1. What is Onward Israel?
Onward Israel is a framework for six to ten week immersive and resume building experiences in Israel for students and recent graduates from all over the world. Many Onward Israel programs are specifically constructed through a partnership between Onward Israel and a Jewish community or organization. For those that are not eligible through a partner program, Onward Israel offers Theme Based programs based on applicants’ desired field of work. Our programs are intended as a more meaningful and immersive follow-up to an initial, short-term experience in Israel.
2. How is the cost of an Onward Israel program so inexpensive?
The actual cost of the program is much higher than the price the participant pays. Programs are subsidized up to 70% by the Onward Israel, private donors, and local Jewish communities and institutions. The price of Onward Israel has been set in order to make it a reasonable and attractive option for students and young adults.
3. What does the price include?
The price of Onward Israel includes housing for the full duration of the program, room and board (most participants receive modest stipends for food), laundry services, transportation for activities and programs, educational programming, insurance, and program staff and supervision. It does not include spending money for recreation and free time, additional travel on weekends, additional money for food not covered by the stipend, and an Israeli SIM card or cell phone.
4. How long are Onward Israel programs? Do I need to participate in the whole program?
The length of Onward Israel programs can vary from six to ten weeks, depending on program type and content. Participation in the entire program is mandatory. Permission to miss days of the program will be considered on a case by case basis by the program organizer. If your program is in partnership with Masa, there is an additional daily fee for missing days of the program.
5. Is this a religious program?
Onward Israel welcomes participants from all Jewish backgrounds and is not specifically a religious program, although there are opportunities to explore your Jewish identity and your relationship to your heritage. You will need to determine your own degree of observance regarding kashrut and Shabbat along with your roommates. During the Onward Israel Breakout Seminar, which brings together participants from different Onward Israel programs over a weekend, the Sabbath will be observed and the food will be kosher.
6. Who can I turn to with any questions while I am on the program?
Each Onward Israel program is run by a licensed Israel-based program organizer, who supplies a full time coordinator/counselor for every twenty-five participants. This coordinator/counselor is the first contact for all questions and concerns during Onward Israel. We encourage you to address an challenges with your program staff on the ground. Should you have any challenges reaching out to your program staff in Israel, the Onward Israel central staff is available. Contact details for the Onward Israel central staff are available here.
7. What is my commitment after the program to Onward Israel?
The Onward Israel program model is based on two post-program activities/gatherings, organized by the local partner. Onward Israel and its constituent partners hope that participants become more involved in Jewish life after their return and that their connection with Israel deepens as well. During the Onward Israel program, participants will have a session dealing with post-program engagement and involvement.
8. Is additional financial aid available?
Beyond the heavily subsidized price of Onward Israel, additional local scholarship sources may be available through synagogues, local Hillels, sources at your Federation, and elsewhere. Feel free to consult with Jewish campus life professionals or other entities in the community to find out about these financial possibilities. Participants in programs which are part of the Onward/Masa partnership may be eligible for additional scholarships.
ONWARD ISRAEL PROGRAM ELIGIBILITY
9. What are the age limits for Onward Israel participants?
The minimum age for Onward Israel participants is 18 (participants who are 18 must be one year post-high school graduation). Participants cannot be older than 27 by the first day of the program.
10. What determines which Onward Israel program I am eligible for?
Onward Israel partners with local Jewish communities and organizations. In some cases, your geographical location will be a critical factor in the program you are eligible for (either your permanent or temporary address); in other cases, your affiliation with a particular university, organization, or framework will determine your eligibility. On the web page for each program you may find a clear definition of eligibility for that particular program. Those who are not eligible for a community program are eligible for Onward Israel Theme-Based programs.
11. What type of other participants will be on this program?
Onward Israel is designed for students and young adults who have had only one previous short-term experience in Israel (Birthright Israel, teen tours, etc). Participants in a given program share either a geographical commonality or a similar affiliation to a local Jewish organization or framework. Theme Based Program cohorts are grouped together by the focus of their internship.
