• I am happy for this new opportunity to communicate with you once again – now as part of our new Onward Israel newsletter, no longer a stand-alone update. I hope you enjoy this new format and through it, feel part of the vibrancy, excitement and passion of the Onward Israel experience for our more than 2,000 participants in 2017.

    To begin with, congratulations to all of our partners around the world and in Israel who worked so hard to make this our biggest summer ever-growing by more than 40% from last year’s previous record enrollment. Onward Israel is a mosaic of seventy programmatic options, offering opportunities for a broad range of interests and motivations. Each program stands on its own- offering a unique experience to its participants; together, combined with the motivating first experiences in Israel which provide the launching pad for the Onward Israel return visit, we are proud to make our contribution to increasing the Jewish vitality of University age students at the most critical years of identity formation.

    The macro potential of Onward Israel, in particular as it expands, is exciting. But as we launch our 2017 summer programs ( 76 participants have already arrived), I would like to focus for a moment on the micro level- on each unique participant we will meet over the next few months. We know that identity is a complex and fluid concept, a competition of compelling and competing opportunities and obligations and the compromises between them. It is on this playing field, that each participant will soon immerse herself in a new professional opportunity, new social relationships, new living challenges and the old/new interaction with the landscapes, people and issues of contemporary Israel. They will meet much which is comfortable and rewarding, but also much that is foreign and challenging: they will feel at home and abroad, detached and belonging, inspired and frustrated. They will often join together and often embark on their own divergent pursuits.

    The educational challenge of Onward Israel is to facilitate this dynamic while also guaranteeing the quality of the experience, the safety, well-being and security of the participants, and the smooth functioning of groups, work situations and educational activities. Our commitment is to enable a highly satisfying experience for each participant- an opportunity to grow personally and professionally and to deepen knowledge about, and engagement in, Israel and Jewish life. We are ready and excited to get going.

    As we set out on this latest chapter in our mutual work, I wish all of us a rewarding, engaging and inspiring summer. It will surely take us Onward!

    Ilan Wagner

    President and CEO, Onward Israel