Adelson, Bronfman call on Jews to invest in Birthright Israel - exclusive

Dr. Miriam Adelson: "We will continue to be the largest donors of Birthright Israel."

Jewish youth from around the world take part in Birthright Israel's Mega Event (photo credit: EREZ OZIR)
Jewish youth from around the world take part in Birthright Israel's Mega Event
(photo credit: EREZ OZIR)

Philanthropists Dr. Miriam Adelson and Charles Bronfman addressed Birthright Israel Foundation’s board meeting on Tuesday, speaking of the need for increased support from the greater Jewish community.

They stressed the need for not only increased support from current donors but to educate and inspire new sources of support from the wider Jewish community to maximize the number of participants in Birthright Israel.

As published exclusively by The Jerusalem Post last week, Birthright Israel’s budget has been cut, causing the organization to slash by up to a third the number of participants it can take to Israel in 2023.

The Birthright Israel Foundation, the organization’s funding arm, told its largest donors it is confident it will be able to continue supporting Birthright Israel.

The foundation meeting came after months of discussing the need for additional funds due to inflation and higher travel costs.

Miriam Adelson at the inauguration of the US embassy in Jerusalem, May 14, 2018 (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)Miriam Adelson at the inauguration of the US embassy in Jerusalem, May 14, 2018 (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Calling on others to become "fellow investors" in Birthright Israel

Adelson and Bronfman called on people to be “fellow investors” in the organization that provides young Diaspora residents with 10-day trips to Israel.

In the board meeting, conducted by video-conference, Adelson assured Birthright Israel that she and her family “will remain the biggest donor” to the organization, reflecting “our proud and unswerving commitment” to it.

Birthright and the Adelson family contradicted reports suggesting they were unhappy with the project and pulling back their support as a result.

Miriam and her late husband, Sheldon Adelson, through the Adelson Family Foundation, “invested profoundly” by contributing nearly $500 million to Birthright Israel in the past 15 years. Now she says she is turning her attention to the Jewish community as a whole, encouraging “others to step up.”

Adelson said, “We are creating space for others to commit, to recommit or to increase their commitment. Birthright is not an Adelson family investment. It is an investment in us all, in our collective, communal future.”

“Birthright is not an Adelson family investment. It is an investment in us all, in our collective, communal future.”

Miriam Adelson

The family’s investment “has more than paid off,” and Birthright Israel “has delivered beyond all expectations in both quality and quantity, becoming the largest-scale educational project in Jewish history and transforming hundreds of thousands of lives,” she said.

Speaking from Palm Beach, Bronfman said, “Miri continues to believe in the program and continues to magnificently support it. She and I believe it is time for us to return to one of our early mantras about Birthright Israel: It is a gift of one generation of Jews to the next.” He added that they both believe all Jews “should bear responsibility for this gift” by donating.

Bronfman cited the Bible’s imposing on the Jews who left Egypt the financial commitment to build the Mishkan, the mobile Temple in the desert. “The challenge is not beyond us. It is calling out to us,” he said.

He cited recent findings published by the Pew Research Center that Birthright Israel participants were 58% more likely than their Jewish peers to “feel a lot in common” with Israelis, 54% more likely to “feel a great deal of belonging to the Jewish people” and 160% more likely to have a Jewish spouse. The findings demonstrate anew that Birthright Israel is “a strategic asset of historical proportions,” he said.

Adelson and Bronfman read to the board what they termed a “call to action” in the form of a joint statement: “At this crossroads in Birthright’s historic path, reaching the one millionth participant landmark deserves the support of the global Jewish community.

“We are all stakeholders. Every Jew who cares about our people, our story, our young generation, and our precious State of Israel should see Birthright as a crucial mission. Every Jewish organization and foundation should celebrate the privilege of being involved with Birthright.

“The sages tell us, “Kol yisrael arevim zeh la-zeh”: All Jews are responsible for one another. A success story like Birthright can continue, chapter after glorious chapter, as long as we all rally around it and share in this great vision for generations to come. Everyone should contribute according to his or her ability. Everyone has a role.”

Birthright Israel brought a record 35,000 Jewish young adults from around the world to the Jewish state in 2022, a number that could be reduced to 23,500 starting in 2023.