More than 300 Birthright Israel Excel Fellows from North America and around the world gathered in New York City over the weekend of March 24-26 for the Excelerate23 Summit.
Birthright Israel Excel is a business fellowship that offers highly accomplished college students a summer internship in Israel, followed by membership in an exclusive community of peers focused on professional development, personal growth, Israel engagement and philanthropy. After their internships, Excel Fellows have maximized their experiences by taking on positions at top-tier companies such as J.P. Morgan Chase, Bain & Company and Google, developing strategic partnerships with Israeli companies and starting their own companies, often hiring other Fellows.
The program has grown tremendously, with the number of applications for its 2023 summer program rising 80% from last year. This year also has brought a record number of U.S. applicants since Birthright Israel Excel started in 2011.
According to executive director Idit Rubin, some 30 Fellows from Israel and several others from Brazil, the United Kingdom, South Africa, France, Argentina and Mexico joined their North American peers for Excelerate23, cementing those bonds.
Participants attended networking opportunities, industry-specific panels and discussions about topics such as business development, Jewish identity and Israel engagement. The summit also held workshops to empower participants to combat anti-Semitism.
Featured presentations by two recognized leaders in the world of business and entrepreneurship took place on March 26: Marc Rowan, CEO of Apollo Global Management Inc.; and Enes Kanter Freedom, activist and former NBA player.
Sunday also included a talk by New York Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-15th Congressional District). Referring to the anti-Semitic pandemic across the United States, Torres said that he supports Israel, not despite his progressiveness, but because of it. “BDS activists reject the two-state solution and thus the very existence of Israel, and that’s a double standard. It is imperative that we all stand up and speak out against antisemitism.”
Rubin said that “it was heartwarming to see this amazing group of young leaders showing their love and support for the country. The Global Summit is literally the climax of the year for the Excel Fellowship when we gather as a global community to connect, share ideas and advance partnerships with Israel. Especially this year, it’s important to address issues beyond our business and tech focus that affect the Jewish people around the world. We know that our community cares deeply about the horrific rise in anti-Semitism and we are eager to discuss approaches to effectively combat.”