The young Jewish diplomat

Joshua Buchalter

A joint initiative of Masa Israel Journey and the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs brings Masa alumni to a unique Diplomacy Summer Leadership Incubator to gain tools in international relations.

This summer, 25 accomplished Masa alumni were selected, out of dozens of applicants, to take part in a diplomacy course offered by the Masa Summer Leadership Incubator in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The participants were selected from the USA, South Africa, Spain, Ukraine, Argentina, Guatemala, Italy, Honduras, and more! Over the course of six weeks, the alumni will learn about diplomacy firsthand by speaking with leading figures from Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Each alumnus will walk away with a stronger understanding of diplomacy, and of the importance of the work the Ministry of Foreign Affairs does to support organisations like ours, that connect Jews from all backgrounds.

In addition, special attention is dedicated to Israel and the Middle East, the opportunities and challenges Israel is facing in the area – from economic issues to global climate change and, of course, how Israel is handling and fighting Antisemitism, de-legitimisation and BDS.

One of the fellows selected to take part in this course is Joshua Buchalter, 28 years old, from Knysna. “I got an email from Masa to apply for the incubator, and I was accepted. The course is fascinating. I don’t know many people who get this opportunity.” Buchalter grew up where there were just a handful of Jewish families and no synagogue. “Being Jewish without a community meant I was often the odd one out and asked questions about Judaism that I had no idea how to answer.” Joshua decided to join the Cape Town Jewish community on ‘Encounter’ – a trip to Israel for 12th grade South African Jews that planted the seed for a profound journey. It was an experience that strengthened my connection to Israel and meant a one-way flight to the Holy Land. That’s when I decided to join Masa.” 

Masa Israel Journey is the largest immersive, long-term educational experience for young adults aged 16-35. On its programmes that range from two months to a year, Masa offers an authentic, unmediated, and challenging journey into Israeli society, culture, politics, and history – and acts as the largest provider for global Jewry to access the finest Israeli businesses, social enterprises, and academic institutions. Since its 2004 founding by The Jewish Agency and the government of Israel, Masa has served close to 200,000 young people from more than 60 countries. “I was supported by Masa during my studies in Israel and making Aliyah,” says Joshua. “For the past year I was selected for the Shlomo Argov Fellowship in Diplomacy, and moving forward my aspirations are to combine media and politics relevant to Israel and the Jewish world.”

In South Africa, MASA Israel Journey operates under the Israel Centre, offering the community a wide range of programming available in Israel.  The SAZF Cape Council not only promotes these programmes but is also happy to facilitate meetings and introduce interested community members to the programme organisers.

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• Published in the September 2023 issue – Click here to start reading.

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