Three Wyoming High School graduates are spending this summer as interns in Israel. They are part of a group of fourteen college students from across the greater Cincinnati area taking part in Onward Israel, a program that places Jewish students in internships in their chosen fields of study in Tel Aviv. Funding for Onward Israel is made possible through a post-high-school Israel travel grants program funded by The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati and administered by Cincy Journeys at the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati. Through the Cincy Journeys program, and with additional funding from the Jewish Agency for Israel, Cincinnati Onward Israel interns are in the unique position of participating in this incredible experience for free.
So what’s it like to intern in Israel? Let’s ask them!
My name is Benny Friedman, and I’m a proud Wyoming High School Alumni who is a rising junior at Ohio State University. We’ve been in Israel for about two weeks now, and I am definitely having a fun, worthwhile experience. Our Onward group lives in Old North Tel Aviv, a nice, walkable, compact, easy-to-get-around area. Excitingly, Papa Johns, Dominoes, and Pizza Hut are all located close by! There are also tons of other cool restaurants, shops, and bars close by, in addition to a ten-minute walk to the beautiful Mediterranean where I am hard at work reducing my extreme paleness.
I am interning at Movement for Israeli Urbanism, a nonprofit urban planning consulting group/think tank. I’m really interested in the field, and I am learning a lot. The internship element of Onward Israel really separates the trip from any other travel experience I’ve had, and allows us to develop a routine and begin to feel at home here in Israel. In fact, the time when I feel most at home here is when I’m commuting to work, and impatiently waiting for the bus to arrive along with all the other Israelis. I truly feel like one of the crowd when someone engages me in a conversation in Hebrew thinking I’m a local - even though I’m definitely the palest one here. I typically respond with “Ma?” (meaning “What?”), listen when they repeat - hoping to understand - and then usually ask them to switch to English.
Overall, I’ve definitely been enjoying Onward so far - it’s a great mix of working at an internship, touring the country one day a week, and having weekends off to explore and experience Israel ourselves. I look forward to seeing what the rest of the trip has in store.
My name is Blair Tieger, and in the fall, I will be starting my junior year at the University of California, Los Angeles. I’m also a proud graduate of Wyoming High School. I am majoring in psychology and minoring in classics, but am currently learning more about business and marketing in my job here in Tel Aviv.
I am interning for a startup called Memontage, a digital commemorative platform. It allows users to upload any type of memory - photos, videos, quotes, etc. - of a person who has passed away. It combines all of these memories in the style of a scrapbook. Anyone who knew the person can contribute. I work with the founder, Tovit Neizer. I help to find potential clients and then reach out to them. I also help to improve the website, which will officially launch in August. It is such a great opportunity to experience working at a startup based on such an innovative idea.
Meanwhile, I am exploring Tel Aviv with my fellow Onward interns. Onward Israel has given us the chance to live in an exciting part of the city - near shops, restaurants, and the beach. We also get to explore during day trips. So far, we have gone to Jerusalem and Jaffa. I’m so excited to continue to explore for the next six weeks!
My name is Ben Fershtman, and I’m a Wyoming High Alumni and a rising junior at Ohio State University. Because I’m an industrial and systems engineering major with an entrepreneurship minor, Tel Aviv happened to be one of the best possible places to search for an internship. During my two months in Israel I will be working in one of the best possible areas given my interests. As an intern at Snapp, a mobile-first application development platform that aims to revolutionize the rapidly growing mobile market of developing countries, I have the freedom to develop any skills that I deem worthy, all with the guidance of very successful veterans.
As a company, Snapp is less than a year old. The work to be done ranges dramatically and the team works to maintain its heavy growth. I not only have been able to see exactly how a company starts and grows from the bottom, but I have also been able to contribute to everything from research and data analysis to innovation and strategic implementation of new features. While researching optimal markets for Snapp to target next, I have learned an unimaginable amount about markets in which I may someday aim to launch my own venture. One of the most inspirational and catalytic ideas of Snapp is their humanitarian goal of helping billions of people living in third world countries improve their businesses (and lives) by marketing and selling their products/services online through an app.
This is my third trip to Israel, and so far, it has been just as amazing as the first two. Living on my own and seeing firsthand how society functions in Tel Aviv has been one of the most eye-opening and influential experiences of my life and one that everyone should take advantage of if given the opportunity. From the food, to the inclusiveness of the community, to the historical presence that can be felt anywhere you travel in Israel, this truly is a one-of-a-kind place in an infinite number of ways.