Birthright's annual gala event was held on Sunday evening, during which attendees marked 75 years since Israel's founding. President Isaac Herzog was in attendance, delivering a keynote address expressing his appreciation towards the Birthright organization (also known as Taglit) for its significant contributions to Israel's development.
Herzog began his speech by stating, “Tonight we are celebrating an impressive and truly amazing project that has brought together a million Jewish youth from the Diaspora. Each nation has deep-rooted aspects of their identity and character – and the Jewish people have a profound connection to their national home, the State of Israel.”
Highlighting the importance of connections fostered by Birthright, Herzog noted, “We know that Taglit has created imaginative connections among Jews from around the world, and between Jews and Israelis. This connection is tangible, immense, and profound. It helps build the crucial bond within the Jewish people, a small nation facing immense challenges both externally with many communities worldwide, and internally within its own nation-state, which itself faces numerous challenges. It is important to integrate the story of the Jewish people into the story of the State of Israel.”
A high demand for Birthright trips
In concluding his address, Herzog said, “I wish for all of us, that beyond conflicts or internal divisions, and despite the difficult challenges we face, to find strength and also to find encouragement and joy in Israel's 75th year. A project like Taglit breaks down barriers, lifts us up and helps us flourish, and connects us to the wonderful Jewish people living throughout the world. Thank you very much."
Birthright CEO Gidi Mark also addressed the event. He stated, “This year we see greater importance than ever in the annual Taglit gala event. We are experiencing unprecedented demand for registration, and in addition to the 25,000 participants who will come for tours in Israel by the end of the year, there is a waiting list of around 25,000 more young people whom we are unable to accommodate without additional resources.”
Mark added, “Taglit creates tens of thousands of ambassadors for the State of Israel every year, who continue to serve as a growing support network for Israel worldwide.”
Also present at the event was Dr. Miriam Adelson, wife of the late Sheldon Adelson who was a significant donor to Birthright, expressed her continued support for the project. She said, “The investment in Taglit is an investment in our children, grandchildren, and all future generations. My late husband Sheldon Adelson and I used to say that Taglit is the highest-yielding investment: the eternity of the Jewish people.
"Taglit has brought close to a million people here so far, and each one of them will say that Taglit has changed their lives, and each one of them is more determined to defend Israel. This is a path that needs to be nurtured, and the more people who walk on it, the better.”