Birthright Summer ’09: Still Unanswered Questions

Michele Chabin in tomorrow’s New York Jewish Week:

Madoff Casts Shadow On Israel Trips

When the financial crisis hit the U.S. economy several months ago, some people criticized Birthright Israel’s policy of spending all its donations on free youth trips to Israel almost as soon as it receives it. Not having an endowment fund, the critics said, left the organization vulnerable to downturns in the economy.

This week, as the Bernard Madoff scandal unfolded and Jewish organizations rushed to assess what, if any damage, the mess had caused their endowment funds, the Birthright critics were mum. Not investing the money, it turns out, might have been a blessing for Birthright.

While Birthright officials say they are grateful to have been spared the fate of the Lappin and Chais Foundations, which had to shutter their doors after Madoff stole their investments, they admit that Birthright is still facing a daunting financial challenge.

eJP note: the Jewish Week story refers to a previous post on this blog. We stand behind the accuracy of our post that suspending 2009 summer trips was under discussion.