NYC's Bloomberg declares May 'Birthright Israel Month'

1,000 Birthright alumni enjoy concert by Matisyahu in celebration of new gov't funding, goal of sending one in two young Jews to Israel by 2013.

Matisyahu at Mega 58 (photo credit: Joseph Pessar Photographers)
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 crowd.
In presenting his proclamation of Birthright Israel Month, Bloomberg said, “New York has always had a special bond with Israel and Jewish communities worldwide.
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 heritage.”
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 centers.
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 Israel.
The government recently pledged $100 million in funding over the next three years to assist the organization in reaching that goal.
“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.