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Masa Israel is celebrating its 10th birthday in style, with mazels pouring in from top Israeli officials and newsmakers.

“This year, a record 11,000 young people will participate in Masa Israel Journey, a partnership of the Government of Israel and The Jewish Agency. You have dedicated a year of your lives to live in Israel,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a celebration attended by 3,000 Masa Israel Journey participants.

“You came here from many lands to this land, and this is your land. This is your home. Israel is always your home. This is the meaning of Masa.”

The Masa Israel program is a joint effort between the government of Israel and the Jewish Agency, in an aim to bring young Jewish adults from around the world to spend extended periods of time in the Jewish state.

“All of you are part of this family, part of this country,” Jewish Agency head Natan Sharansky said. “The Masa Israel Journey experience strengthens and enriches the participants themselves, the State of Israel, and the entire Jewish people.

“The 86,000 young people who have experienced life in Israel through Masa will make up the core of Jewish leadership for decades to come. All of you are young leaders of our people.”

A study by sociologists Steven M. Cohen and Ezra Kopelowiz to coincide with the anniversary determined 92 percent of Masa alumni feel a sense of belonging to the Jewish people, 82 percent say it is important to raise their children Jewish, and 71 percent say they have engaged in Jewish educational activities since returning home.

“The apparent impact of Masa Israel is profound in all areas of Israel-related and Jewish engagement,” Cohen and Kopelowitz said.

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