THOUSANDS APPLIED, ONLY 40 SELECTED

SPECIAL FOR THE AJT

Birthright Israel’s elite Excel leadership program kicked-off its 2014 program this week at Microsoft Israel. The ceremony welcomed Excel’s newest class of 40 college students, from 14 U.S. States and Ontario, Canada, to the Birthright Excel network, which includes 92 past alumni.

Birthright Israel Excel Fellows spend 10 weeks during the summer interning at Israeli offices of prominent multinational companies within a wide range of industries including finance, venture capital, consulting, high-tech and bio-tech. In the professional arena, Excel Fellows are matched with a mentor, an Israeli executive of the company at which they intern. On a social level, they are “twinned” with an Israeli peer, who comes to the Excel Fellowship Program with honors in their own right from either the Israeli Defense Forces or the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya.

In addition to the internship, Excel Fellows attend meetings with distinguished Israeli leaders from the fields of business, technology, culture, politics and philanthropy, and partake in workshops and trips on a broad range of topics including leadership, Jewish identity, and communication. This year’s Fellows will intern at 34 of the world’s leading companies, including EY, Deloitte, Microsoft Ventures, Citi Bank, GM and Barclays.

“Taglit-Birthright Israel is about securing the future of the Jewish people and the Birthright Israel Excel program is all about creating a successful network of the future leaders inspired by their Jewish values and connection to Israel,” said Taglit-Birthright CEO, Gidi Mark.

Upon their return, Excel Fellows join a network of active alumni across the U.S. and Israel. They participate in ongoing programming aimed at shaping the group’s consciousness in business leadership, Jewish leadership, and social responsibility. In addition to an annual leadership conference, Fellows attend regular meetings and workshops with business and technology leaders throughout the U.S. and Israel.

“The Birthright Excel Fellowship program does not end for participants when the doors close on the last day of their internship in Israel,” said Sharon Prince, U.S. coordinator for Birthright Israel Excel. “The relationships with top Jewish business leaders, from both the U.S. and Israel, continue to grow when the Fellows return home. In this way, Excel goes far beyond the traditional idea of an internship that would simply teach a student a skill. The Excel Fellows depart Israel with budding connections to peers from around the world who will be the Jewish business and technology leaders of tomorrow.”

Birthright Israel Excel is sponsored by the Steinhardt Family Foundation, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, and the Paul E. Singer Foundation. The ultimate goal of the program is creating a network of successful global professionals in order to cultivate the next generation of leaders, inspired by Jewish values and entrepreneurship. Registration for interested Excel applicants opens in December and runs until early February. The program is highly competitive with approximately 40 participants selected out of thousands of applications.

Excel is a program conducted by Taglit-Birthright Israel. Taglit-Birthright Israel sends Jewish adults between the ages of 18 and 26 on a free 10-day trip to Israel to strengthen each participant’s Jewish identity. Taglit- Birthright Israel aims to build an understanding, friendship, and lasting bond with the land and people of Israel and to reinforce the solidarity of the Jewish people worldwide. Since its inception in 2000, more than 350,000 Jewish young adults have taken part in Taglit-Birthright Israel from 64 countries, all 50 U.S. states, and from nearly 1,000 North American college campuses.