Jewish Federation Offers a New Highly Subsidized Israel Experience for Young Adults

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For the first time, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia will sponsor a group of young adults to participate in Onward Israel’s Theme-Based Experience, an eight-week summer internship program in Israel for adults ages 19 to 27. The opportunity is heavily subsidized and aimed at those who have been to Israel once before on Birthright Israel or another short-term Israel experience. The new program — called Philadelphia Onward Experience — runs this June through August and offers:

  • A choice of projects in 10 fields of interest including green energy; government and politics; arts and culture; entrepreneurship and innovation; and more.
  • An immersive Israel experience
  • Orientation, reflection and the opportunity to create lasting local friendships.
  • Room and board, a modest food stipend, insurance and transportation within Israel.

“This is a chance for a young potential leader to dive deeply into Israeli life and culture while also accumulating professionally relevant experience,” said Barbara Hirsh, the Jewish Federation’s director of Jewish life and learning. “It allows them to explore their relationship to Israel for themselves with no preconceived outcome.”

Jewish students and residents in Greater Philadelphia can apply for one of the theme-based programs located in different cities throughout Israel. Each theme-based program places participants with other like-minded individuals, creating a unique opportunity to network and engage with peers with similar interests from around the world.


“This is also an opportunity for the Jewish Federation to build relationships with future leaders,” said Hirsh. “Our focus will be on recruiting interns who are from Greater Philadelphia or who attend school locally to involve people who have the highest likelihood of remaining in Greater Philadelphia long-term. We want to facilitate a feeling of connection to Jews and Jewish life in Philadelphia.”

Hirsh noted this also will be accomplished through formal pre- and post-travel sessions, as well as ongoing contact with Talia Lidar, the Jewish Federation’s representative in Israel; a Shabbaton and volunteering in one of the Jewish Federation’s Partnership2Gether communities in Israel, Netivot or Sedot Negev; a post-internship agreement to make two presentations; and ongoing communication and programming with other alumni.

The cost to participate is $300 to $500 depending upon the specific theme-based experience. Participants are responsible for arranging and paying for their flights to and from Israel. Philadelphia Onward Experience interns will be eligible to receive an additional $100 scholarship, contingent upon full participation in all components of the program.

“A feeling of connection to Israel is not something we can take for granted among younger Jews,” concluded Hirsh. “Such a connection has to be inspired and cultivated. Onward Israel is a great resource for this purpose by connecting local college students and recent graduates with Israeli life, based on their own interests. It allows participants to experience Israel on their own terms, while providing a group within which to reflect and ask questions.”

Onward Israel Theme-Based programs and the Philadelphia Onward Experience are operated through a partnership between the Beacon and Shapira Foundations and other lead philanthropists, Masa Israel Journey and the Jewish Federation.

For program details and registration, visit onwardisrael.org/philly. For additional information, contact Rebecca Zuck at rebeccaz@onwardisrael.org.

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