12. Can I participate in Onward Israel if I have never been to Israel on an organized program before?
Onward Israel is designed for students and young adults who have already had one short-term organized peer experience in Israel. If you have never been to Israel before, we strongly recommend Birthright Israel instead.
13. Can I participate in Onward Israel if I have already done a MASA program?
Onward Israel is intended as a second-time, immersive experience in Israel. If you have already participated in a half-year or year-long program in Israel, Onward Israel is not appropriate for you.
14. Can I participate in Onward Israel more than once?
Eligibility for Onward Israel is limited to one time only.* We strongly encourage you to explore Masa program opportunities as the best way to return to Israel after Onward Israel.
*Onward Israel’s Design Your Own Onward (DYO) program is designed for, which gives students the opportunity to design and run their own program in Israel, is open to participants who are alumni of Onward Israel or other medium-term programs. Learn more about DYO here.
15. If I am not able to participate in the entire length of the program, can I participate for part of it?
No, participation is required for the entire duration of the program. The expectations of the placement sites, the educational program, and the subsidy rate, are all based on the expectation that each participant participates in the full length and scope of the program.
16. Is there a registration deadline for Onward Israel?
Since the starting and end dates of each Onward Israel program may vary, there is no one set registration deadline. Each program sets its own registration deadline, which will be clearly indicated on the program website. In general, placements in Israel should be confirmed at least three weeks before arrival, and approximately two months are required to arrange for placements. Given this, registration deadlines will likely be approximately three months in advance to the program opening.
17. Where will I live?
Each Onward Israel program provides housing for the participants based on the city or area of the country where the program takes place. Housing will be in proximity to the placements or places of activity. In most cases, Onward Israel participants live in apartments or in dormitory-style housing.
Onward Israel programs are carried out by a variety of organizers who are chosen through a rigorous selection process. All organizers are required to meet Onward Israel standards (available upon request by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org). While meeting those standards, housing solutions are procured on the open market, and by definition vary in terms of location, amenities, proximity to one another, and type. Onward Israel participants should expect to encounter such divergence as they meet participants from other programs over the summer.
18. What is provided by the Onward Israel trip organizer? What do I need to bring?
All housing provided by Onward Israel trip organizers are required to include basic furniture including beds, mattresses, pillows, blankets, linens and towels (two sets for each participant). All housing must also include a lavatory, bathroom, equipped kitchen (refrigerator, stove OR oven (Israeli kitchens often do not have both), table and chairs, cutlery, and crockery), and air conditioning. Participants should bring spending money, personal belongings and other items as detailed by the packing list they will receive from the program organizer.
19. Will I share a room, and how are my roommates chosen?
The housing arrangements for Onward Israel are generally based on two-to-three residents per room and eight per apartment (subject to more depending on room and apartment size and housing style). Roommate assignments are handled by the program organizer upon arrival in Israel and subject to partner approval.
20. Can I participate in an Onward Israel program without living with the group?
No, living together with other Onward Israel participants is a central and required component of the overall experience.
21. How are food arrangements handled?
For most Onward Israel programs, Onward Israel participants buy and prepare their own food and receive a monthly food stipend, either by cash, check, or through a program-provided debit card. These stipends are either individually based, or in some cases, given to each apartment unit. Food during seminars and overnight trips is provided directly by the program. Food that is directly provided by Onward Israel during seminars and other educational programming will be kosher. Most of the food that is bought individually in Israel is also kosher, but each apartment will make its own decisions about the degree of kashrut it wishes to maintain.
22. Are there host families in Onward Israel?
There are no host families, although some programs might include a weekend in their Partnership Together communities that will include a component of lodging with a host family. The emphasis of Onward Israel is on creating connections with Israeli peers, rather than with host families.
