20 Outstanding Students Arrive in Israel

    Pe’er-li Shachar | Reshet Bet


    Pe’er-li Shachar: And now we want to tell you about a special project of Taglit-Birthright Israel, a prestigious and unique program. 20 outstanding students just arrived in Israel 3 hours ago, they come from top U.S. universities and they’re supposed to be spending 3 months here to intern with leading companies here in Israel.

    Hello to Vered Fishbein.

    Vered Fishbein, Taglit-Birthright Israel: Hello, good evening.

    Pe’er-li Shachar: So tell us what they’re supposed to be doing here and why this project is so important that high-ranking figures in the economic sphere, I’m looking at the list, Stanley Fischer, Yuval Steinitz, Eitan Wertheimer, Gil Shweid, Meir Brand, Ada Yonath, all these people are meeting with them?

    Vered Fishbein, Taglit-Birthright Israel: I think this is the first time that business people on both sides of the Atlantic, both Israeli and American, are actually sitting down and saying let’s do something that isn’t just about money, let’s create something different, we’ll take the people who are going to be the leaders in technology and finance, and together we’ll create the Jewish people’s future leadership, one that will lead us into the 21st century.

    Pe’er-li Shachar: What do you mean by the Jewish people’s leadership?

    Vered Fishbein, Taglit-Birthright Israel: We’re talking about students who excel in all the fields they’re involved in and who come from the top American universities, and what we mean is basically that these are people who are going to be make something of themselves somewhere, and we want to channel them to become the ones who’ll grow up to be the philanthropists of the future, those who’ll be taking responsibility for the issue of Jewish identity and the relationship with Israel.

    This is important for us not just from a business point of view, it’s important for us from an ideological point of view, in terms of the country and who will be supporting us in the future. The aim is, essentially, to create a kind of reserve of business ambassadors to Israel, so if there are five countries in the first string, we won’t be sitting on the bench. So that other countries will come and do business here, with Israel as well. This is possible.

    Pe’er-li Shachar: That is, we’re talking about, we’re talking here about an all-Jewish framework whose goal is basically to create a worldwide network?

    Vered Fishbein, Taglit-Birthright Israel: The goal is, at present the program is actually being operated with students from the US, but the idea is really to expand it in a global way. Birthright Israel currently operates all of its programs globally and in every country where there are Jews, we’re there. So right now we’re operating a pilot with American Jews but really the idea is to expand next year and in the coming years. There are outstanding people who have, who have extraordinary achievements to their credit, and the idea is to place them with Israeli companies that have the ability in the technological and financial spheres to spread the word, so they’ll bring investments here and I think that this was truly an exceptional opportunity.

    Pe’er-li Shachar: Who came up with the idea? How was it born?

    Vered Fishbein, Taglit-Birthright Israel: The idea was basically generated by a founder of Taglit-Birthright Israel, Michael Steinhardt, the legendary American philanthropist, and he was one of the original founders of Birthright Israel along with other philanthropists, and he came up with the idea, he saw the Israeli business world as an impetus that could absorb and attract successful Americans to come and do internships here because the Americans who came here would be able to intern at Goldman Sachs and … they chose instead to come to Israel to intern here at Israeli companies.

    Pe’er-li Shachar: Thank you very much Vered Fishbein.

    Vered Fishbein, Taglit-Birthright Israel: Thank you very much, thank you very much.