Casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, donated $40 million to the Birthright Israel Foundation.
Now entering its 13th year, Taglit-Birthright Israel’s goal is to strengthen the Jewish identity of its participants and their connection to Israel. Yet the popular program also has provided a platform for untold numbers of young singles to form lasting, loving partnerships.
With the summer travel season fast approaching, providers of Israel programs for teenagers are bracing themselves for what several say could be a season of historically low travel in a year unaffected by major security concerns.
Sheldon Adelson, a major benefactor of Jewish and Israeli causes, will face courtroom cameras in an upcoming trial despite safety concerns based on his views on Israel.
Registration began this week for Taglit-Birthright Israel, the program offering free 10-day trips to Israel for Jews ages 18-26 that was created to connect young people to their heritage. This year, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles is co-sponsoring a variety of opportunities: With nine trips and room for 40 people on each, there are 360 spaces available, however many trips fill up quickly.
Since its inaugural trip in the winter of 2000, more than 340,000 participants ages 18-26 have traveled to Israel for the first time through Taglit-Birthright Israel. The 10-day excursions have attracted people from 62 countries, bringing together Jews from virtually every cultural and socio-economic background in the Diaspora.
Moledet means “homeland” in Hebrew, and it’s no coincidence that it’s been chosen as the name of a pilot program aimed at maintaining the passion of recent Los Angeles Birthright alumni following their return home from Israel.
Five Los Angeles teenagers have been awarded $40,000 in college scholarships as part of the inaugural Brawerman Fellowship of the Geri and Richard Brawerman Leadership Institute. The fellows, who applied for the scholarships through The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, will receive their scholarship in four annual installments and will participate in a Birthright trip, several Shabbatons and four weeks of community service projects each summer.
The participants gather outside the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem’s old city for a group photo. They look like any group of college students visiting Jerusalem on a summer trip. The photographer counts to three. “Free Palestine!” they yell in unison, and laugh.
I’m a normal Jew. When I dream, I dream of Israel. When I have nightmares, I have nightmares of Germany.
A record number of participants in the Birthright Israel program arrived in Israel on one day.
Israel's prime minister called on participants in the Birthright Israel program to become advocates to for Israel when they return home.
Sheldon and Miriam Adelson are contributing an additional $5 million to Birthright Israel, which the organization says will move 2,000 applicants from waitlisted to traveling this winter.
On the last day of a Birthright alumni mission to Israel last year, participants got a taste of something that was not a part of their initial trip to Israel: a fundraising pitch.
Philanthropists Sheldon and Miriam Adelson are giving a $5 million matching grant to Taglit-Birthright Israel.
Does Taglit-Birthright Israel have a political agenda? Questions about Birthright’s content have come to the fore, magnified by intense debate about Israel and, perhaps, as a consequence of the program becoming a rite of passage for Diaspora young adults. The questions are not new, and from the time the first planeload of participants landed in Israel, observers have been looking for the political agenda. But political agendas are more in the mind of the spectators than a part of the program itself.
The impact of a Taglit-Birthright experience is significant and lasts for years, according to a new study. Participants in the 10-day Israel trips are more confident advocates for Israel, are more likely to feel very connected to Israel, and are 51 percent more likely to marry a Jew than their peers who applied for but did not go on a Birthright trip.
Birthright Israel received a record-breaking number of North American applicants for its free, ten-day trip to Israel. The organization, which provides all-expense-paid trips to Israel for Diaspora Jews aged 18 to 26, received 40,108 applicants during the seven-day registration period ending Tuesday.
Storahtelling has tapped former Birthright NEXT executive Isaac Shalev to become its next executive director. Isaac Shalev, who helped launched Birthright NEXT and served as COO to the official follow-up program for Birthright Israel, will assume his new post on Feb. 15.
Birthright Israel has launched an effort to reclaim the word Zionism from Israel's detractors. The effort, launched last week in New York with speeches by Israeli U.S. Ambassador Michael Oren and Birthright funder Michael Steinhardt, drew several hundred alumni of Birthright Israel, the philanthropic effort that has brought hundreds of thousands of young Diaspora Jews on free trips to the Jewish state.
Birthright Israel has rejected a proposed partnership trip with J Street, saying it no longer works with organizations with Israel-related political leanings. J Street had begun promoting the trip last week being organized by its campus arm, J Street U, in cooperation with Israel Experience, one of several tour providers used by Birthright. But Birthright said it nixed the idea for a J Street trip focusing on progressivism and social action when it was first presented months ago.
