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Steinhardt, Birthright Israel, and “Common Judaism”

There’s an article in today’s New York Sun about Taglit-Birthright Israel’s multi-million dollar initiative to build on its program of sending young Jews on free 10-day trips to Israel. The program as it stands is a pretty remarkable thing. Birthright … Read More

By / October 3, 2007

There’s an article in today’s New York Sun about Taglit-Birthright Israel’s multi-million dollar initiative to build on its program of sending young Jews on free 10-day trips to Israel. The program as it stands is a pretty remarkable thing. Birthright Israel has sent almost 145,000 young adults to Israel since 2000. Here’s the new plan in a nutshell:

[T]he as-yet-unnamed initiative will build new, fully staffed Birthright Israel program offices in 17 American cities, where alumni would be able to choose from a menu of free subsidized programs including seminars, festivals, conferences, retreats, and trips back to Israel — or obtain seed grants to create programs of their own.

The idea is to extend the return traveler's excitement for Jewish life into their everyday world.

The post-trip rush of enthusiasm for Judaism has become legendary in Birthright Israel's seven short years. Studies by researchers at Brandeis University found that Birthright Israel participants are more likely to participate in Jewish events on their college campuses; more likely to want to learn Hebrew, and more likely to say they want to marry within the Jewish faith and raise Jewish children.

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