Birthright-Israel Expands Trip Eligibility

Taglit Birthright 2012At a meeting held in Jerusalem yesterday, the Steering Committee of Taglit Birthright-Israel ratified the Israeli government’s request to expand the program to include individuals who previously visited Israel on educational trips while in high school.

The chairman of the steering committee, Minister of Diaspora Affairs, Naftali Bennett, raised the proposal saying that expanding the program would strengthen both Jewish students’ understanding of Israel as well as their Jewish identity. The changes will take effect this coming summer.

“Taglit has proven itself as a leader in strengthening Jewish identity amongst young people in the Diaspora and building ties with the State of Israel” Bennett said, “expanding the participation criteria will add to Taglit’s positive influence in the Jewish world.”

The founding Chairman of Taglit, Mr. Charles Bronfman, praised the move calling it a return to the basic concept of Taglit – to give every young Jewish adult the chance to get an educational tour of Israel.

Additionally, the steering committee decided to significantly increase the number of participants coming from France in light of the increasing difficulties the French Jewish community is facing. Both internal and external financial sources will be tapped for this expansion.

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Comments

  1. Finally! Since the inception of the program, I questioned why those of us who saw the importance of our kids experiencing Israel – and spending thousands of our own dollars in the process – excluded them from such a valuable experience. Indeed, their in-depth trips should enhance the experience that they share with peers on the shorter trips.

    My kids would certainly have benefited from Birthright and I sincerely regret that they are no longer eligible. This was a discrimatory practice, which has thankfully ended.

  2. Again, birthright pats themselves on the back, yet an observant Jew who is studying in Yeshiva in New York, who can not afford going to Israel is still not able to participate.

  3. I applaud the leadership of Birthright Israel for making this momentous decision. Now the impact of the Birthright program will expand even more. Not only does this decision have the ability to increase the number of participants on high-school age programs but it will also change the dynamics of each bus. Each bus will now have more participants who have been actively engaged with organized Jewish life, who will hopefully build meaningful connections with those not yet engaged with organized Jewish life.
    Dan Deutsch
    Vice President, JCC Maccabi

  4. We are very excited with this incredible development. NCSY send the largest contingent of high school students from North America to Israel every summer with over 1000 teens partcipating this summer on NCSY Summer Programs in Israel. Despite our success, a frequent objection to participation is the teens ineligibility to go on Birthright. Although you really can’t compare a 4-6 weeklong immersion in Israel as a high school student through a spiritual lens, thousands of teens have opted out of going to Israel as high schools students in the desperate hope of getting on Birthright. This lifting of the ban will go a long way towards increasing the amount of teens who visit Israel in the summer. We congratulate Birthright on this momentous decision and look forward to many more students joining The Jerusalem Journey – TJJ and our other trips.

    Rabbi Leib Irons
    Director of Education, NCSY Canada
    http://www.ncsysummer.com

  5. Wouldn’t it make sense to start subsidizing high school student trips- when youth are in their critical identity formative periods of their lives?
    See http://www.Lapid.org and
    http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/diaspora-high-schoolers-claim-their-birthright/

  6. (Thank you, Dave Neil.) While it’s true that it would absolutely make sense to start subsidizing high school student trips (not invent new ones that are subsidized, but subsidize excellent, already existing ones!), particularly when high school age youth are in their most critical identity formative periods of their lives — this development in Birthright eligibility is still HUGE NEWS which we all welcome with open arms, and it is a definite step in the right direction toward increasing participation in high school age programs to Israel, which was the central goal behind the Lapid Coalition’s foundation in the first place. (A battle well fought and an organization I am very proud to have taken leadership of for 5 years.) This is indeed a win-win for Lapid; for Birthright; for high school programs’ alumni aged 18-26 who are now eligible to return (numbering over 100,000!); for prospective high school program participants who no longer have to choose between 2 incredible opportunities; for Israel who benefits from the tourism and public image; for Israel education; for Israel-Diaspora relations and for the Jewish People at large. This can double the Israel engagement, putting into process the spiral effect rather than the one-shot approach of Israel engagement, which will only help strengthen Jewish identity and community around the world.
    I know that from where I am, at Alexander Muss High School in Israel, there is a buzz of excitement in the air since this announcement was made, as we now have over 6,000 very happy age-appropriate alumni, who are already beginning to plan their reunion trips together back to Israel!
    Sarah Vanunu

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