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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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!”
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 to take back to Cornell, and allowed me to personally connect with the land I consider to be my home. I will cherish Summer 2017 forever.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
Julia B. – Boston Haifa, Summer 2018
“I jetted off this summer to Israel in pursuit of excitement, independence, and challenge. After completing my sophomore year as a Biology student at Amherst College, I relished the opportunity to step outside my western Massachusetts bubble and to immerse myself in a totally new environment. Onward has afforded me the ability to learn about Israel—its culture and customs, its food and its feuds—first-hand, through experience and engagement.
I am interning for Prof. Tami Katzir at the Edmond J. Safra Brain Research Center for the Study of Learning Disabilities at the University of Haifa, studying moral development, anxiety, ADHD, and reading comprehension. At work, I’ve been exposed to a completely new field of academic research, learning about the intersection of psychology, education, and statistics. Watching my coworkers’ dedication has reignited my own love of learning. My coworkers’ passion for cultivating engaging and effective learning environments for all children fills me with hope for future students and gratitude towards my own teachers and educational opportunities.
Because we largely study reading development in native Hebrew speakers, I have also gotten a unique perspective on the Israeli education system and the distinctive challenges that it faces from my coworkers and mentors. I treasure these personal connections, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to learn about the country from its citizens. I have been able to stay overnight with a Druze family, tour a pluralistic Jewish Kibbutz, and learn about the medical care system by shadowing a doctor at Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba.
I set out this summer, in part, to discover what matters to me: What type of work excites me? What brings me joy? What am I willing to fight for? I don’t know that I have any answers yet, and I’m not sure that I’ll necessarily find them in the time that I have left on Onward, but after having spent a month in Israel, that uncertainty doesn’t seem to bother me so much as it did before. Meeting new people, navigating through unknown cities, and living independently have given me a newfound sense of confidence and autonomy. Adapting to a new country has challenged me to break routine, to explore, to question, to listen attentively. I hope to hold onto this Israeli spirit of adventure, curiosity, and camaraderie as I continue to develop my own identity and to learn about the world around me.”
Sarah G. – IsraeLinks, Summer 2018
“I recently graduated from Case Western Reserve University with a B.S. in Music Education. Once I return home from Israel, I will be starting a job as a music and choir teacher for middle schooler students in the Chicago area! This summer, I have had the unique opportunity to work with a local street band called Las Piratas Piratas. As an intern for the band, my job has primarily been arranging music. On any given week, I am either compiling full scores, arranging new instrumental parts, writing a vocal arrangement, arranging a mashup, or all of the above. Most recently, I completed a mashup of a traditional song they often perform called Do What You Wanna and I Want You Back by The Jackson 5. Las Piratas Piratas has been around for several years and they have a set repertoire from which they play. They brought me in because they were looking for ways to refresh their music clean up the organization of their scores.
This internship is a little out of the norm, given the fact that I work for a musical group that rehearses once a week and does not have an office. Luckily, I get to work out of the office of the company Bar-Kayma. The office space is called The Bureau. Bar-Kayma for Culture, Art, Music, and Peace is a non-profit arts management company that “fosters a creative community and encourages utilization of technology, humor and crowdsourcing to form independent and innovative artistic and cultural enterprises” (http://www.barkayma.org). The company collaborates with over 20 arts groups and helps simplify the bureaucracy for them. The Bureau is the perfect space to develop creativity. It is an artistic environment and by nature has a chill vibe. People come to the office to meet with the CEO, Noam, and the Project Manager, Lidia. I am usually on my computer, with earbuds in, and Sibelius or Musescore front and center on the screen. I really appreciate being able to work alongside such driven and creative people.
This past weekend, I joined some of the Las Piratas Piratas band members in some arts and crafts and singing. We gathered at one of the member’s houses and sewed costumes for upcoming performances. Afterwards, I led a rehearsal of two new vocal arrangements that I had created a couple of weeks prior. I love working with this group of people because they are all so fun and friendly. All the members of the band work well together as colleagues and friends to make fun and entertaining music. People from all over Jerusalem enjoy their fun music in the streets and in several different venues around the city.”
Nina D. – Onward Israel IsraeLinks, Summer 2018
“My internship is volunteering with the ambulance service Magen David Adom. In preparation for my position, I attended 200 hours of intense emergency medical training with other MDA volunteers.
As a nursing student in my last year of college and a trained MDA volunteer I thought I would be well prepared for what I was about to experience as an EMT in Israel. However, what I did not realize was that the lesser traumatic emergencies are what touched me the most.
As a volunteer, I ride in the back of the ambulance with the patient. My job is to oversee all the patients’ needs during their transport; assessing their status, taking vitals, using critical thinking, and much more. Through volunteering, I am able to expand my medical knowledge and cultural horizons by working with other Israelis and having a look from the inside of day-to-day life in Israel.
