Try as they may, religion and politics have often played into Birthright Israel’s trips in ways not consistent with the organization’s vision. Birthright, like many other programs, has had to deal with the “who is a Jew” question to determine program eligibility. Now the question of Messianic Jews participating has become front-page news.
In a statement issued by Taglit-Birthright’s CEO, Gidi Mark, “…certain acts categorically separate individuals from what are agreed-upon parameters of Jewishness in this age.”
Good for them.
from Birthright Israel’s Website:
Eligible individuals are those recognized as Jewish by the Jewish community or by one of the recognized denominations of Judaism; or if either parent is Jewish AND the applicant does not actively practice another religion.
from The Jerusalem Post:
Trip organizers for Birthright have begun screening American candidates interested in free trips to Israel to prevent Messianic Jews from participating.
A questionnaire of a Birthright (Taglit) trip organizer that was obtained by The Jerusalem Post includes a question regarding applicants’ religious faith.
Under a category entitled “eligibility rules,” applicants are asked to declare that they are Jewish.
They are also asked to declare that “I do not subscribe to any beliefs or follow any practices which may be in any way associated with Messianic Judaism, Jews for Jesus or Hebrew Christians.”