Ashley Skolnik

Onward Montreal

Each year, a few months before summer begins, I go through the same struggle. The search for what to do for the summer months. I knew I wanted to visit Israel for the first time this summer, but was not sure how to do it.

Originally, I was going to do Birthright and then travel Europe for a little while, a typical itinerary for young Jews from North America. Then I went to an event organized by Hillel, displaying different ways a student can study or work in Israel. After walking from table to table, hearing about the different Israel opportunities, I heard about Onward Israel and my plans suddenly changed.

Onward Israel is an internship program that allows students to dive into the Israeli work force for a short period of time. Everyone is placed with an organization that best fits their interests and passions. We work four days a week and have an educational day on Thursdays. The educational days explore different sectors and cities across Israel. We visit Jerusalem, Haifa and Tel Aviv!

Every Onward program is different. I am on Onward Montreal. This specific program has given me the opportunity to do many things that I could never do without the support of Onward. I got the chance to see Omer Adam live at “Students’ Day” in Be’er Sheva, we visited the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, took a Krav Maga class, visited SodaStream’s Negev factory, and had a food tour in Mahane Yehuda in Jerusalem.

The Onward Montreal cohort is placed with a group of Israelis around the same age as the group. This allows for Israelis and Canadians to create relationships. I did not expect to form such strong connections with the group of Israelis, but now I cannot imagine my time in Israel without them. Because of them, we have been able to truly immerse ourselves in Israeli culture.

Our group of 15 is incredibly diverse. But these differences are what makes our group unique. Each one of us brings news ideas and views, and connects to different aspects of our adopted hometown in Be’er Sheva. We have become a tight knit group, and have already begun planning reunions to continue seeing each other when we return to Montreal.

I never expected to fall in love with Onward Israel as much as I have. While gaining invaluable work experience at an incredible organization, Eretz-Ir NGO, I have been able to form strong bonds with both Israelis and fellow Jewish students studying in Montreal.

I would highly recommend this internship to my peers in Montreal, or other Jewish students around the world. When you’re living and working in Israel, it’s impossible to feel you’ve remained a tourist. Instead, this program has taught me to view Israel as home.

About the Author
Ashley Skolnik is a student from Montreal living in Be'er Sheva for 6 weeks. She attends Concordia University and is completing a BA in Sociology. She is interning at a non-profit organization called Eretz-Ir during her time in Israel.
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