Birthright Israel Excel Fellows

Skylar Losepovici

Left to right Jimmy Hefter, Ben Landau, Jacob Richman and Dan Gelfard, 

all from Westchester, photo credit-Luis Ruiz

Over 300 Birthright Israel Excel Fellows from North America and around the world gathered in New York City March 24-26, for the Excelerate23 Summit. 


Birthright Israel Excel is a prestigious 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 Birthright Israel Excel program has grown tremendously, with the number of applications for its 2023 summer program rising 80 percent from last year. This year also has brought a record number of U.S. applicants since Birthright Israel Excel started in 2011.  


According to Birthright Israel Excel’s Executive Director Idit Rubin, some 30 Fellows from Israel and several others from Brazil, UK, South Africa, France, Argentina and Mexico joined their North American peers for Excelerate23, cementing those bonds.


Skylar Losepovici from Hastings-on-Hudson said, “The essence of Excel truly is the community, and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve as one of over a thousand diverse, driven fellows who share my passion for positive impact, both in Israel and across the globe.”


Throughout the weekend, participants attended plentiful networking opportunities, industry-specific panels and discussions about topics such as business development, Jewish identity and Israel engagement.


Sunday featured presentations by two recognized leaders in the world of business and entrepreneurship. Marc Rowan, CEO, Apollo Global Management Inc, and Enes Kanter Freedom, Activist and Former NBA player.


Sunday also included a talk by Representative Ritchie Torres, New York’s 15th Congressional District. Referring to the anti-Semitic pandemic across the US, 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,” he added.


“In these challenging times in Israel, it was heartwarming to see this amazing group of young leaders showing their love and support for the country,” said Rubin. “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,” she added.


The summit also held workshops to empower participants to combat anti-Semitism. David Bernstein, CAM senior advisor and founder of the Jewish Institute for Liberal Values, lead a session titled, “Countering Political Extremism and Anti-Semitism Today.” Greg Thomas, co-executive director of the Omni-American Future Project – an initiative committed to fighting racism and anti-Semitism and strengthening unity between the Black American and Jewish communities through exposure to each group’s music and culture – lead a session titled, “Black-Jewish Relations: The Omni-American Vision.” And Anila Ali, a Muslim civil-rights advocate, lead a session titled, “Fighting Anti-Semitism in the Muslim World.”


Since 2011, Birthright Israel Excel has been engaged in developing the next generation of Jewish business leaders. The Excel Fellowship selects extraordinary college students around the world for a summer business or tech internship in Tel Aviv at leading companies. After their return, Excel Fellows become part of a global community that provides resources for professional and personal development and Israel engagement, while also being dedicated to philanthropy.


“The Birthright Israel Excel program is considered to be the most prestigious program in the Jewish world today, with only a few dozen young people being accepted from thousands of applicants. This year we received applications from 26 countries,” said Gidi Mark, CEO of Birthright Israel. “Birthright Excel Fellows are active every day as recognized leaders in their professional arenas and within the broad Jewish community and it’s our goal to continue guiding and supporting them in their efforts to build a thriving and better Jewish future for all.”