Justin F. – Hillel Jerusalem, Summer 2018
Taking part in the Weekender* in Tzfat was a formative step in my journey this summer. Tzfat, a mystical city known for Kabbalah and fresh air, challenged me to further explore my various identities and how they fit into my Jewish narrative. I was able to meet and become close to other Onward participants as we all celebrated Shabbat together. My experiences in Tzfat featured many cool things: baking bread in a 16th-century oven, exploring and meeting Yeshiva students on my own, and singing Shabbat songs in a cave. In all, my Tzfat weekend experience helped me to redefine my relationship to Judaism and Shabbat, all the while exploring the city with great new friends.
*Weekenders are a series of short enrichment and educational opportunities dealing with personal and professional development, Jewish identity and identification, and Israel engagement and fluency
Dylan J. – Government and Politics, Summer 2018
In just the few short weeks I’ve been in Israel, my internship at the Jerusalem Institute of Justice has been everything I was looking for in a summer internship, and so much more. I have already had the opportunity to attend a committee hearing at the Knesset, to write a position paper regarding minority communities in Israel, have analyzed current conflicts that exist around Israel, and in the region, and how they impact everyday Israeli lives. As a Political Science major, I was definitely looking for an internship that would engage my desires to do formal research, write legal analysis, and study public policy, and this internship has given me a chance to do all those things. Learning and living in the heart of Jerusalem has been nothing shy of an incredible experience, and I’m beyond excited to see what is in store for me in the next few weeks.
Jordan T.- South Palm Beach, Summer 2018
My first weeks at my internship have been an eye opening experience as well as a smooth transition into what Israeli business entails. I work in a jewelry studio and I enjoy the freedom that I have while working. I feel that the business and studio owners of Artemer value my opinion, trust me with the responsibility of dealing with expensive jewelry, as well as allow me to openly express and experiment with my creative vision. So far it has offered me a good amount of challenge and comfort. I’m treated as an equal at my internship and feel welcomed and valued for it. It’s been wonderful collaborating with other creatives who have a shared mission to create beautiful and unique art in a professional yet familial atmosphere. I look forward to the many more weeks to come working at this great place and I am feeling very grateful to have the amazing opportunity to be a part of Israeli’s workforce.
Jake M.- Camp Counselor Program, Summer 2018
As the first two weeks come to a close, we have time to reflect on the program so far. The Onward Israel Camp Counselor program was a special experience in and of itself. Being placed in the center of Jerusalem in such a small group allowed us to become closer with each other and our madrichim in a way that the other participants might not be able to experience. In regards to our internships, we all enjoy the work that we do as well as the opportunity we have been given to function as active members of the Israeli work force. The amount of freedom that we have been given is something that you cannot find on other programs, and it truly lets us get to know the area in the way that we would like to rather than the way that your average tourist gets to. The transition from our first home into the Beit Ar-El campus this past week went about as smoothly as it could have, and we finally got to meet the other participants on the program. We are a little over two weeks in, and everyone is extremely excited to experience what is to come.
Emily F.- Hillel Jerusalem, Summer 2017
“My summer on Hillel Onward Israel Jerusalem was without a doubt one of the most incredible summers of my life….It was really amazing to have gone on a program that gives its participants the freedom to explore Israel as they wish. I interned at the Hebrew University Givat Ram in the Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior Department. While there, I got to work on a study involving different species’ of lizards, which was an extremely unique experience. Even today I am still in touch with the professor I worked under, as we are continuing our work together over email. Being able to live in my favorite city on Earth with incredible people that I will be friends with for the rest of my life is something truly phenomenal. Onward Israel Jerusalem intensified my passion for the land of Israel, gave me valuable research experience, and allowed me to personally connect with the land I consider to be my home. I will cherish Summer 2017 forever.”
Carolina C.- Arts & Culture, Summer 2017
I grew up surrounded by Jewish everything. Jewish school, Jewish camp, Jewish dance, Jewish community club… Until college. College was the first time when I felt distant from Judaism and Israel. I just didn’t know how to get close to it in such a different environment. Last summer, I went on Birthright, which brought up all sorts of feelings and made me promise I would go after that really important part of my life that was missing. And I am so glad I did. One year has passed and I am back in the land of milk and honey and so much more.
I am interning at Shutaf, a non-profit for children and teens with disabilities as well as in a Theatre. My internship along with all the opportunities and experiences provided to me by Onward and Israel Experience have been incredibly fulfilling. But this summer here has shown me that Israel is about so much more than anything I could’ve ever imagined. It is about coexistence, it is about freedom, it is about safety, it is about culture, it is about diversity, it is about humanity. Not a day goes by without me learning something new.
I have the privilege of living with amazing people, in an amazing place, with an incredible internship eating incredible food… I could go on and on and on. From spice workshops to a Druze village experience, I’m seeing a little bit of everything. Being a part of this program is giving me the chance to experience Israel in a different way: it is not just the touristy places. We get to learn about arts and culture from North to South and see the struggles, ride the buses, budget, buy groceries in the shuk, burn pasta in our gas stove… and it all just makes this experience that much more meaningful.
