Laurel D. – Cleveland, Summer 2021
The experiences I have had the past couple of weeks have been incredible. From the first day I arrived in Tel Aviv, I knew I would be having the best summer of my life! Onward Israel had been so much more than just an internship opportunity. Onward Israel has granted me the privilege of truly getting to know Israel. I have met and bonded with local Israelis. I have shared meals with a Holocaust survivor who shared with me his amazing, yet heart-breaking stories. I have worked side-by-side with Bar-Ilan students and professors. I have explored the cities of Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Jerusalem, Beit Shean, Ashkelon, and Herzliya. I have also made amazing connections and friends with my fellow Cleveland Onward Israel members.
For me, the most meaningful part of being in Israel has been learning who I am, where I come from, and why this beautiful country is crucial to my life. Growing up, my family was not very religious. I knew I was Jewish, however, I did not truly know what it meant to be a Jew. After being in Israel for only a couple of weeks, I am starting to understand why being Jewish holds so much value.
Everyone on this program has their own stories of what it means to them to be Jewish and what Israel means to them. One of my peers mentioned that she feels safe and at home in this country because she knows she is surrounded by her people. These words resonated with me, because as I look around, I know Israel will always be a second home for me.
Thank you Onward Israel for offering so many people like myself this wonderful opportunity.