by Matt Hoffman, Program Coordinator, Israel Campus Roundtable
Almost all of us know someone who's participated on Birthright Israel. Floating in the Dead Sea, hiking Masada, exploring Jerusalem's vibrancy—we know the drill. But how many of the young people we know have returned to the Jewish homeland for a professional internship?
Luckily, CJP expounds on the Birthright experience with the largest Onward Israel professional internship program, in partnership with the Jewish Agency for Israel and Israel Experience Ltd. This summer, 100 students from the Boston area—many of whom attend schools such as Harvard, BU, and UMass —are getting the chance of a lifetime.
Internships in the field of their choice are provided four days a week, based out of Jerusalem and Haifa. Employers include prestigious institutions such as Hadassah Hospital, Open House LGBT center and the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, providing top-notch experience.
As the students attest, there is no such thing as interns "just getting coffee" in Israel—they are tasked with important projects! Eric Moyal, Brandeis University ’17, has been analyzing attendance data for the Maccabi Haifa basketball team and figuring out how to get more fans in the stands; while Max Friend, Williams College ’17, has been wearing many hats at TerraLab ventures, a venture capital firm, where he’s been using his photography and videography skills to increase the company’s marketing presence.
The fifth day of the work week is devoted to educational immersive trips across the country. One recent tiyul brought the participants to northern Israel, where they gained expert analysis while overlooking the Syrian border. Other tiyulim include visits to desert communities, hard-hit from Hamas rocket attacks, and a joint Jewish-Arab community building project in the West Bank.
Students live together in apartment-style dormitories, where they’re responsible for many aspects of independent living—including buying groceries with a provided stipend card. (Which is also a great chance for them to learn and practice Hebrew!) Each apartment suite houses four interns, who become fast friends. Often, the aforementioned grocery shopping is completed as a group, where suitemates go on to cook meals together. And through living together and becoming friends, each student hears about the other interns’ experience and learns more about Israeli companies beyond the one they’re working with.
This is the fourth summer of the Boston Onward Israel program. The first summer’s program provided internships to 40 students—growing to 100 just three years later. Past alumni have gone on to become leaders in their local Jewish community, including with the Get Back to Israel Rep program, which pairs alumni with unaffiliated students to promote the benefits of an international internship. One Brown University alumna created the Jews of Brown blog, highlighting the vibrant and diverse Jewish life present at her Ivy League school.
If you know a student who would be interested in the Boston Onward Israel 2016 program, please have them fill out our interest form. And for those who have yet to visit Israel as a college student? Boston-based Birthright Israel trips will be going strong this winter -- sign up for details today!