May 17, 2024
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From Bagels to Bourekas: Top Tri-State Students Intern With JLIC Summer Programs

(Courtesy of OU-JLIC) Tova Solomons may have only wrapped up high school less than two months ago, but speaking with the recent Ramaz graduate about the Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus’s Summer Programs gives the distinct impression of conversing with a seasoned professional. Her sophistication, focus and drive belie her 18 years.

“I intern for an organization called Tsad Kadima, which focuses on providing assistance to people with complex physical disabilities, specifically cerebral palsy,” said the Upper West Sider. “I am working with the head of resource development in marketing and fundraising. I’m writing grant proposals and screening different organizations for possible donor prospects.”

Solomons is a participant of JLIC’s Ascend program, in partnership with Onward Israel. It is one of the five different opportunities JLIC offers for post-high school and college students to live, learn and work in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. All five programs feature professional internship placement, religious community, trips and Torah study.

“JLIC is the only Orthodox internship program available to college students in Israel, which allows a student to advance their career aspirations by doing a meaningful internship at cutting-edge companies in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem while simultaneously having three or four beit midrash nights, plus shabbatonim and tiyulim over the course of eight weeks,” said Rabbi Pinny Rosenthal, JLIC’s national development director and veteran educator. “This fosters a realistic exploration into living as an Israeli and opens up the opportunity to consider if aliyah would be a fitting option for the students.”

Now in its 10th year, Summer in Jerusalem saw top-tier students competing for coveted spots across its five programs.The limited spaces were sold out three weeks after the application process began.

Grateful to JLIC’s internship placement coordinator for catering to her individual interests and helping her gain invaluable experience, Solomons said: “Working in fundraising has given me transferable skills for my professional development. It’s made me think of different business ideas and creative branding. I’ve learned that I’m selling a vision.”

The best part of working in Jerusalem for this Manhattanite? “I get lunch from the shuk. So that’s really cool, because I’ve been sampling all the different restaurants. I had shakshuka for the first time a few days ago!”

Beit Midrash

The Beit Midrash component of JLIC’s Summer Programs has made an equally profound impression on participants.

Gaby Rahmanfar, 21, a graduate of Central High School and currently entering her senior year at Stern College, loved the learning she experienced last summer with JLIC so much so that she decided to return this year with SIJW (Summer in Jerusalem for Women) @Nishmat.

“JLIC’s summer program last year was the first time since seminary that I was able to get the experience of an all-women’s beit midrash, in an advanced learning environment,” Rahmanfar said. “This year I wanted to come back so badly because I didn’t know if that opportunity would present itself again.

“As a woman, it’s not a given that you’ll have access to an intensive learning environment. You don’t get seminary every year. Learning at Nishmat in partnership with JLIC is a way for me to continue that kesher to a women’s learning environment.”

Diversity and Friendships

A participant of SIJ@Harova, JLIC’s coed summer program, Isabel Goldberg of NYU is drawn to the diversity of attendees. “There was a broad range of religious male and female students from colleges across North America, all looking for the same thing as me.”

Eric Kalimi, a Ramaz graduate entering his sophomore year at Harvard, appreciates the program’s social aspect. “The close-knit vibe and warmth helped me make the best friends.”

Summing it up best is perhaps JLIC’s Chief Operating Officer Tal Attia, when she said: “We see students walk away from the Summer in Jerusalem with warm friendships, a stronger Jewish identity, career connections, and a deeper love for Israel. I honestly can’t think of a better way to spend the summer.”


JLIC Summer Programs partner with TVA/Bnei Akiva of the U.S. and Canada, Midreshet Harova, Nishmat, Birthright Israel’s Onward Israel, and JNF-USA. For more info visit oujlic.org

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