The Mike and Sofia Segal Family Foundation has given $60,000 to the Birthright Israel Foundation, moving an entire busload of applicants off the Manhattan waitlist and onto planes to Israel this summer. Through a dollar-for-dollar match, the one-time gift will enable Birthright Israel to send 40 Jewish young adults to Israel in a partnership with The Jewish Community Center (JCC) in Manhattan.
“This gift is an example of committed philanthropists recognizing that Birthright Israel has an impact not only on the participants that go, but on the community they return to,” said Birthright Israel Foundation President Robert Aronson. “They will leave as forty individual Jews, but they will return as a micro-community, bonded by an intense and meaningful experience.”
While the Birthright Israel program takes Jewish young adults ages 18 to 26 to Israel, this particular trip will target 22- to 26-year-olds, according to Jenna Segal, a Birthright Israel Foundation board member and daughter-in-law of Mike and Sofia Segal.
“We want it to be for people who are living in New York permanently, so they can take advantage of the local follow-up,” Jenna Segal said. “It’s all about synergy.”
The gift is coordinated with another Segal family gift – this time from Jenna and her husband Paul – to the JCC. It will fund a unique “Passport” program offering discounts to various JCC activities for Birthright Israel alumni and their friends.
Over 10,000 New Yorkers applied to Birthright Israel’s summer session this year, but historically more than half of the city’s eligible applicants get left behind each session for lack of funds. In the decade since its founding, Birthright Israel has taken over 41,000 Jewish young adults from the New York area to Israel.
The Segal gift is one of several community-based donations to the Birthright Israel Foundation this year. It will leverage the foundation’s 2010 Adelson/New Founders Challenge Grant to reach $120,000 – the full cost of a bus.