Onward Israel: Week One

By Gabrielle Peck

Gabrielle Peck is a rising junior at Northwestern University studying neuroscience and global health, and a proud member of the Sycamore High School Class of 2014. Gabrielle is currently participating in the Onward Israel program and, thanks to grants from Cincy Journeys and The Jewish Agency for Israel, will spend the next two months working as an intern at a geriatric hospital, Ateret Rimonim, located in an ultra-orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Tel Aviv.

One week ago, 14 excited Cincinnatians boarded a plane headed to our new home for the next two months: Tel Aviv, Israel. While we were elated about the idea of fully embracing Israeli culture, living like a local, and working in a country much different from our own, many of us had our worries. Will our Hebrew, or lack thereof, be enough? Will we have the “chutzpah” to fit in with the rather outspoken Israelis? How will we cook, clean, do laundry, and grocery shop (thousands of miles away from our parents) for the next two months? 

Our journey began in the religiously salient, microcosmic, and simply beautiful city of Jerusalem. During orientation, Onward Israel elucidated the objectives of our program and our time spent working and living in Tel Aviv. Onward Israel provides the opportunity for American young adults to travel to Israel, interact with local culture and life, and strengthen our ties to the country and our Jewish identity. We also met our wonderful Madricha (Youth Counselor), Leon, and our Internship Coordinator, Zoey, who will be helping us throughout our time in Israel.

On Thursday, after orientation, we moved into our apartments in North Diezengoff. We are currently learning the art of using a water boiler for our showers, understanding how toaster ovens and drying racks are used in place of regular ovens and drying machines, and how to share one kitchen with eight other “flat” mates. Of course, this is all part of the fun and experience. In just these few short days, we have come to love our new neighborhood. Our two apartments are located in the center of many shops, cafés, restaurants, gyms, and most importantly, a five-minute walk from the beach.

We had the pleasure of spending our first Shabbat meal watching the sunset on the beach with the Israeli representative for the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati and other Cincinnatians who made Aliyah. We spent the remainder of the weekend living as beach bums, drinking ice coffees, and eating falafel, until we remembered that Sunday is the new Monday in Tel Aviv, and it was time to start our internships

Our Onward cohort has individuals working at a myriad of different internships, including tech start-ups, urban planning companies, design and marketing firms, hospitals, and non-profits. Yesterday, we navigated the bus system (only a few of us got lost thanks to the app MoveIt) and overall had a successful first day at our internships. We are looking forward to settling into our positions and continuing to explore this wonderful country. Look out for an update next week! 


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