A New Jersey man who assaulted a fellow Birthright Israel participant was sentenced to time served and community service. Jonathan Haft, 25, was convicted Monday in Israel of aggravated assault for attacking Sherry Kestenbaum, 23, also of New Jersey, last May. He was sentenced to to 2 1/2 months in prison and six months of community service. The prison time has already been served. Haft also was ordered to pay Kestenbaum about $55,000 in compensation, according to The Jerusalem Post.
Israel's government announced it would more than double its investment in the popular Birthright Israel program. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the announcement Thursday night before 3,000 program participants in Jerusalem, The Jerusalem Post reported. "My government will give more than double its investment in Birthright, and over the next few years we will invest more than $100 million in Birthright," said Netanyahu, according to the Post. "Together with private donations we can increase the number of people to 50,000 a year."
So you’ve used up your free ride to the Jewish state through Taglit-Birthright Israel and you want to go back. Maybe you miss careening down the Jordan River or those warm nights strolling down the Tayelet Haas Promenade in Tel Aviv, or you want to spend more time exploring the Old City in Jerusalem.
Once you start looking for packages, however, it’s not unusual to encounter sticker shock: the average 10-day visit to Israel runs about $3,000, according to Israel’s Tourism Ministry. That cost can leave many young professionals feeling priced out of a return trip.
Participation in Taglit-Birthright Israel trips this summer has doubled from the summer of 2009, the group said.
Around a dozen participants on a 'Birthright Israel' trip contracted swine flu during their tour of Israel and were put under quarantine, Israeli media reported on Tuesday.
Nearly 160,000 young Jews from North America have taken part in Taglit-Birthright Israel, a 10-day free Israel trip aimed at revving up their Jewish identities.
The candidates reach out and apologize in the Rosh Hashanah tradition, blow a shofar, interrupt, smile, joke and yell, just like your family!
Three Jewish teenagers were attacked in the same Paris district where another Jewish teen was beaten severely in June.
The latest pledge consists of a $20 million contribution for 2009 and $10 million for 2010, said Michael Bohnen, president of the Adelson Foundation, in a news release Tuesday announcing the gift.
" . . .A single written word can be a very powerful tool in educating and liberating, but it can do quite the opposite as well. . . ."
Jenny Meyer was feeling guilty, and she was willing to use that guilt to get what she wanted -- a free trip to Israel for her parents
Birthright's success in awakening a connection to Jewish heritage and Israel is unprecedented in American Jewish life. The number of alumni continues to multiply and their enthusiasm is infusing new energy into American Jewry
" . . . It is wishful thinking by the writer that Obama's chance to be president has been torpedoed by his past association with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. McCain and the writer want us to focus on this guilt by association nonissue, rather than on Obama's own actions and words and the terrible political and economic conditions our beloved country has fallen into under the Bush/Cheney regime . . ."
Last Sunday night in an amphitheatre outside Jerusalem, I had a flash of insight into how to get disaffected Jews excited and involved in Jewish life: Make it free!
A musical New Year's greeting from the Rosh HaShanah Girl and Taglit-birthright-israel
Here's all we know: A wacky college student on a Taglit-birthright trip to Israel found a kindred spirit at the flea market in Jaffa . . .
Birthright Israel has received many more applications for its upcoming trips than it has spaces available. Approximately 14,000 young Jews applied for 8,000 spots in the program's spring/summer trips this year in just the first 12 hours of registration Feb. 8.
When Vicki Kaplan's Birthright Israel trip finished, the Los Angeles native wasn't sure what she wanted to do. Kaplan definitely wanted to stay longer in Israel, so she extended her ticket, but the politically active college student wasn't sure where she should take her activism.
Since the program began, it has brought some 60,000 Diaspora youth between the ages of 18 and 26 to Israel for free 10-day guided trips of the country. For many, it is their first trip to Israel. Only youth who never before have been on a peer tour of the country are eligible to participate.
Rhonda Van Hassalt's concerned father offered her $1,000 not to go to Israel. Although the money would have been enough to send both Van Hassalt's and her boyfriend to Europe for winter break, it wasn't Europe that was tugging at her heart -- it was Israel.
Birthright Israel hopes to send 1,000 participants this winter despite violence in the Middle East.
Birthright is an umbrella organization which is the result of a partnership between the Israeli people and government, local Jewish communities, and leading Jewish philanthropists. It provides funding for the trip and sets up the basic guidelines, such as standards and security policies.
Last year, when philanthropists Michael Steinhardt and Charles Bronfman decided to give the gift of Israel to thousands of young Jews, skeptics wondered whether there would be any takers.
The old-time Zionist religion had it that the only good Diaspora Jew was the one who made aliyah and settled in the ancestral land.