By: Jeff Seidel
Since 1999, the educational program bringing young Jews (18-26) from all over the world to discover their heritage and homeland is the well-known Taglit-Birthright. A free 10-day tour of the Jewish state, the student participants either went on to please their parents and grandparents or bragged about to their friends. Today, Taglit-Birthright is just the tip of the iceberg for the adventure that awaits Diaspora Jewry from all over the world in the State of Israel.
Young Jews be proud, once you get past the 10-day tour of the country’s popular destination locations, their next trip can be a professional internship in their academic field, studying abroad, personal growth and learning about their Judaism at yeshiva, or even an amazing experience out of their comfort zone. These possibilities are not one or the other either, they can be the focal point of your next several trips! The State of Israel is the innovation nation and has it all. In the field of business, Tel Aviv is the start-up capital (but watch out of Jerusalem). For politics, the region is always changing but viewing it from Golan Heights is a little too close for comfort when one can intern with a think tank or in the Knesset itself. In the biomedical realm, the country is your oyster. One can pursue cancer research in Beersheva, pharmaceuticals in Herzliya, or even cyber-security, engineering, and computer science in Haifa.
As diverse and well-known as Israel is in these very important realms, the programs are always open due to the endless opportunities Israel offers. For the always popular professional internship, Onward Israel has become very popular and offer a plethora of possibilities. Onward Israel offers internships based on where you want to be location-wise, if you would prefer to be with people from your area, and on the amount of time one wants to be in Israel. Onward themselves say it best: “When you grow, so do your opportunities. Global experience gives you that extra competitive edge. Our programs take you Onward – personally and professionally – and allow you an authentic taste of modern day Israel while gaining experience and knowledge through an internship opportunity.” These type of organizations have been very successful in offering a multitude of programs. Jinternship, Career Israel, and Masa are just a few examples. Most of these work with each other and have good connections with many Israeli organizations in order to find you the best experience. Jinternship has become very well-known and is determined to help Jewish students from all over the world gain an edge in their career path. Though, they are not just committed to helping you find a meaningful internship, but to also assist in making meaningful friends who have a shared heritage and incorporating aspects of Judaism. Just like with Birthright, these friends and memories will last a lifetime.
Looking for a study abroad/vacation location to post about on Facebook and Instagram? Don’t overlook Israel’s amazing study abroad programs, where anyone can find anything they are looking for. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Rothberg International School is highly-ranked and offers many great opportunities in the heart of Jerusalem. From the humanities to the natural sciences, Hebrew University has it all in the most sacred city to the Jewish People. For the beach scene, look into Tel Aviv University. Located in the popular Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv’s premier club scene, TAU is also well-ranked and offers a diversity of courses.
In the Jewish state, there is always much to learn about Judaism. One way young Jewish adults are able to learn and experience their heritage is through yeshiva. A cursor to personal growth and intellectual maturity, yeshivas focus on religious texts to help their students understand their daily lives as well as the current events around them. Popular organizations for yeshiva study are Aish HaTorah, Mayanot, Ohr Somayach, and Olami. For example, Aish HaTorah, overlooking the Western Wall, has a 3-week program on Judaism and the Middle East called Aish Essentials. Aish Essentials is designed to help Jewish student start from a common level of learning and eventually advance to more in-depth classes. All the yeshiva classes offered by these programs are taught in English, but when living in the Old City of Jerusalem, get ready to learn some Hebrew as well.
Taglit-Birthright is an incredible journey and the trip of a lifetime, but the adventure does not have to stop there. Their next trip can be a professional internship in their academic field, studying abroad, personal growth and learning about their Judaism at yeshiva, or an amazing experience out of their comfort zone. While getting out of one’s comfort zone is objective, there is no better place to do it than in Israel. If traveling to a foreign country, gaining experience in your field on another continent, or studying at yeshiva does not peak your interest, there is much more Israel has to offer. Winter and Summer Birthright trips will always need more tour guides and recruiters, the adventure will truly never end.
For more information, check out Jeff Seidel’s Jewish Student Center website