Detroiters in Israel: Our Onward Israel Experience

By Benny Fellows

During the back half of a sophomore year filled with virtual lectures and blue light glasses, I started my morning just as any other: a quick shower, a breakfast burrito, and an email perusal right before my first zoom class. As I prepared myself for another morning filled with online redundancy, the subject line “Intern in Israel this summer!” grabbed my attention. I immediately sent in my application to Onward Israel while memories of the 2018 Teen Mission trip flooded my mind.

From the moment we arrived in Israel, the Detroit onward group started to click, and each and every one of us immersed ourselves in Tel Aviv culture. Josh Sherman says, “I really had a great experience living the typical daily life of an Israeli. Seeing how the work environment compares to that in the US was an eye opener that really stood out for me. These were two of the best months of my life and I feel I learned a lot about the culture and lifestyle that is impossible to emulate without living there for an extended period of time.”

Many weekends of the summer, I was able to travel outside of Tel Aviv to areas such as Eilat, Jerusalem, Be’er Sheva, and more. Rebecca Einstandig touches on her travels saying, “The opportunities we had to spend time in Jerusalem were meaningful, as it allowed me to feel a more spiritual connection to my Jewish identity. Whether it was spending time at the Western Wall, or getting a feel for nightlife at the Shuk, my time in Jerusalem provided me with a sense of comfort and happiness that I will always remember.”

Of course, the Onward Israel experience couldn’t happen without our internships, which for many of us, were our first look into a full time job. Whether we were working in high tech, research, marketing, and more, our internships allowed us to narrow our interests and explore new skills. Pelli Mechnikov says, “My internship took [the experience] to another level. I got the opportunity to work in a daycare for adults with disabilities. It has completely changed the way I look at people and at life, and has made me re-examine what I want to do when I graduate!”  Liza Kay adds, “Onward was a summer I will remember forever! My internship was helping a personal trainer grow her business as well as her social media accounts.” 

Towards the end of the summer, as sad as we were to leave Tel Aviv and the amazing people we met through our internships and the Onward community, we were grateful for all of the lessons learned and memories we’ll have going forward. Will Eisenberg says it best, “Living and working in Israel was truly an unbelievable experience. Being able to immerse yourself in the Israeli work and lifestyle culture was an opportunity of a lifetime.”

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