Birthright Israel Excel Fellowship kicks off summer program

Birthright Israel Excel welcomed 64 international college students to their fellowship program this week.

 Birthright Israel Excel 2023 (photo credit: Or Doga)
Birthright Israel Excel 2023
(photo credit: Or Doga)

The 2023 cohort of Birthright Israel Excel’s prestigious lifelong fellowship in business and technology kicked off on Monday night by welcoming 64 extraordinary college students from around the world to Israel.

The opening event, a cocktail reception, was held at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

This year’s cohort is the most diverse since Birthright Israel Excel began 13 years ago, with 11 countries, including Israel, represented, and a first-time participant from Panama. Forty-two participants are from the United States, while 22 come from Australia, Brazil, Canada, England, France, Italy, Mexico, Panama, and Spain.

A particularly unique and highly valued aspect of the summer program is the one-on-one pairing between each Excel Fellow and an Israeli peer Excel Fellow, which allows for a quick acclimation to the local culture and a chance to see the country through a more authentic lens than as typical tourists. Many peer-to-peer relationships grow into long-term friendships and some have invested in each other’s business ventures. 

Some 30% of the participants are visiting Israel for the first time, which meets one of the program’s primary goals: connecting with less-affiliated Jewish students.

Since 2011, the Birthright Israel Excel Fellowship has cultivated the next generation of Jewish business leaders. Each year the fellowship carefully selects top students from hundreds of applicants for summer internships with leading business and tech companies in Tel Aviv.

  Birthright Israel Excel 2023 (credit: Or Doga)
Birthright Israel Excel 2023 (credit: Or Doga)

“Birthright and Birthright Excel have been life changing experiences for me, empowering me to be a Jewish leader wanting to pay it forward for the next generation.”

Avery Rosin

“Birthright Excel has given me lifelong dear friends as well as tremendous business connections with both investors and entrepreneurs,” said Avery Rosin who was on the first cohort of Excel in 2011 and today serves as Partner at Lead Edge Capital and Board Member at Birthright Israel Foundation. 

“Excel helped me get my start as a technology investor, as I am a partner at a growth equity firm that I have been with for over a decade. We’ve hired talented partners and associates from the Excel alumni community.”

Benefits of the program

These internships are in areas such as environmental sustainability, software development, consulting, finance, venture capital, engineering, marketing, cyber-tech, biotech business, and startups.

The Excel Fellowship summer experience consists of hands-on work experience interning throughout each Israeli workweek, along with an evening speaker series featuring accomplished, fascinating leaders from across Israeli society, and a discussion with community members within Israel’s Micro Communities to discuss diversity within Israeli society.

The third component features three-weekend group trips traveling throughout the country. These trips typically include visits to the north, including the Golan Heights, a winery tour, and a rafting trip down the Jordan River, a tip to Jerusalem, including the Western Wall and the Mahane Yehuda outdoor market, and the south for a desert trek, a mud bath in the Dead Sea, and a sunrise hike on Masada. Excel Fellows are also given free time to explore Israel with their peers.

After their return home, the Excel fellows enter a network that provides resources for professional and personal development, Israel engagement, and encouraging them as philanthropists.

Birthright Israel Excel Fellows have progressed to positions at top-tier companies, such as J.P. Morgan, Bain & Company, and Google. Others have developed strategic partnerships with Israeli companies and started their own companies, often hiring other fellows.