MICHAEL STEINHARDT, accompanied by his wife, Judy, bids farewell to summer Birthright participants at a ceremony honoring him at Hebrew University yesterday. .
(photo credit: LIA KAMANA)
After 15-years of living out his vision of bringing young Jews to Israel, Michael Steinhardt will be Stepping down from his post as Co-Chairman of Taglit to partner with Charles Bronfman, yet will continue to remain active in the program.
Over a span of 14 years, more than 400,000 young Jews from 66 countries have made the journey to Israel with the help of Steinhardt and co-founder Bronfman.
“If it wasn’t for Michael I wouldn’t be here and none of you would be either,” said Bronfman to a crowd of about 1,000 summer birthright participants at a ceremony honoring him at Hebrew University on June 11.
Taglit-Birthright Israel was created to make a trip to Israel part of the education for every young Jew in an effort to establish a relationship between Israelis and Jews living around the world, according to the Taglit-Birthright website.
“It [Birthright] is mainly a personal journey between a man and his family, his country and the story of his life,” said Finance Minister Yair Lapid.
Steinhardt, a Brooklyn, NY native, retired from Wall Street when he was 54-years-old and “never looked back,” said his wife Judy Steinhardt. She said her husband founded the program to help secular Jews remain Jewish. “He forged ahead and all of you are a living legacy,” she said.
At the ceremony speeches, performances and videos were presented in Steinhardt’s honor.
An address by Steinhardt ended the formal ceremony before leaving the participants to celebrate the ending of their 10-day journey.
“What really matters is the spirit and here no one matches birthright,” said Steinhardt in his final words to the crowd.