I am ready to start planning my next visit already!
Nathan S.- Arts & Culture, Summer 2017
Theodore Herzl’s famous words, “If you will it, it is no dream,” could not be any more fitting to my experience here in Israel. Six months ago, interning at The Jewish Agency for Israel was merely a dream, and now after already two weeks, it is my reality because of my passion, drive, and persistence to give back to an organization that has given me so much.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been surrounded by various Shlichim (emissaries) that have worked in my schools, community, and college campus – Shinshinim (Young Emissaries), Community Shlichim, and Israel Fellows. Not only did they have an impact on my connection to Israel, both with the country and through lasting friendships, but now a connection to my professional pursuits. After many years of Shlichim coming to me, the tables have now turned. Working in the Shlichut unit, I have been put to work on a variety of projects and initiatives, including developing educational content for Shlichim all around the world to use in their communities. In a couple of weeks, over 200 new Shlichim will convene in Jerusalem for a two week intensive training seminar. There, I will have the opportunity to facilitate sessions, get to know those on the new delegation, and share my experiences and guidance with them.
This past week has been extremely interesting with The Jewish Agency Board of Governors convening in Jerusalem for three days. On the one hand, I had the opportunity to sit in on committee meetings and network with leaders in the global Jewish community. On the other hand, I witnessed the effects of the recent rulings at the Kotel and on Conversion laws as they unfolded, with the Board shifting its focus to discuss how this influences our global Jewish community.
As I walked up the stairs to my office on the first day, I was greeted by the unit’s slogan for Shlichim:
״המסע מתחיל כאן.
למעט מאוד אנשים, יש הזדמנות כל כך גדולה, לעבור כזה מסע בחיים.״
“The journey starts here.
Very few people get an opportunity this big, a journey to undergo in life.”
This is now my opportunity, my journey.
Arielle H.- Pittsburgh, Summer 2017
“When I thought about coming to Israel to get work experience it was a no brainer. I enjoy this country so much and could not wait to return. Although this is my third time in Israel it is a very different experience than the last two times. I am no longer a tourist, but a member of Israeli society. My knowledge of the Hebrew language has never been more crucial. I had trouble getting to my first day of work and I was able to find my way there by speaking to the bus driver in Hebrew, which was extremely satisfying. I also feel extremely lucky to be living right next to the beach. I have been taking advantage of the beautiful sunsets by the Mediterranean by running right when the sun is going down. I am looking forward to the rest of this summer to learn more about Israeli culture and gain more skills in becoming an independent working woman.”
Anneliese F.- Pittsburgh, Summer 2017
“This internship couldn’t be more perfect for me. I’ve taken many business classes, but I’ve learned as much about business in this past month from my boss and all the research I’ve done at work by applying what I’ve learned and being a new member of the FinTech community. Because it is essentially just my boss and I working full time at Genie, I’ve gotten hands on experience with just about every aspect of starting a company.”
Michelle G.- Arts & Culture, Summer 2017
“Coming into the summer I thought two months would feel like a lifetime. Now, it’s like I blinked and it all flew by. I thought I already knew what Israel was like, but living in a city and just traveling throughout it are two remarkably different experiences. I’ve truly been able to experience the city first hand throughout this summer whether that be going to the light show at the old city a million times, watching street performers on Ben Yehuda, or anything in between. This experience has made me truly understand Jerusalem and Israel on a much deeper level than ever before.”
Denise L. – Marketing & Communication, Summer 2016
“I arrived in the apartments in Tel Aviv and met the 20 other people in my program and we hit it off. I was placed with Right-Hear, a startup company that created a mobile accessibility solution for people that are blind or visually impaired and I couldn’t be happier… I was working with a great team that had a passion to empower others. In my internship, I got a taste of a little bit of everything. I created press kits, blog posts, managed some social media projects, did research on growth, and also had the opportunity to do some sales. All in all, my internship experience was the absolute best part of being in Israel. Coming in, I knew I was interested in marketing and entrepreneurship, but having the experience with Right-Hear gave me the insight and validation that what I was seeking is very much achievable.
“Coming back to the United States, I made a great effort in applying what I learned abroad in my day to day life. Although I missed the country and the people so much, I channeled that energy on creating a better career for myself with the experience I had in Israel. I officially applied to be a double major in Marketing and Entrepreneurship (and got accepted!) and kept in contact with my boss to the point that I’ll be re-interning with the company again this summer remotely! Onward didn’t just give me an internship experience, but gave me so much perspective on the country of Israel and the abundant amount of opportunities it holds. I honestly can’t wait to go back.”
Jon G.- Bay Area, Summer 2016
“As an engineer finishing my second year, I was struggling to find any internship. Onward got me an internship that a grad student would dream of in the US. Working four days a week left plenty of time for traveling around Israel with the great friends I made, and best of all was the food. I’ve visited family in Israel nearly every summer, but this was the first time I really experienced the entire culture.”