The desire to “experience something different” encouraged Hanah Tanenholtz to leave her comfort zone and settle halfway around the world for the summer.
“I knew it would be life changing,” she said.
The Howard County native was one of 24 young adults to participate in Baltimore Onward Israel, an eight-week summer internship program based in Tel Aviv that partners with The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. From early June until late July, Tanenholtz spent her days working as a food policy intern for the nonprofit organization Beatavon.
The 22-year-old is now in the home stretch at Towson University, with just one more semester to go until she’s awarded a bachelor’s degree in health science and a minor in political science.
Tanenholtz’s passion for her major interest of study led her to become heavily involved with the TU Health Center, where she served as president of Wellness Peer Educators. The senior put her best foot forward to educate students about nutrition and spearhead health-related activities.
“That was a huge part of my life for two years,” Tanenholtz said. “It was everything to me.”
In addition, she implemented health programming and policies as a representative of the Healthy Campus Initiative, an organization dedicated to creating a healthier environment at TU.
During her final semester as a Towson Tiger, the soon-to-be graduate won’t be taking any classes. Instead, Tanenholtz will satisfy the last of her major requirements by working 40 hours a week at the Kennedy Krieger Institute.
Describe your Jewish involvement growing up.
A major part of my Jewish identity came from my participation in a Rosh Hodesh group during high school. I belonged to an all-girls Rosh Hodesh group that was sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Howard County. We would meet once a month and learn about Jewish women throughout history and their impact on society. This group helped solidify my own Jewish identity, specifically as a Jewish woman. I also attended sleepaway camp at Capital Camps for five years and Hebrew school all the way up until high school, when I was confirmed. After that, I worked as an assistant teacher for the kindergarten at Beth Shalom Congregation. Those experiences really strengthened my love for Judaism.
Why Baltimore Onward Israel?
I have a very strong Jewish identity, and living in Israel for two months was an amazing opportunity. I was really interested in living independently and working in Tel Aviv, becoming more familiar with Israeli culture and learning about the work environment in Israel. I’m in the field of public health, so I wanted to see the differences between issues in the United States and Israel as well as how they’re dealt with.
What was your favorite part of the trip?
Our group travel day was on Tuesday. We’d go to different places around Israel, such as minority villages, and it was just something I had never been exposed to before. We learned about issues that we don’t get taught as Jews living in America. And I think that allowed me to develop a more well-rounded view and a greater understanding of the country and culture as well as Judaism as a whole.
What did you take away from your summer experience?
There’s a great deal of miseducation and misinformation about Israeli issues. I would love to get more involved in different organizations that work to educate community members — whether they’re Jewish or not — about the different sociopolitical and socioeconomic issues in Israel. These are very important, complicated issues. I didn’t know much about them prior to Onward, but now I feel like I have a greater understanding of them and a greater passion for educating others.
What are you hoping to do after graduation?
I’m really focused on doing nonprofit work in public health, specifically focusing on minority populations or women and children within minority populations.