Onward Israel, a follow-up experience to Birthright Israel and other peer-trips to Israel, provides students with an immersive, transformative experience in Israel to both deepen their connection to Israel and to enrich the continued development of their Jewish identity. Onward places students in tailor-made internships based on their personal and professional interests. The 8-10 week internship is complemented with a robust schedule of weekly educational activities that include professional development sessions, day trips throughout the country, and various lectures about the nuanced and multi-dimensional aspects of Israel. Learn more about Onward Israel at onwardisrael.com.
The Hillel International Internship program of Onward Israel is based in Jerusalem for the summer and includes thirty-eight students from Hillels across North America. In this series we highlight the experiences and personal reflections of student participants from the Hillels at the University of Central Florida, Ohio State University, George Washington University, and Penn State University.
Onward Israel is a program made possible through the support of leading philanthropists and is implemented by the Jewish Agency for Israel.
I’ve been planning my summer in Israel since October.
More than 5,000 miles away from Jerusalem, in a small lecture hall at Penn State, I had the realization I needed to spend my summer reporting abroad.
I had this realization in my comparative literature class, which focused on human rights issues in world literature. A prevalent theme while reading and watching works such as Animal’s People, Country of my Skull and Waltz with Bashir was the role and responsibility of international media in its portrayal of events around the world.
After watching Waltz with Bashir and a presentation given on the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as a self-proclaimed lover of history and politics, I found myself surprised at how little I actually knew. I deemed this lack of knowledge to be unacceptable, especially as a Jewish American and aspiring political journalist.
As a student-journalist reporting in central Pennsylvania (which is lovingly referred to as the Happy Valley) I didn’t have experience reporting on serious events that have a large scale impact across the globe. I decided the only way to actually grasp what was happening on the other side of the world was to go and find out for myself.
I wanted to learn, I wanted to travel, and most importantly, I wanted to write.
I had at one point briefly considered spending a summer in Israel. But ultimately even I was surprised with my decision to trade the comfort of summers spent on Long Island for two months interning in a country I’d never been to. At first the thought of living halfway around the world terrified me, but the opportunity to write for The Jerusalem Post, an internationally read newspaper, was one I could not pass up.
With several days in Jerusalem, and my first day at the Post under my belt, I can confidently say my summer with Onward Israel will increase my knowledge of Israel and the nature of international media.
My name is Robby Ost, and I am a sophomore at Penn State, majoring in Environmental Science. I am working for Greeneye this summer. Greeneye, a small Israeli environmental consulting firm, provides consultancy and advice to allow investors and government institutions to make sustainable decisions. Greeneye maintains a strong partnership with a global environmental, social, and governance research firm called Eiris, and has a vast network throughout the world.
Currently, Greeneye is working on many projects, including an initiative to bring federal incentives for commercial retrofitting to Israel. Retrofitting, the act of renovating existing buildings to become more environmentally friendly, has become increasingly important as humanity strives to limit carbon emissions and further detrimental impacts to the environment. My job is primarily research-based; I’ve spent a good chunk of the summer exploring examples of successful government incentives (particularly financial, including tax deductions, loans, and grants) throughout the greenest countries of the world, including the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Australia. A few weeks ago, the Greeneye team presented our case to the Israeli government and explained why they should implement certain economic incentives that can make Israel a worldwide leader in environmental awareness and green building.
On the side, I’ve also had the opportunity to get involved with some of the company’s marketing work. I was tasked with redesigning Greeneye’s website and logos, and I had a great time working to rebrand the company! Check out Greeneye's brand new website at www.greeneye.co.il!
This summer has been amazing so far, and I look forward to making the most out of my last few weeks here in Israel!