Onward Summer 2023 Closing Thoughts

Date: 08-09-2023 | Category: Blog,For Students | Reading Time: 5 Minutes

It’s now the first week of August and I am back in my home in the great n’ wonderful United States of America. I simultaneously feel that I was just in Israel for one short week and one long year. Reflecting on the summer I just had, it was an amazing experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world. I worked a quality internship in my dream industry, I met wonderful people that I consider real friends, I visited places I wouldn’t have normally had the chance to visit, and I made the decision to move to Israel for the foreseeable future to continue to foster my career and relationships; two months ago, I would have told you there was no chance that I’d ever move to Israel. For me, there is something uniquely special about Israel that the articles I’ve penned can’t properly convey. It’s far from a perfect nation, but it has a certain something that you have to experience to fully comprehend.

To perhaps provide a more of a well rounded conclusion to this summer’s Onward program, I simply asked the other participants to share what they felt was meaningful to them coming away from the program. They had the following to say…

Oliver Cohen: “One of my biggest takeaways would be getting to understand Israeli culture as well as expanding my network of Jewish friends.”

Roy Riezman: “It was fun to get to live in a city and speak my first language with everyone again. Seeing my friends and family was also a big plus. Additionally, it was really nice to work at a place that I am considering working at in the future after I graduate university.”

Calvin Miles: “‘Me like Israel’. It was nice to return to Israel for a consecutive year after participating in Birthright last year. One thing I am taking away is some valuable work experience as well as invaluable memories I made with my friends over the past two months.”

Zoe Nourie: “I feel like I’ve grown a lot as a person since I was forced to navigate a new place with so many cultural differences that pushed me out of my comfort zone. I feel more comfortable with myself now that I’ve done it. I’ve also gained some new perspectives from my co-workers and Israeli friends regarding life, since they had such a diverse world view. The co-ed apartments were also welcome because it enabled us to interact and mingle with people we wouldn’t normally interact with. The work was really nice since I was able to learn to take initiative on projects and work where I normally wouldn’t have in the past.”

Stacy Lawrence: “I really enjoyed seeing the work experience and life of a totally different culture, then being able to compare it to the US. It’s given me a lot of experience that I can hopefully take back with me to the US and apply to my future!”

Emily Frankel: “I thought it was really interesting to get a first person view of the complex political situation happening here in Israel. It was really great to get to be in it and see it in person to really better understand it.”

Aleeza Schneider: “Now with having the experience of working in Israel, traveling, and living on my own, I feel I grew as a person and developed independence. It was nice to learn and understand who I am in a different culture as well as who I am under the pressure of living in a different culture from my own.”

Abby Zolla: “I had a really great time at my internship. I felt I connected deeply with the kids I was working with and it really impacted my view on the types of therapy we implement in the US. I felt I was really independent and got to experience a totally new culture in a way that changed me forever. I made some extremely deep friendships that I’ll always have as well as delved into the politics here that will change my worldview going forward. I feel now I am equipped to have real conversations about the Israel and Palestine conflict now. I really feel I came away with a stronger connection to Jewish community and my Jewish identity. I have nothing but positive feelings towards Israel and it was the most meaningful summer of my life.”

Ryann Boss: “The most impactful thing for me was my internship. Shoutout to Chaya! She paired me with the perfect internship that I will be forever grateful for. I was able to deeply connect with the work I was doing and with my co-workers. It’s really lovely to know that I now have friends in Israel. I also love that I’ve expanded my knowledge pertaining to my career.”

Drew Berke: “My biggest takeaway was the people I met on this trip and the friendships that I’ll always have and can take with me to the US.”

Alex Richards: “I feel the friendships I made were for sure the best. I really appreciated the independence the program provided me.”

If any of these testimonies resonated with you and you are Jewish, I highly encourage looking into participating in the next available Onward program! Regardless of where you are in life, I feel you will take away something meaningful from the experience.

Food Corner:

I figured it was only appropriate for one of my last meals before departing for the USA to be a hearty American style breakfast. To accomplish this, I went to Benedict in the Sarona market, a stylish breakfast restaurant serving a wide array of different classic breakfasts including American, British, and Israeli styles, as well as a handful more. Naturally, I got three thick pancakes with cheese and bacon sandwiched between them and topped with an egg, more bacon, some onions, and some chives. The pancakes came with a side of Israeli salad and I paired it with a beautifully prepared cappuccino. The pancakes were light, fluffy, and sweet which contrasted nicely with the saltiness of the bacon and eggs. It was fairly heavy which made the light and fresh taste of the salad a nice break in flavor.