Jerusalem, May 15, 2012 – Six groups of exhausted Birthright Israel participants walked out of Ben Gurion arrivals terminal to the sound of beating drums, singing IDF soldiers and the welcoming call of the Shofar being blown. The drummers then led the group of 250 young Jews as they made their way to an open area outside the airport terminal where a brief welcome ceremony took place.

Each group of participants will share their experience with four to six Israeli soldiers, who are part of the Mifgash (Encounter) program. These were the soldiers who sang songs of welcome on the groups’ arrival.

This season, Taglit-Birthright Israel will host about 26 special niche groups in addition to the regular trips, including a “Shakespeare in Israel” group for writers; a “Sound of Music” group for musicians and singers; a culinary group for food lovers and professional chefs; and various groups that have special needs.

There will be 23,000 participants from 25 different countries arriving throughout the summer 2012 season, which began at the end of April 2012.

photo credit: Erez Uzir