A Promising Beginning

The JLIC Ascend Program kicked off with an exciting and fulfilling start. The participants, a dynamic group of students aged 18-22, landed and immediately dove into an orientation that set the tone for their JLIC summer experience. The orientation included preparations for their internships, introductions to the learning program, and a memorable trip to the Old City of Jerusalem and the Kotel.JLIC Summer students on the Ascend programing taking a break while exploring the Old City of Jerusalem.

The first Friday was spent at Kibbutz Cramim, where the students enjoyed activities such as paintball, a Ninja Warrior Course, and an ice cream bar. Shabbat was observed in the southern city of Yerucham, where the group delved into learning about each other and the socio-economic situation in Israel. The weekend was filled with bonding, and everyone had a fantastic time getting to know one another and the staff.

JLIC Summer students on the Ascend programing enjoying ice cream during one of their activities.

Upon returning to Jerusalem on Saturday night, the students were ready to embark on their first week of internships. Throughout the week, they adjusted to their new work schedules, became familiar with their jobs, and spent their evenings learning about Zionism. They had the opportunity to hear from notable speakers like Ilan Wagner, VP and Founder of Birthright Onward Israel, and Rav Uri Pilichowski, head of Nefesh B’Nefesh’s Zionist Education Initiative. The week also included a tour of Har Herzl, Israel’s national military cemetery. The focus for the upcoming weeks would shift to Mental Health and Hi-Tech, promising more learning and growth opportunities for the participants.

JLIC Summer students on the Ascend programing visit Har Herzl to pay respect to fallen heros.

Internship Spotlight

Daniella Burger, from Hollywood, Florida, is studying aerospace engineering at the University of Florida in Gainesville. She had just finished her freshman year when she joined the Ascend Program. Daniella was thrilled to intern at Technion in a fluid dynamics lab, where she delved into machine learning and its applications in solving drag issues in fluid dynamics. She learned how to program in Python, solve coding errors, and gained insights into machine learning and neural networks—areas she wouldn’t have explored without this internship.

Working with other students from various SIJ programs, Daniella formed professional connections and found that collaborating with like-minded individuals enhanced her learning experience. She also enjoyed her commute to Haifa, which allowed her to see parts of Israel she had never visited before. These unique experiences fueled her motivation to consider making Aliyah.

Student Spotlight

Adam Heaney, a student at Brandeis University majoring in Computer Science, entered his junior year while participating in the Ascend Program. Adam, a Syrian Jew from West Long Branch, New Jersey, shared his passion for nature, sports, and new experiences. During the orientation Shabbaton, he experienced paintball for the first time, which left a strong impression and even sparked a consideration of joining the army. Adam enjoyed meeting people on the program and was grateful for the opportunity to explore and enjoy Israel.

Experience Spotlight

Jessica Maza described her first week in Israel as the best week of her life. The environment, coupled with the amazing people she met, created a special and unforgettable experience. The meaningful Shabbaton and davening sessions deepened her connection to the group and to Israel. Jessica expressed her gratitude for being part of the Ascend Program and looked forward to the rest of the summer with excitement and anticipation.

The JLIC Summer Ascend Program has provided its participants with a remarkable start to their summer in Israel. From internships and learning opportunities to cultural experiences and personal growth, the program has set the stage for an enriching and transformative journey. As the summer progresses, the students will continue to explore, learn, and build lasting connections, making the most of this unique opportunity.

Reach out to any of our Directors to learn more about and to support JLIC and our programming.

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