Onward Israel Start-up Intern in Jerusalem


“Onward Israel” (OI), a program that is a partnership between the Shapira Family Foundation and the Jewish Agency for Israel, offers six-week Israel-based work internships to Diaspora young adults. The custom-developed internships – based on each participant’s studies and career interests – offer an opportunity to reside communally in apartments in Israel with other OI participants. Participants experience the rhythms and lifestyles of Israelis through the internship’s exposure to an Israeli work environment and to the extra-curricular cultural programming and volunteering opportunities offered as part of the program.

Because most OI programs are scheduled for the summer (when college students have the most flexibility to participate), the Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) worked with OI on a variation for counselors who return to work in their camps during the summer. OI “Start-Up Intern” for camp counselors offers a five-week intensive internship and Jewish identity formation program from early-May to mid-June. The camp variation was tested for a second time during summer 2015 with 40 participants from seven US and six Canadian camps. It largely achieved its goals to (1) provide an informative and exciting learning experience while living in Israel; (2) allowed the participants to return to work in camp and earn money instead of possibly taking a US-based internship; and (3) deepened their understanding of what life is like in Israel in ways that cannot be provided during shorter programs, and encouraged them to speak to their peers and campers about the experience. The participants also had the opportunity to meet with the incoming Israel staff delegation and to return to camp as advocates for the experience.

The participants demonstrated considerable enthusiasm for the program, and AVI CHAI hopes to expand it to more camps for summer 2016 and beyond.

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