The Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies has released Beyond 10 days: Parents, Gender, Marriage, and the Long-term Impact of Birthright Israel their latest report from the Jewish Futures Project, a flagship longitudinal study of thousands of Birthright Israel applicants. The findings confirm earlier reports about Birthright’s impact on shaping the Jewish trajectories of a generation of Jewish young adults.
The report provides details about Birthright’s differential levels of impact based on family background (e.g., whether panel members have one versus two Jewish parents), gender, and whether or not they are partnered. The report describes how Birthright continues to influence the lives of participants even a decade after the trip and documents Birthright’s ongoing impact on participants’ connection to Israel, marriage, and engagement with Jewish life.
- Birthright participants are more likely to feel a connection to Israel, have a Jewish spouse, raise Jewish children and be engaged in Jewish life, even a decade or more after the trip.
- In contrast to reports of “distancing” from Israel among young American Jews, Birthright’s effect on connection to Israel persists and is significant. Most JFP panelists feel at least “somewhat” connected to Israel, and participants report higher levels of connection than their nonparticipant peers.
- Birthright’s effect on participants with one Jewish parent is similar to that on participants with two Jewish parents. Compared to nonparticipants, Birthright participants who have one Jewish parent remain more connected to Israel a decade or more after their trip. They are also more likely to have a Jewish spouse.
- Birthright’s impact is evident even for participants who have had no other Israel experience, when compared to similar nonparticipants who have never been to Israel.
- Among those who are married, engaged, or living with a partner, Birthright has a positive impact on virtually all areas of Jewish engagement, including Jewish communal involvement, social and cultural engagement, and religious observance. Among those who are not partnered, Birthright has an impact on only a few measures of Jewish engagement.
- The impact of Birthright on partner choice is different for men and women. For men, Birthright participation has a positive impact on having a Jewish spouse, fiance/e or partner; a positive impact on the likelihood of spousal conversion to Judaism; and a positive impact on the likelihood that children are being raised Jewish by religion, even if the other parent is not Jewish. These effects are weaker for women. This difference may be related to traditional Jewish views on matrilineal descent or gender dynamics in the contemporary “marriage market.”
- For men who participated in Birthright, their greater likelihood of marrying a Jewish spouse decreases as their age at marriage increases. Among men who married after age 30, there are no differences between participants and nonparticipants in terms of their likelihood of marrying a Jewish spouse. Whether the diminishing impact of Birthright on spousal choice as participants age is due to changes in participants’ priorities, their opportunities in the marriage market, or a combination of both is not clear.