23. Do I need to fly to Israel with my group?
Most Onward Israel programs leave flight arrangements up to the participant. Your responsibility is to arrive at the pre-arranged location for the official beginning of the program. Required arrival times will vary by program and as such participants are expected to arrive in Israel before 10:00 am Israel time on the day their particular program begins. Participants can choose to arrive later on the day of their program start date if they are informed by their organizer that they may do so. Participants are expected to book return flights home for no earlier than 4:00 pm (16:00) Israel time the day that their program finishes. Participants who arrive prior to their program start date and/or who wish to stay in Israel after their program finishes are responsible for arranging their own accommodations. Those who do so are not considered program participants and therefore Onward Israel, its program partners and organizers are not responsible for providing any of the program benefits, including but not limited to housing, health insurance, etc. during that time period. In some cases, the local partner to Onward Israel might organize a group flight; in these instances, the price of the program includes air travel to and from Israel.
24. What is covered in the health insurance?
The organizer must insure each participant with appropriate medical insurance according to the acceptable standards of tourist insurance in Israel for the entire duration of the program, covering from the moment of departure from their home country until their return to their home country at the completion of the program. The organizer, based on the full disclosure of medical information by the participant (as required by Onward Israel) must inform participants of any limitations to health insurance prior to the program start.
The health insurance must cover the following aspects:
- Transportation to hospital when required
- Hospitalization costs including payments for doctors, operations, emergency care, ambulatory care, tests, x-rays and medicine during hospitalization.
- Non-hospitalization medical costs stipulated as necessary by authorized doctors: doctor payments, tests, x-rays, prescription medications
- Emergency dental coverage
- Non-emergency medical needs in the same city that the participant is living in
Please note that this insurance does typically cover pre-existing conditions or any injuries/illnesses that result from drug or alcohol usage.
25. How is laundry handled?
All Onward Israel housing will either include laundry services or have access to laundry services within a short walking distance. Laundry costs are covered in the overall program cost.
26. Are transportation costs covered by Onward Israel?
Transportation costs that are directly covered to the Onward Israel program include travel to and from internship placements through the use of a RavKav (Israel’s monthly public transportation passes), arrival to and departure from the program, and all transportation connected to mandatory educational content. Additional transportation (optional weekend travel, travel for social purposes) is not covered by the program.
27. Is there a program deposit? Is it refundable?
In addition to the program fee*, participants are required to submit a refundable security deposit (amounts vary based on the program). This security deposit will be refunded upon full participation and completion of the Onward Israel program, given that the participant is in good standing and the participant’s housing has incurred no damage.
*In most Onward Israel programs (please check individual program pages for greater detail) there is a program fee that accepted applicants must submit in order to reserve their spot on the program. This is a non-refundable fee to cover the participants contribution to the program. In most cases, participants must also pay for their own travel to and from Israel.
28. Am I required to have an Israel cell phone or SIM card?
Yes. Using an American line on Whatsapp is not acceptable. Your program organizer will help arrange this for you as part of your registration process. Cell phone costs are not included in the cost of Onward Israel.
29. How long are the Onward Israel internship programs?
The length of Onward Israel internship programs are generally a minimum of eight weeks. Internships take place four to five days a week. The beginning and end of the internship programs consist of introductory and concluding programs.
30. How does the internship placement process work?
The process begins by applying for Onward Israel through the application form (available on the Onward Israel website or through the particular Onward Israel program in which you are interested). This form asks you for basic information. Based on this form, Onward Israel’s local partner (the local community or organization that is a co-sponsor of this particular program) will arrange a preliminary interview with you. After you complete the first interview, the Israel-based program organizer will contact you to begin the internship placement process. You will be asked to fill in part two of the application and will be interviewed by phone or Skype by the internship placement coordinator in order to narrow down placement options. After your acceptance to the program, your program deposit is submitted, and once a mutually desired placement is arranged, you will likely conduct an additional interview with your prospective employer. After this interview (at least three weeks before your arrival in Israel) a final decision about your placement will be made.
