Sunday, March 14, 2010

Perk for the chosen class: Recession-driven flight of U.S. Jewish Zionists to easy life in (American bankrolled) Israel

Many young American Jews choose to wait out recession in Israel - subsidized by government
(Reuters) --

Fed up with the tough job market, some young American Jews are choosing to wait out the recession in Israel, where the government heavily subsidizes their stay while they intern, learn Hebrew or volunteer.

According to Masa, a group that organizes programs to Israel and is partially funded by the Israeli government, participation is up 50 percent since the fall of 2008. Today, Masa has more than 1,500 Americans working in Israel.

Masa's Aaron Goldberg said interest has been rising since the financial crisis, which gave them the idea for their "Israel: A Better Stimulus Plan" marketing campaign.

"Before the economic crisis, there wasn't that impetus to look beyond the traditional career path," said Goldberg, Masa's director of recruitment. "Now there are less jobs and less internships, so this becomes a great way to add something to your portfolio."...

Since its founding, Israel has sought to attract Jewish youth to ensure its survival as a Jewish state. But the recession has proven a good marketing tool...

Most programs are short-term, meant to immerse young adults in a foreign culture while boosting their professional skills. But some participants have decided to stay on after their internships ended, after receiving job offers...

For some, the appeal of Israel is religious. For others it's practical: life is cheaper there. But overwhelmingly, participants say they are surprised by Israel's work culture, which encourages flexibility and a better life-work balance.

"It was never a problem to ask my boss if I could come in late or leave early," recalls 27-year-old Rachael Freedman who interned at a Tel Aviv architecture firm after losing her job in 2008. "It's definitely more relaxed."...MORE...LINK

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