Matisyahu at Mega 58.
(photo credit: Joseph Pessar Photographers)
Celebrities, politicians and more than 1,000 alumni of Birthright Israel trips
were on hand Wednesday evening in New York City to watch Mayor Michael Bloomberg
declare the month of May Birthright Israel Month.
Guests at the
mega-event were treated to performances by Israeli world music star Idan Raichel
and Jewish-American hip hop artist Matisyahu.
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Zach Braff, playwright and
actor in the film Garden State and TV’s Scrubs, also addressed the
In presenting his proclamation of Birthright Israel Month,
Bloomberg said, “New York has always had a special bond with Israel and Jewish
No city has opened its doors more widely to the
world than we have, and thanks to Birthright Israel, thousands of New Yorkers
every year travel to Israel to reconnect with their
Celebrations for Birthright Israel Month, which commemorates
Taglit-Birthright sending nearly 300,000 Jews aged 18 to 26, post high-school,
who have neither traveled to Israel before on a peer educational trip or study
program nor have lived in Israel past the age of 12, to Israel in the past
decade, will occur across North America in synagogues and community
Taglit-Birthright is also using the special month to raise
awareness of its new goal of sending 51,000 Jewish participants to Israel each
year. If the organization hits its mark by 2013, it will have succeeded in
providing one in every two young North American Jews with a free trip to
The government recently pledged $100 million in funding over the
next three years to assist the organization in reaching that
“Increasing the budget is a historic decision – to bring the
majority of young Jewish people to Israel and enable every young Jewish person
that wants to come here to be able to do so,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
said when the funding was announced.