31. What contact will I have with my employer before beginning the program?
Onward Israel encourages the Israel program organizer to arrange for a phone or Skype interview with the employer as part of the placement process.
32. Will I get a reference letter from my employer in Israel after the completion of my internship?
There are some employers who will supply such a letter if requested. This can be asked for through your program organizer’s internship coordinator or directly from the employer. It is not an obligatory part of the process.
33. If I don‘t like my internship, can I change it?
After beginning your placement, your placement coordinator will be in touch to see how your experience is going. If you are not satisfied with the placement, the first response will be to try to address the issues within the context of your current placement. If the lack of satisfaction continues, it is possible to work with your placement coordinator to find a new placement, within the limits of your areas of interest, geographical location in Israel and placement opportunities.
34. Is Hebrew required to get a good internship placement?
No, Hebrew is not a requirement to get a good internship placement. Our assumption is that the internship will take place in your native language, and that most Israelis you interact with at your placement will communicate in English. If you do know some Hebrew, that will only add to the number of placement opportunities and enrich your interaction with your Israeli coworkers.
35. Do participants get paid for their internship placements?
No. Onward Israel is a highly subsidized program whose program fee includes many of the costs associated with a typical internship abroad, such as housing, local transportation, medical insurance, and more. Please see each program page for more information on exactly what is included in that program’s cost.
ONWARD ISRAEL PROGRAM CONTENT
36. How many trips within Israel are included in the Onward Israel program?
Each Onward Israel program includes 4 days of interactive, trips throughout Israel during the duration of the program. In weeks without a day trip, informal educational programming will be provided at least one evening perweek. In addition, the Onward Israel seminar will likely take place outside of where you live for the duration of the program. Most weekends will be free, and you can travel freely in the country at that point.
37. Are all the content pieces and trips mandatory?
Participation in your placement, the weekly education day, and the Onward Israel seminar are all mandatory parts of the program. Additional aspects may be defined as necessary by the program organizer, and will be fully communicated to you in advance of your decision to join the program. Additional elements will be optional.
38. How much free time will I have on the program?
The amount of free time varies between the various Onward Israel programs. For the most part, placements in volunteer or internship opportunities are for four to five days per week, and educational programming is for an additional day every two weeks. Optional educational and cultural programming will be offered in the evenings. Each program also includes a four-day Onward Israel seminar. Some programs will also include additional Shabbat programs, which will be clearly indicated in the program schedule you will receive in advance of coming to Israel. Most Fridays and Saturdays are free, and participants are encouraged to travel on their own throughout Israel.
39. Can I leave the country during the Onward Israel program?
Given the short duration of the program (two months or less), and the requirements of the internship placements, participants are not allowed to travel outside of Israel during the program. Of course, you are welcome to travel outside of Israel before or after the program. These costs are not covered by Onward Israel.
40. Can I learn Hebrew on Onward Israel?
Hebrew language instruction is not a required part of the Onward Israel program, although participants can enroll in an optional Hebrew course at an additional cost before the beginning of the program. Some Onward Israel programs also offer optional Hebrew lessons if a large enough percentage of your Onward Israel group so requests.
41. How much interaction is there with participants from other Onward Israel programs?
Onward Israel programs are offered to students and young adults from around the world, with each group sharing a particular geographical, organizational, or affinity connection. Several programs are likely to be taking place at any given time. Onward Israel offers optional educational and cultural programming for participants from the various programs, and the four day Onward Israel educational seminar is made up of participants from several different Onward Israel groups.
42. Are There Other Travel Restrictions?
Onward Israel participants are explicitly not allowed to travel to areas under control of the Palestinian Authority; travel to Jewish settlements in the West Bank (Judaea and Samaria) is allowed, but only with explicit and advance approval from the program organizers, and only during daylight hours and by public bullet proof bus.