Around 3,000 participants on Taglit-Birthright’s summer programs attended the organization’s “Mega- Event,” on Thursday night on the campus of Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, the second of two such parties this summer.
The festivities were hosted by actor and singer-songwriter Michael Harpaz and featured addresses from Taglit-Birthright CEO Gidi Mark, the IDF’s chief education officer, Brig.- Gen. Eli Shermeister, and a speech from Dave Goodman, a Canadian Birthright alumnus who raised $700,000 for Israeli causes after participating in a Birthright tour.
Israeli singer-songwriter Avraham Tal capped off the revelry with a live performance.
Taglit-Birthright will bring approximately 20,000 young Diaspora Jews to Israel this summer.
Since the organization’s inception in 2000, it has brought more than 300,000 people here, from more than 50 countries around the world, who had not previously participated in an organized Israel group tour.
Dave Goodman, 29, went on a Birthright trip in 2006 and returned to Canada determined to use his professional skills as a marketing supervisor to raise money for charitable causes in Israel.
“Working for major cooperate brands as I was at the time just didn’t seem as important as the history of my people and the history of the new Jewish state once I got back to Toronto,” he said during his speech. “The incredible story of the Jewish people, its resilience and success was much more interesting to me than the story of cooperate brands.”
Upon returning to Canada, Goodman initiated a series of fundraising events for different Israeli charitable causes, including a basketball tournament called Hoops 4 Israel, which raised an initial $100,000, and in five subsequent tournaments, collected over half a million dollars for Ethiopian youth in the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood of Rehovot and for Bat Yam, a partner community of the UJA Federation of Toronto.
Goodman eventually quit his marketing job and began working for
Birthright while continuing to raise money for Israeli and Jewish
“Community volunteer time from Birthright alumni has reached 900,000
hours and we’re seeing a real transformation,” Goodman said of the
follow- up network Birthright has established for alumni of its summer
tours. “It’s become trendy to do volunteer work, to give more of
yourself than you would to your own personal goals and accomplishments.
“Our parents and grandparents are concerned about the ability of the new
generation to take over and lead the Jewish community, but the current
trends and activities show that we can take the lead and I’m encouraged
by what’s going on. I think you’d have to be naïve to think that
Birthright is not responsible in part for this kind of activism around