Taglit-birthright Israel will mark its 10-year anniversary next week with a three-day event in which 3,000 young Jews from 10 foreign countries will travel to 18 cities across Israel, from Kiryat Shmona to Beersheba.
At each stop the youth will meet with residents, past birthright staff, political leaders, communal leaders and hi-tech moguls.
The El Israel event, which will take place next Monday through Wednesday, is meant to expose Diaspora youth to the many faces of Israeli society and culture from an intimate perspective, instead of just the museums and historical sites. Events include a 700-person bike ride in Tel Aviv with young hi-tech employees, a visit to students and residents of Sderot, a Jewish music event in Safed, an army hike with soldiers, and a visit to a recycling center in Beersheba.
The trip will culminate in Jerusalem on Jerusalem Day, when some of the young people will participate in the annual march to the Western Wall, and later all will meet for Taglit-birthright’s annual “mega-event.”
“Taglit-birthright Israel serves as the main bridge between Jewish youth and the State of Israel and it is Taglit-birthright Israel’s goal to deepen the relationship between Israeli society and the Jewish world,” Ada Spitzer, marketing VP for Taglit-birthright, said in a statement on Wednesday. “The quarter of a million Taglit-birthright Israel alumni and their home communities play a strategic role ensuring a strong connection between Israel and world Jewry.”
Taglit-birthright was founded to bring Jews ages 18-26 from all over the world to Israel. Over the past decade, Taglit-birthright has brought more than 250,000 youths from over 50 countries, and has created real change in how they view their Jewish identity.
According to a study conducted by Brandeis University in 2009,
Taglit-birthright has succeeded in reinforcing Jewish identity,
strengthening ties to Israel, decreasing intermarriage, and increasing
pro-Israel activism on college campuses across the US.
In addition to the 30,000 participants from abroad each year, IDF
soldiers accompany the trips and get to know the Diaspora youth. To
date, 40,000 soldiers have taken part in Taglit-birthright tours. An
overwhelming majority of the soldiers in the study said their
participation in Taglit-birthright greatly influenced them toward
remaining in Israel, heightened their pride in serving in the IDF, and
strengthened their Jewish identity.
Taglit-birthright has also generated an estimated NIS 2.3 billion for Israel’s economy over the last decade.