Against Rules, Israel Gap Year Program Rejects Applicant Because of non-Jewish Mother
In a rare, if not unprecedented decision, a young South African woman was recently rejected from a program sponsored by Masa – the umbrella organization that runs hundreds of educational, volunteer and internship programs in Israel – on the grounds that her mother isn’t Jewish.
Masa, which is funded by the Jewish Agency and the Israeli government, is meant to be open to any individual eligible for Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return, which includes children of mixed marriages.
The program that rejected 18-year-old Demi Putziger, a graduate of King David High School in Victoria Park, Johannesburg, is affiliated with Ohr Somayach, the Orthodox outreach movement, Haaretz has learned. Ohr Somayach, which enjoys a strong presence in South Africa, runs various yeshiva programs for young men in Israel. This specific gap-year program, however, targeted non-Orthodox high school graduates from South Africa and Australia.