Jewish National Fund selects Baruch student for educational trip to Israel


Luis GB | Flickr

Kadija Abdoulaye

Baruch College student Manav Tilwani was selected by the Jewish National Fund as one of 80 students in the nation for an all-expense paid trip to Israel.

JNF is the largest provider of Israeli education programs in the United States. JNF JNF aims to “engage, educate and help students – and the broader community – foster a greater commitment and love for the land of Israel.”

Tilwani, who is majoring in statistics and quantitative modeling and working as an investment banker at Whitehall & Company, was inspired to apply for the program to counter the “misinformation about Jewish culture.”

Tilwani described the selection process as “intense.”

Through a series of essays and interviews, Tilwani highlighted his leadership skills as an undergraduate admissions advisor, guiding high school students through applications, and as a climate scholar conducting research for professors and teaching about climate change.

He further explained his motivation for participating in the program.

Once selected, Tilwani executed research in preparation for his trip by reading the news and learning about what was happening in Israel and neighboring countries.

“Six months before the trip, I attended monthly webinars and got to meet with leaders in Jewish communities,” he told the Ticker. He says he also read a series of books and articles and spoke to Jewish friends.

During the trip, Tilwani participated in a range of activities and events. He started in northern Israel and moved down to the lower city of Jerusalem.

He found this part of the trip particularly eye-opening because of the three religions coexisting in such close proximity to each other. He also went on tours with local guides and listened to guest speakers from a range of industries.

Tilwani had initially not expected Israel to be as developed and modern as it was but was pleasantly surprised by the country’s infrastructure and diversity. He also bonded with the locals despite a language barrier.

He also had the opportunity to bond with the other selected students from across the country.

Tilwani said that he still keeps in touch with the students he met on the trip. He said JNF “paired curious students on purpose” and that he enjoyed learning with like-minded individuals.

Tilwani’s most memorable moment was the Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest where people don’t work from Friday after sunset to Saturday after sunset. He reflected and had a good time with people, danced and visited the Western Wall. The experience taught Tilwani to relax and reminded him to take a break from time to time.

Tilwani says the program helped him learn more about diplomacy and international affairs by talking to leaders on the ground, versus watching television.

“Anything you see on TV, don’t just believe it, do your research, talk to people, form your own opinions,” Tilwani said.

Tilwani called the program a “learning opportunity of a lifetime,” and is grateful for the chance to broaden his perspective and learn about a new culture. He advises non-Jewish students interested in learning more about Israel to reach out to him, read the news and do their own thinking.