Happy Jerusalem Day!

May every young Jew from across the world may have the opportunity to visit the capital and build a special, personal bond with it.

By GIDI MARK
May 7, 2013 21:38
1 minute read.
There are approximately 500 households in the Jewish Quarter.

Jewish Quater in the Old City of Jerusalem, 521. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/ The Jerusalem Post)

I was 11 years old when the IDF reunified the Old City of Jerusalem.

A short while afterwards, I was given the opportunity to visit the old city, a visit that strengthened my relationship and connected me to my history.

Though I do not reside in Jerusalem, from the very moment I stepped foot on the stone path toward the Western Wall, the capital of Israel resides within me.

As a Jew, an Israeli and as the CEO of Taglit- Birthright Israel, I have no doubt that we have a tremendous responsibility to ensure that all young Jews feel as proud of their heritage and hold a special connection to Israel as a whole and to the Jewish capital, Jerusalem, in particular.

Moreover, I feel such fulfillment, especially on Jerusalem Day, knowing that each and every one of the 340,000 Taglit- Birthright Israel participants visited and spent time exploring the city.

Participants discovered Jerusalem and journeyed throughout country on a 10-day educational tour of a lifetime. While many participants have said the program changed their lives, it is equally significant to mention that over 60,000 Israeli young adults, accompanying the participants, saw the glimmer in the eyes of those who visited the city for the first time. I see how the educational trip reignites a spark in the Israelis’ passion and perception of their capital.

Israeli bystanders also see the awe felt by all the young participants from Brazil, Hungary, the USA and around the world as they step on the ancient stones of the Jewish capital.

However, what is perhaps not known to them is that the experience of the Taglit-Birthright Israel 10-day educational trip strengthens their Jewish identity and increases the chance of them marrying a Jew by 46 percent, and that the program has contributed over NIS 840 million to the city of Jerusalem and NIS 3 billion to the Israeli economy.

As Jerusalem Day approaches, I would like to wish the capital of the Jewish people a blessing that every young Jew from across the world may have the opportunity to visit the capital and build a special, personal bond with it.

The writer is the CEO of Taglit Birthright Israel.


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