American Jewish youth between 19 and 27 years old from northern New Jersey will be participating for the first time in the “Onward Israel” program, which offers summer internships at companies in Tel Aviv as well as immersion in Israeli life, the Jewish Standard said.
“Onward Israel” lets participants choose from hundreds of possible two-month internships, working with companies in fields as diverse as finance, music, fashion, and hi-tech, the report said.
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At the same time, the program will take care of the nitty-gritty of living in the country, providing dormitory accommodations, organized trips around the country, and even Hebrew classes, according to the Standard.
“It was absolutely fantastic, ” said Joshua Blumberg, a University of Michigan student who went on the program last summer. “The trip was amazing. The group was amazing. My internship was incredible.”
“Onward Israel will provide an extraordinary opportunity for 20 young men and women just setting out on their careers, ” said Jayne Petack, incoming president of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey. “What could be better than interning in Tel Aviv, one of the top business centers in the world?”
The Jewish Agency for Israel launched Onward Israel four years ago as a middle ground between the short-term “Birthright Israel” trips and the long-term “Masa” programs that last the better part of a year. This summer will be the first time the federation is bringing the program to area residents and their children, the Standard said.
The federation began considering applications for its 20 available slots last week. Participants will pay $500 and provide their own round-trip transportation to Israel; in Israel, they will be provided with food and board. The fee reflects a significant subsidy from the federation as well as from the Jewish Agency, the report said.
“This is another high-quality program that will help build Jewish identity and connect young people to Israel and the world of being Jewish today, ” said Jason Shames, the federation’s CEO. “We need to continue to invest heavily in the youth and, in particular, in college and post-college [students] to help connect them.”
The internships are scheduled for four days a week, with a fifth devoted to educational seminars. But weekends — Friday and Saturday, as weekends run in Israel — are free, said the report.
Mr. Blumberg, who interned for a software company, said the experience gave him “a bit of an edge. It has been a really great benefit for me and certainly helped me in my studies.”
“Everything is more laid back. The dress code is not as strict. I didn’t have to wear business formal attire to work. Nice jeans and a button-down shirt were perfectly acceptable. It made for a more encouraging environment.”
Ora Niknamfard graduated from New York University last May, and now works for a software company. She said her internship in Tel Aviv with Onward Israel was “absolutely” useful. The perspective she brought from her time with a Tel Aviv startup proved exciting to the New York company that hired her, the Standard said.