I was in Israel for so long that in a way it still feels weird to not be there and working to fulfill my goals at the RRG Beit Midrash. I spent a lot of time this summer working on myself and my professional skills and I think that I have come away with a much better understanding of who I am and what a Jewish nonprofit is like that should give me a leg up in the future when I need to put those skills to the test!
In a way, I intended this internship to be a proving ground for me to test myself, to see if working as the rabbinic head of a Jewish nonprofit was something that I was capable of, let alone liked doing. I can’t say that after this summer that I now feel like a position of that kind is my calling, but I haven’t ruled it out as a potential job that I could work in the future and now that I have some experience I would feel much more comfortable in such a role.
I would recommend someone to take an internship position at the RRG Beit Midrash in a heartbeat because of how much of a positive work environment it is and the best advice I could give for someone with my internship would be not to underestimate themselves. The people I worked with were incredibly supportive and kind and helped me through whatever I needed assistance with and were too considerate of my limits to the point where I needed to tell my boss that I could handle more than he was giving me. But to get to the point where I felt comfortable with telling him that I needed to believe in my own ability to rise to the whatever task I was given, with or without help. There is nothing that you will encounter in this or any internship that is too difficult to do with some help, so there is no need to hold yourself back out of fear or lack of confidence. And in the world of Jewish nonprofits the best thing for an intern to have is confidence, even if it’s only false confidence at the start. Internships like mine are all about how well you can interact with people and we are all human, a smile, some friendliness, and the impression that you know what you are doing are all you need to succeed and make an impact. It seems scary at first but isn’t once you get used to it.
My goal for the summer was to get experience working at a nonprofit and to make an impact where I worked and my most proud accomplishment is what I helped the organization to accomplish and how doing so helped me to achieve my goals. All nonprofits live and die on how much money they can raise and the RRGBM is no exception. When I arrived back in June my boss told me the program had an ambitious goal for the summer, to raise $60,000, more than twice as much as they had ever raised in a year. I am happy to say that in part thanks to my efforts we raised slightly over our $60,000 goal and managed to secure full funding not only for the program’s usual operations but also enough money to expand our outreach to two new locations in Givat Ram and the IDC in Hertzelia! So I leave my internship with a sense of accomplishment and the knowledge that my efforts will make a real difference in the lives of hundreds of young Jewish college students.
So long, Jerusalem and see you soon!
It has now been four weeks since I was given the illustrious title of Social Media Director for the Hebrew University Beit Midrash and I am starting to feel a sense of normalcy or routine in my time here in Israel. My job is very different from any other position I have held so far. The greatest contributor to that difference is my boss himself, Rabbi Yonatan Udren. Rabbi Udren is the best and most supportive boss I could have hoped for and is the driving force in everything I am getting out of this internship on a professional level. I am not exaggerating when I say that in one hour of working with Rabbi Udren on the program’s summer fundraiser I received more compliments and affirmation from a supervisor than I had received in the rest of my seven years of working combined. All of the feedback, praise, and guidance I have gotten from Rabbi Udren has made this the most enjoyable work I have ever done, and I truly feel like I am an important and valued member of the office.
The work I am doing for the Beit Midrash is the most interpersonal and interdependent experience I have ever had. I came in with a limited skill set and was trained to adapt that skill set to the various websites and organizations tools that nonprofits use, like Donorperfect, in order to help support what everyone else in the office is doing. At the same time I am reaching out to and talking with people who know the program I am working for but not me. It has really helped me to break out of what was left of my metaphorical “shell”. Everything done in the office is backed up by at least two other people so I am learning to work on a professional team and complete projects in a way that schooling has never been dynamic enough to teach me.
I am learning how to be part of a professional team project which is always applicable to the workforce but more specifically and importantly to me, I am leaning to use all of the tools, both virtual and behavioral, that are necessary to keep a Jewish nonprofit running. As someone who wants to work as a rabbi and will almost certainly spend time in the world of Jewish nonprofits, this work experience is directly applicable and is teaching me how to succeed in that future job before I even know what that position is because all of the skills that I am learning are universal and transferable to any situation. And on a more personal level, Rabbi Udren and I have been using weekly meetings and over-text check-ins to help me work through the book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Franklin Covey. Rabbi Udren recommended the book to me when I first told him about myself two months ago and the lessons in personal growth, management, and interpersonal connections that I can learn from the book have already started to help me develop myself professionally.
Greetings from Jerusalem! I am interning for the Hillel at Hebrew University in Jerusalem for their English language Beit Midrash (Jewish text study house), working under and with the head rabbi of the program, Rabbi Udren. So far in June my job has been mostly to work with the rest of the Hillel team to promote fundraising (shameless plug) for next year to get money for programs to rebuild the community after the worst of the pandemic left campus empty. We have done most of this fundraising by calling potential donors and sending messages on WhatsApp. We meet in the office twice a week and make phone calls and documenting the response we get from the people we talk to. So far our efforts have raised $35,000 of our $60,000 goal which is the most successful phone drive the program has had to date!
In July my job will switch to focusing on the social media presence of the University Hillel; I will be in charge of posting to their Facebook and Instagram as well as finding ways to further promote those two platforms to increase their presence and popularity both for the community and as a way to promote Rabbi Udren’s weekly Torah learning podcast, Sparks From the Fire (yes, another shameless plug!). I have already put some effort into this task while I was in quarantine, which has given me a head start and an insight to the problems that the accounts have. The objective is to, by the end of my time there, recreate the schedule and guidelines for posting on those two platforms in a way that can be continued by the rabbi when I leave and to increase the reach of the podcast to people all over the world. I have even been given the illustrious title of Social Media Director for the program! The title only came with pride and a sense of appreciation, not a raise.
From the internship I hope to gain experience and insight into working for a Jewish nonprofit and to make connections that can aid me in my professional life. Furthermore, I have been given the opportunity to learn Jewish texts at a Yeshiva (house of study) two mornings a week, which has served to deepen my spiritual connection to Judaism as well as given me more experience studying Jewish texts, which has been imperative for my professional development.
While I do go into the office several times a week, most of my work as the Social Media Director can and is done remotely, from the comfort of whatever park I am exploring on a given day. I have been able to interact with many Israelis which has taught me one thing: I need to learn more Hebrew. I am hoping that with enough time and practice here that I will finally realize all of the lessons that my Hebrew professors have been trying to instill in me for three years now. I’m sorry, Sara and Guy.
(My view from the office)