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 46 - 55 of 55
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Tizmania
9/10

The best year of my single life

I participated in Otzma in the late 90s, but I know that the program has kept its integrity.

I had a wonderful experience. You are exposed to every corner of the country, education programs, people from all walks of life - and it is extremely fulfilling to volunteer.

From Kibbutz life working in an eyeglass lens factory, to scaling cliffs in the Golan on a hike - the experiences are diverse and exciting.

Every day into the program, you feel more comfortable with the country, until you call it a second home.

I would not hesitate to do it again - though this time it would have to be with wife and kids :-)

Yes, I recommend
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evesapple
10/10

An Opportunity of a Lifetime in Israel!

This program with OTZMA allowed me to make an impact not only in parts of Israeli society, but on myself. It offered me the opportunity to work with so many wonderful people, forge life-long friendships (I did the program over 20 years ago) and grow as an individual and member of my community. I would absolutely recommend this program!

Yes, I recommend
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alyssac8
10/10

A life changing experience

Otzma was the perfect program for me to participate in following my graduation from undergraduate school. It allowed me the opportunity to meet other young adults with similar interests, spend truly meaningful time in a country I adore, and learn so much about another culture and about myself.

Yes, I recommend
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Srlevey
8/10

Experience it! Do it! Go!!!

Project Otzma was/is one of those life affirming experiences. The age requirments are perfect in that during those formative years our core values, beliefs and the direction our lives are taking is being solidified.

The experience was at times amazing and joyful while at other times difficult and challenging. It is those experiences that you go through with your fellow participants and Israelis that make the program priceless. At different times throughout the program you work the land, navigate and experience "big" city life, work in business and connect with people.

If you are looking to "find yourself" and/or gain an experience that few others will have, then Project Otzma is for you. When you return and people ask you, "so, how was it?" and you smile and respond, "so, how much time do you have?". You will undertand the amazing gift you have just recieved.

Yes, I recommend
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EML1215
10/10

Best Decision of my Life

Gordy Zacks, chairman of the R.G. Barry Corporation and former advisor to U.S. Presidents on Israel coined the term “defining moment”. My ten months in Israel as an OTZMA fellow was one continuous defining moment. Ten years after departing the United States for Israel as an OTZMA fellow, I still find myself reflecting on the greatest year of my life.
OTZMA opened my eyes to the Jewish Federation system and enabled me to serve as an instrument by impacting the lives of people in need in Israel. At the same time I developed a life long connection to Israel, a connection that has guided my career path and guides my passion.

One day I will never forget is the day I made a connection with a group of Ethiopian immigrants. Less than two hours before our meeting, they arrived in Israel for the first time. Many arrived with only the clothes on their backs. I worked with Jewish Agency staff to introduce them to their future – to introduce them to the land of Israel. Since that day I have dedicated my professional life to sustaining the global Jewish community and connecting people to Israel.

The passion I developed while on OTZMA gave me the energy to develop a teen trip to Israel for Jews, Christians, and Muslims for Jewish National Fund. The passion continues to fulfill me as a professional in the Jewish Federation system first in Philadelphia and in Monmouth County, NJ. Now I organize and lead Taglit Birthright Israel trips to continue the connection. Ten years later OTZMA is impacting my life and the lives of others. Thanks OTZMA!

Yes, I recommend
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Julie_sd
10/10

Changed my life for ever

I participated on Project Otzma from 1993-1994 (Otzma 8). Without a doubt Otzma changed my life forever. I met my husband on Otzma. It was unbelievable spending a year with other passionate, intelligent, motivated and socially conscious college grads. I worked and studied Hebrew on Kibbutz in the stunning Negev desert for 4 months. By the end of that period I was comfortable speaking & understanding Hebrew. Then I moved to an incredible youth Village (boarding school for underprivileged kids). We taught English & acted as mentors to new immigrant kids from Ethiopia and the FSU as well as native Israelis. This was among the most powerful experiences of my life. I have gone on to become a Marriage & Family Therapist largely based on some of the experiences I had here. I later went on to an agricultural kibbutz experience where I learned about the Arab Israeli- Jewish Israeli conflict. Then I spent the remaining 4 months working at a special education school in the center of the country.
If you want to give deeply of yourself while gaining immeasurable experiences and meeting life long friends Otzma is THE experience for you!

