June 22, 2017 — Our First Post!

The Birthright Israel Excel 2017 Cohort at our opening event at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and Birthright Israel Innovation Center.

Welcome to the Birthright Israel Excel Blog!

We are proud and excited to launch this platform and to share with you our Fellows’ stories, insights and experiences. The decision to create a blog was a simple one — our Fellows already offer each other a wealth of knowledge, experiences, and insights, so sharing these assets with the world was the obvious next step. Their wide array of expertise and achievements are an inherent part of our success. We look forward to posting reflections on moments from our Fellows’ summer program in Israel, stories of how they were able to bring the Excel experience and Israel’s innovative culture to campus and work in Israel and North America, and lessons they learned on the job or from their community engagement. This blog is for you, the reader, to interact and learn from the best and brightest upcoming Jewish business leaders.

So who are the Excel Fellows?

Our fellowship attracts college students from the most prestigious and powerful institutions in the US, Canada, Mexico and Israel. They are full of potential as the future business leaders of the global Jewish community, and are eager to contribute to a broader conversation on business, entrepreneurship, leadership, rebounding from failure, philanthropy, travel, Jewish culture and simple life hacks.

In addition to the personal and professional insights of our Fellows, we will also share posts from our staff and other Excel leadership, including executives from Birthright Israel, our funders, mentors, advisers and partners.

A little bit about us.

Birthright Israel Excel was founded in 2011 when Michael Steinhardt, Co-Founder of Birthright Israel, approached Birthright Israel CEO, Gidi Mark with a radical idea: to bring together the brightest minds from North America and Israel, and to building a growing, thriving community of the future business and philanthropic leaders of the Jewish community. Since then we have also partnered with the Charles & Lynn Schusterman Foundation and the Paul E. Singer Foundation and brought 570 individuals from 66 North American universities, 7 Israeli universities as well as the Israel Defense Forces to participate in our fellowship and join our lifelong community. Because of our people and the unique opportunities we offer to them, Excel is unlike any other program in the world.

Summer 2017 is the seventh consecutive summer that Excel has brought outstanding candidates to Israel. An all expenses paid experience, Excel is much more than a line on a resume. Whether they participate in our immersive Business Experience or our intensive Ventures program, Excelers are pushed to the max and learn and grow from a variety of opportunities both in the boardroom and on the streets of Tel Aviv. We match North American college sophomores, juniors and seniors with internships in leading global companies in Israel (Deloitte, Check Point, EY, Amdocs, Viola, Microsoft, Deutsche Telekom, Facebook and Visa, to name a few). These participants are paired one-on-one with an Israeli peer who is currently in school or serving in the Israel Defense Forces. Together, they explore the Israeli culture, economy and society and build lasting relationships for years to come. Additionally, we have an intensive start-up pre-accelerator program that empowers North American seniors and recent graduates as well as promising young Israelis to work together to develop innovative technological startups. Participants form multidisciplinary teams and work tirelessly on their startup, while being mentored by Excel’s vast, talented business network. Both program offerings have proven to be life-changing and career-affirming for our Fellows.

Not only do our Fellows work full time over the summer, but they also get to meet dozens of prominent business, political and societal leaders, have leadership training, community building activities, and three trips — to Israel’s South, North and Jerusalem. It’s truly the summer of a lifetime. Our summer programs and comprehensive 10-week experience are launchpads for these talented, highly intelligent and successful individuals into careers in finance, consulting, venture capital, biotech, business development, marketing, entrepreneurship, and cyber security.

The bonding doesn’t end in Israel though.

Upon completion of the summer program, Excel Fellows maintain their connections and meet the rest of their peers through a vast array of custom-tailored and community-led programs. From happy hours to adviser meetings, community service to Shabbat dinner, monthly programs, spontaneous meetups, and help along the way with interview prep, college decisions and more, Excel Fellows are friends and colleagues for life. The network that they build is truly unparalleled, and the proof is in the energy that emerges when they reunite in their respective home communities for annual business leadership conferences — in New York in the fall and in Israel in the spring. This November, we are expanding the vision and scope of our North American conference to include members of the broader young professional community at our first ever Excel Summit!

Follow us as we begin to share our stories on this new Excel Blog. They will only scratch the surface at the lasting impact of the Excel Fellowship, but we hope that even a quick read will brighten your day, and maybe even teach you something new!

All the best,

The Birthright Israel Excel Team

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