Some 200 events in communities and synagogues across North America during the month of May will mark Birthright Israel Month, which celebrates Taglit-Birthright Israel sending nearly 300,000 Jewish young adults on the ten day trip and raises awareness for its new goal of sending 51,000 participants annually – or one in every two young Jewish adults – beginning 2013.
Birthright Israel Month will be launched with a Mega Event in New York City on May 4, with over 1,000 alumni and 200 officials and guests expected to attend. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be issuing a formal proclamation declaring May 2011 as Birthright Israel Month.
The month will include events in cities across North America for Birthright Israel alumni, special Birthright Shabbat celebrations at more than 100 synagogues, visits to communities by IDF soldiers who participated in Birthright Israel trips and special donor functions. (For more information see birthrightisrael.org/month.)
Birthright Israel Month is also aimed at raising awareness of the new goal of increasing participant numbers – from 30,000 a year today, to 51,000 annually by 2013, almost doubling the number young adults going on the Taglit-Birthright Israel trip. Reaching this new level of participants would mean that one of every two young Jewish adults will be able to go on a Birthright Israel trip.
Significantly, the new participant goal will enable the tens of thousands of applicants who are currently waitlisted the opportunity to go to Israel. Last year, for the 30,000 young adults who participated in Taglit-Birthright Israel trips, another 30,000 were waitlisted because of lack of funding. For trips this summer from North America alone, there was a record registration of 40,000 for only 15,000 available slots.
The ambitious timeline to reach the 51,000 participant goal was precipitated by the announcement of Government of Israel in January that it would contribute $100 million to Taglit-Birthright Israel over the next three years. To match this commitment, the Israeli government expects a corresponding increase in funding from Birthright Israel’s partner organizations – the Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Agency for Israel – and from individual donors.
To meet its commitment, the Birthright Israel Foundation has announced an extremely ambitious financial goal: increasing its fundraising this year by $10 million to $58.6 million and then increasing it by an additional $20 million next year in order reach participant goal for 2013.