Birthright Israel, like you didn’t know

March 30th 2011

Birthright Israel.
The opportunity to travel FOR FREE in Israel.

The latest news: February 15, 2011.

Thousands of different sets of hands were poised above their keyboards, waiting for the exact moment in which registration would begin. In the first minute that it did, 1,000 of them signed up.

In the next seven days, over 40,000 registered.

Sadly, for 25,000 of the excited signer-uppers, it was too late- there were only 15,000 slots available for this upcoming summer session.


Look at those numbers. 15,000 free trips to 15,000 lucky Jewish young adults between the ages of 18- 26. Meaning that, combined with the winter trips numbers around 17,000 participants, this year will be a year of 33,000 Jews from around the world getting private Israel tours, fantastic meals, entertaining Israeli companions, cushy bus cushions, quirky Israeli tour guides, and breathtaking views of the entire country top to bottom as they vacation  through Israel like foreign royalty. For free.

What kind of fabulous dream world are we living in?

And it keeps on getting better.

Determined to make Birthright Israel accessible to all young adults, the Israeli government and private donors are figuring out how to make it happen.  The Israeli government, pleased with the impact that Birthright has had, announced this January that it is committed to contributing $100 million  for Birthright funding to span over the next three years.

Taglit-Birthright’s goal is to send upwards of 51,000 young Jews per year by 2013. Meaning that one in every two Jewish young adults around the world would participate in this exquisite, luxurious  travel adventure as aJewish rite of passage.

It used to be that some lucky Jewish children would get to go on a family Israel bar mitzvah trip in honor of their big day. Now, with Birthright, the majority of Jewish children can plan to see the Holy Land one day, regardless of family finances.

Who are these Birthright hopefuls and participants? They must be between the ages of 18 to 26, and come from all across the spectrum of Jewish belief. When inquired about their religious affiliation in the application, 41% responded Reform, 26%  “just Jewish”, 21% Conservative, and 4% Orthodox. And of course, there were 8% that considered themselves “other”. Jews are a complex people.

Birthright has been around for about 9 years, and in those nine years it has taken approximately 200,000 on glorious travels around the Jewish state, feeding them with plenty of hearty information on Israeli history from experienced Israeli tour guides, teaching them silly Jewish songs to cheer on the bus on their private Israel tour, and having them take part in the heart-stopping experience of the Western wall on Friday night.

The future is bright. Birthright’s 51,000 participant goal would mean that 1 out of every young Jews in the world could be a part of this invigorating adventure. Israel travel without having to pay a single shek. Falafel not included. Go figure.