Herzl Camp Partners For Israeli Internships

In a booming economy, our college-age staff have many exciting opportunities that compete with a summer at camp. While we know the value of the hands-on management and leadership skills that a camp counselor job provides, it is hard to compare with glamorous and often well-paid corporate experiences that are frequently now designed as recruiting tools with a clear path to that first professional job after college. An exciting new partnership is addressing those competing options: Onward Israel, a corporate/camp internship option in Israel. Last summer, AJ Yablonsky and Sam Gittleman, two long-time Herzl campers and now staff members, were the first Herzl staff to try the program. Here they share how Herzl helped them obtain summer internships in Israel, enabling them to return to camp: 

“After working together as Kadimah staff in 2017, we both knew that our time at Herzl wasn’t finished. But with so much pressure on college students to get summer internships in order to attend graduate school or get a job after graduation, we weren’t sure if we would be able to come back to camp. The frustrating reality is that even though we — the larger Herzl community — recognize how beneficial working at camp can be, that message isn’t always received by people outside of the camp world. 

“After communicating this message to Herzl, we were excited to learn that they had found a solution: a program called Onward Israel. This program recruits top camp counselors from around the country and connects them with internships in Israel. We both had the opportunity to intern with a Member of the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) for five weeks directly following finals and right before camp.

“During our internship, we gained valuable experience in a professional work environment by participating in high-level government activities. We wrote letters to Ambassadors and Members of Congress (and the Pope!), attended briefings with State Department officials, and helped craft policies by researching topics relevant to our Member of Knesset. In addition to this incredible internship, we also gained new perspectives on Israel as a part of this program. We lived, for the most part, independently—no counselors or group leaders waking us up or telling us where to be. We experienced Israel as Israelis do: taking public transportation, shopping before Shabbat in the Jerusalem Shuk (market), and travelling to Tel Aviv to explore on the weekends.

“Because Herzl invests in its staff—not only as staff members, but as members of the Jewish community—we were able to experience a life-changing internship in Israel and come back to camp, ready to give it our all for Summer 2018.” 


In an exciting development, AJ reports that he has secured an internship in Hillary Clinton’s office this fall! “I wouldn’t have been able to get that without Onward, so thank you to the Herzl Team for making that happen. I’m so grateful to be able to work for an amazing organization like Herzl.”  

Take note, Summer Staff, this could be you!

Last summer, AJ was Uncle Ozo, support staff for the Ozo program, and Sam was staff for B’yachad, our 10th grade program. Both are rising juniors and are excited to return to camp in future summers, too.