Yes, I recommend
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Alex
9/10

See Israel through your own eyes

Plenty of experiences and opportunities to travel and live in Israel exist, but only Otzma lets you explore the country and meet the people on your own terms. Aside from some supervision early on and facilitation of volunteer/housing arrangements throughout, Otzma allows you to live without feeling overshadowed by a "Program" and free to connect with people and places as an individual.

Otzma also is structured to give you the opportunity to be exposed to many different corners of the country, both geographically and socially. Most people never visit the places you can see during this program, let alone live there for weeks or months-- this helps to provide a more natural and intense experience, formative for a deeper relationship with Israel and her people.

The time I spent on the program gave me fluency with the language, bus system and culture that I doubt you'd be able to otherwise find. Far beyond the semester abroad experience, Otzma is the way to really go native.

Yes, I recommend
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Robin
10/10

Fantastic Program

OTZMA is a wonderful program. There was enough structure to make you feel you had support and direction, but enough space to encourage you to utilize your own talents to make the program fit your strengths. I solidified my Hebrew knowledge, worked with children, taught swimming and English, had a meaningful internship, learned about and experienced Israel in depth, and had a lot of fun! I made friends that will last a lifetime, as well. The most important thing to remember on the program is that OTZMA is what you make of it. The outline of the year is provided for you, but think outside the box--if you love drama and you're asked to teach English then write a play in English to combine the needs of the community with your skill set. Not learning enough Hebrew in ulpan? All of Israel is your ulpan...go speak to the taxi driver, the people at the beach, the employees at the grocery store. Make mistakes. Explore. Be a leader. Support your fellow participants. Have a positive attitude. Make the most of each day you have. Ask for help when you need it. The program provides it all, you just have to make it fit. It's fantastic, challenging, and exciting. A once in a lifetime experience!

Yes, I recommend
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M.A.D
10/10

OTZMA 25

I was a participant on OTZMA 25 and it was the most amazing experience of my life. I had never done too much traveling, volunteering, or too much learning of my Jewish heritage. Within 10 months, I was able to learn Hebrew, volunteer in 3 different places, skydive, learn the many different cultures that make up Israel, and so many other amazing experiences. I never once regreted my decision to leave a good job and go over-seas to volunteer for a whole year. The people on my program were amazing and have become very close friends. I highly recommend OTZMA to anyone who wants to see and experience all that Israel has to offer.

Yes, I recommend
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SunshineDaydream
10/10

OTZMA: The Year That Changed My Life

At the end of summer 2010 I flew to Israel and would remain there for a ten-month long volunteer program. At the beginning of the program all 33 of the participants lived together in an Ethiopian Immigrant Absorption Center in Ashkelon. While there we participated in Ulpan, an intensive Hebrew learning class. This helped us to better be able to volunteer in our communities in the future. We also all partook in different volunteering, including playing sports or hanging out with at-risk youth, going to after-school community centers, selling clothing at thrift stores, and much more. On our off time we all had the chance to study our Hebrew, talk about our new lives, and become one big family. After a few months we all split up and moved all over the country of Israel. I, along with three others, moved to Rehovot, a small town outside of Tel-Aviv. While here I worked in two schools helping to teach English, and to just be a positive new influence in the children's lives. I also worked at an at-risk after school community center. The town of Rehovot wasn't the most fun, but my friends and I had an apartment and we certainly made the best of it. After four months in Rehovot, I moved to Jerusalem with half of my program participants. Here I volunteered for a media relations and public affairs firm. By the time I was living in Jerusalem I had really seen my progression of my time in Israel. I had learned the Hebrew language, I had made deep connections with both Israelis and other people who were in Israel doing similar things I was, and I had learned my way around the country for traveling and its culture and customs. The day I left Israel to fly back to the United States was drastically different than the day I flew there. Not only were my emotions different, but as a whole, I was a different person. I thank OTZMA from the bottom of my heart for the experiences I had in Israel, and for many I have had since coming home.

Yes, I recommend

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...