You would think the things that would stick with me the most would be the gory cases – a child who experienced head trauma dripping in blood, back-boarding a patient in a motorcycle accident, or a semi-conscious man in a hypoglycemic attack. Yes all these things I witnessed, but it’s the little things that have left a mark on me. Holding the hand of a frail old woman the entire ride to the hospital or watching a 13 year-old patient in his wheelchair being sung to by his entire class of students and rabbi were incredibly emotional moments. These experiences of human kindness and compassion are what has elevated me and given me a love of the people and my experience.
It’s not every day I get to save someone’s life, but every day I have the opportunity to positively impact someone’s life and that is so meaningful to me. My place here I will hold dear for the rest of my life.”
Marshall I. – IsraeLinks, Summer 2018
“Growing up on the South Shore of Long Island I was like most of my classmates, Jewish. We were the majority. Throughout my entire life I didn’t have to explain what being Jewish meant to me or how I lived “Jewishly” because we all did – holidays, challah, matzo ball soup, chopped liver, lighting Chanukah candles and of course exchanging gifts, all the typical Jewish-y things.
It wasn’t until I started attending Indiana University where, for many of my new friends, I was their first Jewish friend. This was a startling experience and with all the questions they asked me, I began to feel being the only Jew was a weight on my shoulders. They were so intrigued and eager but, I didn’t feel that I knew enough about Judaism and especially the State of Israel to fill their void – and led me to the realization that I have a void where I should have knowledge!
Like many others, I attended Hebrew school three days a week. I continued this still a little after my bar mitzvah when I didn’t feel a reason to continue my education. None of my friends did, and it was just not a thing anyone put any emphasis on, including my parents. Now, as I continue to explore my Jewish identity, I almost wish that they had.
In December of 2017, I travelled to Poland with a group of Jewish students from across the United States. We were fortunate enough to be accompanied by a Holocaust survivor – none other than Dov Landau, whose experiences were captured in Leon Uris’ film “Exodus.“ It didn’t escape our awareness that we were among the last groups who would have the opportunity to hear the first-hand experience of a witness to the atrocities that took place on that blood-soaked earth… Together, we visited concentration camps and ghettos, as well as some the last remaining synagogues in Poland that reminded us of what was destroyed and may never be rebuilt due to the dwindling Jewish population there.
After returning from that trip, I felt, for the first time, a deep connection to the Jewish people and a burning desire to look further into my Jewish identity. It was there that I got a taste of the history and a realization that I am a continuation of those who were almost exterminated. I could no longer ignore the void of knowledge or my disconnect from Judaism.
When I began to do the soul-searching that the college experience often arouses, I wanted to find what was the next step in that process. Sitting at home and reading books wasn’t going to do enough, especially since I am a visual learner. Naturally, the first thing that came to mind was Birthright. While deciding on whether or not I should go on Birthright, another opportunity presented itself that I could not pass up: with Onward-IsraeLinks which would allow me to stay in Israel for an additional 8 weeks, go places we didn’t have time to see on Birthright, study Torah in the morning and have time to explore Israel and its culture on my own.
As a photographer, travelling has always piqued my interest so being able to enjoy Israel with some level of independence was really enticing. It was also great to see that I could combine the adventures with an internship that was aligned with my academic and professional goals which I know really is an asset in pursuing any career. After speaking to friends, family, professors and advisors it was clear to me that I couldn’t pass this up.
When searching for Internship, I was provided with a list of several different companies I could work for. It wasn’t until I came across the Israel Forever Foundation that I felt a pull to the organization and I knew I wanted to work there, to learn from the people more about Israel. Working at Israel Forever seemed a great way to achieve that. After speaking with the Executive Director Elana Heideman and hearing the passion that she had for the organization and the great State of Israel, I knew this was the place I wanted to be. I was so drawn in, I found myself visiting the website sometimes even a few times a day and really felt that the Israel Forever Foundation would not only give me the professional skills to enter the workforce but also allow me to expand upon my knowledge of Israel and my Jewish identity.
I can’t lie and say I was all in even after I was signed up – I was still hesitant to come to Israel because of everything I was seeing in the news. I made my way to the airport still anxious but excited nonetheless. Whatever lay ahead, this was a part of my destiny and once I was on the ground, I no longer felt the fear that I felt back in the States.
Was it the distance? Was it the news? Was it the negative way that I kept hearing about others talk about Israel? Was it the constant need to have to “defend” Israel that pushed me further away? I don’t know exactly what, but the difference was clear – so clear that I am now even more inspired and driven to help others understand why this place matters. Because it DOES. It MUST. When we have a better understanding of who we are and what we belong to, every Jew – no matter how disconnected or disillusioned – can find a better part of themselves by exploring both the religion of Judaism and the amazing beauty and meaning of a Jewish State.
Perhaps not everyone will find themselves in Israel. This is another reason why I am pleased to be part of Israel Forever and the efforts to bring Israel to Jews, wherever they are and help them find their own way to connect and enjoy everything Israel has to offer!
I am all in. What about you?”