Danielle Mizrachi's Experience at Bakehila
Last summer I interned in Tel Aviv for two months. I knew at the end of my experience in Israel that I was going to come back. After researching how I could make this possible, I found the Onward Israel Program. Onward Israel allows students to intern in Jerusalem for two months. I was excited to learn that the program was in the same city that most of my family, including my Dad, lives in.
When I was accepted into the program, the internship coordinator, Noah, wanted to skype immediately to begin the internship search. He asked me to explain to him what I was interested in. I told Noah that a lot of my past internships and learning experience has been social-justice oriented. I really enjoy doing this type of work.
Onward Israel connected me with the non-profit sector of Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP), Bakehila. Bakehila’s mission is to increase social mobility in disadvantaged Jerusalem neighborhoods. For many years now, I have been committed to social entrepreneurship, using important concepts in business to create systemic social change. JVP is an accomplished venture capital fund. The owner of the organization found it important to create Bakehila because of his dedication to strengthening Israeli society. My internship coordinator was able to find an organization whose mission I strongly relate to due to my family history. My father grew up in a poor neighborhood in Jerusalem. He often recounts his difficult childhood and daily financial struggles. At Bakehila, I would be able to utilize my past experiences, and my interests in business and social justice to help stop the cycle that impacted my father’s life and learn more about how this type of organization is run.
My first few weeks at Bakehila were so meaningful and interesting. I sat down with Yair my first day to talk about what my summer would look like and what projects I could get started on. We spoke about the issue of wealth inequality in Israel, and how such a problem can be fixed by providing the proper education for children to “move up the ladder.” The conversation was very thought provoking. I had learned a lot about social immobility in the United States in a course at Brandeis. We came to a similar conclusion in the class; that the problem of social immobility stemmed from educational gaps. A similar problem exists in Israel. I was going to be working on a project that would help Bakehila maintain a connection with the students that graduate from the program in 9th grade. In addition to this, I would work directly with the kids for their two-week summer learning camp. After the learning camp, more projects were to come!
It is so uplifting to be surrounded by individuals who truly believe that Bakehila will change Israel and will one day no longer need to exist. It was at that point I realized just how much my values and beliefs lined up with Bakehila and its mission.