Last week, the Jewish community in Argentina marked a decade of Taglit-Birthright Israel with a series of events. At the Carla-Ray Gallery in Buenos Aires a unique art exhibition was opened, inspired by Taglit-Birthright Israel and as a tribute to the project. The event was attended by the Israeli Ambassador to Argentina, Mr. Daniel Gazit and the Vice President of Marketing and Development of Taglit-Birthright Israel, Prof. Ada Spitzer.

To celebrate its tenth anniversary, Taglit-Birthright Israel initiated this unique project in Argentina, combining social responsibility and art. A group of students from the ORT Jewish High School in Buenos Aires created models of aircraft made of wood. The exhibition is also a collaboration between dozens of leading Argentine artists, both Jews and non-Jews. Their inspiration was the idea, “The desire to identify”, as expressed on Taglit-Birthright Israel trips. The aircraft represent the trip to Israel and the participants’ experience of discovering their identity that takes place during their stay in Israel. The exhibition has also received the support of the Buenos Aires city government.

In related news the Ecumenical Social Forum in Buenos Aires announced its award to Taglit-Birthright Israel of the Cultural prize for social entrepreneurship for the painted aircraft project. The prestigious prize acknowledges initiatives aimed at improving community life and encouraging community solidarity. The prize committee bestows the award according to various criteria, including creativity, impact and effectiveness and measurable results. This is the ninth year of the awards, and since their inception eight years ago, the Ecumencial Social Forum has awarded more than 800 social projects created by companies (including giants such as Coca – Cola and McDonald’s) and leading organizations in Argentina.

Prof. Ada Spitzer, said: “The Jewish community in Argentina is facing a sharp rise in assimilation, estimated at about 70%. In its early days, Taglit-Birthright Israel made its ultimate goal the retention of the existence of the Jewish people. We aim to deepen the connection to the Jewish community throughout Argentina and the Diaspora as a whole, to enable young Jews to reconnect with their identity, the State of Israel and the community in which they live.

In Argentina, we receive about 4,000 applications each year from people who wish to participate in Taglit-Birthright Israel trips. Unfortunately only about 1,000 of them can go on a trip owing to existing budget constraints. With the beginning of the second decade of Taglit-Birthright Israel, the clear and enormous challenge before us is to attract and increase the number of young Jews from around the world that take a trip to Israel with us. To do this, we are working diligently to raise funds among philanthropists in Jewish communities. We will see that the majority of young Jews in the world can come to get to know Israel and connect with their Jewish identity through our educational trip.”