

A Year Like None Other

My year on OTZMA was a formative and life changing experience unlike anything else I've ever known. I spent 10 months as a volunteer living and learning in the country that I had only ever read about in Sunday school. Suddenly all that I had heard and learned as a child came alive. I was living in the desert and learning Hebrew; I was teaching English in the North next to the Lebanese border; I was grocery shopping in the Jerusalem shuk each day after working at my internship. I made Israeli friends and learned the language that they spoke. This was not a tourist experience; it was a REAL experience.

OTZMA is wonderful for many reasons, but for me, the main reason was the opportunity to live in the periphery. I came to Israel for 10 months and experienced more of the country than most Israeli's have ever experienced. It's unique and special. Even more than living in the periphery is the engaging education program which OTZMA offers. We hiked, visited historical sites, learned about current issues in Israeli society, and heard all sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I highly recommend this program to anyone who is considering a year in Israel after college.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Benny
10/10

Otzma is the best 10-month Israel program there is

If you're not associated with a youth group that has its own Israel program (e.g. Young Judea), and you're not particularly religious (i.e. not interested in a year of yeshiva study), there's few better options than Otzma.

The program's structure gives you experience in several locations/activities over the course of the year. And if you value the US-Israel relationship (as I do/did), representing your home community by volunteering in groups among Israel's disadvantaged is an invaluable experience.

Highly recommended; email me if you have any questions about my experiences or the program generally. [email protected]

Yes, I recommend this program
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Rachel
10/10

For a meaningful experience in Israel, check out OTZMA

OTZMA was such an amazing experience where I spent 10 months in different parts of Israel volunteering. It's hard to give you an idea of a day-to-day routine since each day was something different. To break it down, there are 3 tracks on OTZMA.

Track one is meant to help the group acclimate to life in Israel by learning hebrew, staying all together in a small city of Israel (for me it was Ashkelon but each year the location changes), volunteering a little bit, getting to know the community, and by attending education seminars.

Track 2 is when you divide into your partnership regions. Cities in the US (and all over the world) have partnerships with smaller cities in Israel. Since I'm from Chicago, I spent my track 2 in Kiryat Gat. In your partnership region you can volunteer in various fields. I personally decided to teach english at an elementary school, help tutor kids in High school, work at the community garden, and various other things. This was my favorite part of the year!

Track 3 is an internship or a kibbutz experience. I worked for StandWithUs - an amazing Israel advocacy organization.

And one of the most amazing things about OTZMA is the educational component. These seminars included topics such as "peace and conflict," "minority populations in Israel," and so many more!

Yes, I recommend this program
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rachfest
10/10

Life changing experience

When I look back at my 10-months on Otzma, I smile. There are some days when I wish I was still on our porch in Kiryat Gat or working in the Gan in Afula. My world and my future was sealed during those 10 months. My only regret, that the program was not longer. Had it been longer, I know that I would have stayed. From my adoptive Israeli family, to the friends I made, each day and each moment was an awakening. My career today is because of those experiences. I look forward to many more trips to Israel, because when you return to Israel it is like "coming home".

Yes, I recommend this program
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Otzma
10/10

An Experience of a Lifetime

After completing college, I wanted to make an impact both in Israel and in myself. Otzma is a well run, well supported, and well organized program. There are a variety of service programs built into the 10-month experience. There is enough structure to be able to know you are making an impact. There is also enough free time to be able to experience the Israel and all that it has to offer.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Jared
10/10

Great Year

Had an awesome year. Got to immerse myself in Israel and had plenty of time to travel and explore on my own on top of the volunteering. The program allows you to be very independent if you want to be, which I think is its best feature.

Yes, I recommend this program

About OTZMA

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...