Back in January 2014, in a widely circulated and commented upon post, American-Israeli Benji Lovitt wrote, “From synagogue and organization missions to MASA programs, and from high school trips to Birthright, we do a horrendous job of exposing Diaspora Jews to Tel Aviv and everything it stands for: modern Israel, the “start-up nation,” religious pluralism, and Jewish peoplehood.” (See “Israel Programs: The Case for Tel Aviv“)
The post garnered thousands upon thousands of page views; spurred numerous submissions in response, including from Taglit’s Dr. Zohar Raviv who responded, “97 percent of our tour groups spent at least one night in Tel Aviv.”
Birthright, to their credit, apparently took Lovitt’s and many other commenters’ critiques to heart and last week premiered Birthright Israel Tel Aviv Week.
For four days 5000 participants experienced the central role Tel Aviv plays in shaping modern Israeli society and the impact it has had on the larger global community. The participants explored the fields of high-tech, fashion, culinary, art, dance, music, theater, photography and the energy that Tel Aviv has to offer.
Every day of the week, participants attended a number of different activities: an improvisation workshop at the Habima National Theatre with Mayumana, meeting with leading personas in the startup, fashion, culinary and media world, enjoying Gordon Beach with watermelon, volleyball and backgammon, attending a dance workshop at Suzan Dellal Center, discovering Israeli food at the Carmel Market and more!
In the evening, the participants came together for musical performances by the popular Israeli band Hatikvah 6 and Muki at Hatachana Station.
Birthright plans to make Tel Aviv Week an annual event. But we wonder, why are only 5000 of this year’s 30,000 participants able to take advantage of this important addition to the Birthright program?