Birthright receives Health Ministry approval to resume trips to Israel, source confirms

Popular identity-building trip back on track, with safety precautions, amid record number of infections

First published in Jewish Insider

Birthright Israel has received approval from Israel’s Health Ministry to resume trips to the country, a spokesperson for the organization confirmed to Jewish Insider on Thursday.

The popular 10-day tours of Israel, which bring thousands of young Jewish adults from around the world to the country every year, were halted in August due to new restrictions put in place to curb the latest wave of COVID-19 in Israel. The measures, which went into effect last month as the Delta variant of the virus spread, barred quarantine-free entry to the country to individuals from a number of countries, including the United States.

Hundreds of young adults who were supposed to travel to Israel with Birthright in recent weeks had their trips canceled.

“We received an approval and we hope to resume trips in a safe way for vaccinated Jewish young adults soon,” a spokesperson for Birthright told JI. 

The Birthright Israel website assures those whose trips were canceled that they will receive priority status for a future trip.

The Health Ministry confirmed to JI that it had issued approval for “Birthright Israel delegations to come for educational activities in Israel, due to the value and educational importance of the trip.”

The ministry’s statement to JI stressed that entry into the country “is conditional on the participants being vaccinated and conducting a COVID-19 test upon arrival in the country.” It added that the groups will be allowed into Israel after the High Holidays.

The Birthright Israel regulations, available online, state that participants are required to be fully vaccinated with two or three shots of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and no more than a five-month gap between the last shot and the trip departure date. Alternatively, they may be fully vaccinated by one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine administered no more than five months before the trip departure date. Individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 must have received at least one FDA approved vaccine no more than five months before their trip departure date.

Israel hit a record on Wednesday, with the highest number of new infections recorded in one day. The number of serious cases, however, has declined this week for the first time since the Delta variant began spreading in Israel. Israel began a campaign to vaccinate its residents with a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine a month ago.