Inspired by Reform Judaism
As a project of the Union for Reform Judaism, you can be sure our trips embody values important to you – inclusiveness, open-minded thinking, and bold ideas. We welcome people from all backgrounds as part of a journey that is both meaningful and a true adventure.
An Open-Minded Approach
Traveling to Israel can be a deeply personal experience, and our itineraries are designed to both inspire and challenge you to ask more questions. More than just a comprehensive Israel tour, the URJ Kesher itinerary highlights innovative initiatives in Israel and connects you with young, forward-thinking leaders.
A Not-Profit Organization with a Focus on You
URJ Kesher is a not-for-profit organization with a proud tradition of reliably serving the Jewish world since 1873. Our singular focus is to provide you with an extraordinary Birthright Israel experience that you will not regret.
Making a Deeper Connection in Israel
The word Kesher is Hebrew for “connection,” and joining our experience is about connecting with Israel on a more meaningful level. Kesher’s specially designed itinerary isn’t just a collection of sites and tours, but a chronological journey through the land, people, and history of Israel. You’ll experience the 3000-year story of the Jewish People where it happened and how it happened.
URJ Kesher is a project of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) – the umbrella organization for Reform Jews. Founded in 1873, the URJ’s approach unites thousands of years of Jewish tradition with modern Jewish experience to strengthen Judaism today and for future generations. URJ programs champion the values of Tikkun Olam (repairing the world), inclusiveness, open-minded thinking, and community building.
In addition to Birthright Israel experiences, the Union for Reform Judaism is also responsible for NFTY, URJ Camps, and many other innovative Jewish experiences for all ages.
The Reform Movement believes that a fundamental aspect of a healthy Jewish identity is a relationship to Eretz Yisrael (the land of Israel) and optimally a love for Eretz Yisrael. Based on this belief, the Birthright Israel: KESHER Israel Connection program provides participants with an opportunity to travel the land of Israel and connect with the people of Israel, all within a uniquely Reform/Progressive ideological context. Examining issues such as social justice, a commitment to pluralism in Israel and the Diaspora, and our personal connection with historical and modern Israel through hands-on activity and discussion, participants will find a variety of ways to explore their own Jewish identity. Visits to historical sites, a mifgash with Israeli young adults, liberal worship experiences, social outings, and educational programming provide a transformative experience and open a dialogue for participants to discuss their relationship with Israel.
The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) provides vision, direction and leadership to Reform Jews and congregations on spiritual, ethical, social justice and management issues, offering programming support to Reform Jewish congregations and strengthening individual Jewish identity and growth.
As a member of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, the Union connects Reform Jews in North America with Liberal/Progressive/Reform congregations around the globe. The Union also represents Reform congregations in regional, North American and international organizations that includes the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.
The URJ KESHER Trip is the Birthright Israel program run by the Israel Education Department of the Union for Reform Judaism in cooperation with the KESHER department. KESHER, which is also the Hebrew word for “connection”, connects Jewish young adults to each other and to the Reform Movement in order to promote continuous engagement in Jewish life.
The Trip Staff Team
Staff on URJ KESHER trips are qualified and experienced, with strong backgrounds in informal Jewish and Israel Education. Our staff embodies a spirit of inclusiveness, tolerance, and progressive thinking. They are often Youth Workers from congregations across North America, members of the senior staff at URJ Camps, or other Jewish communal professionals. We tend to hire staff that are in their mid-20s to 30s, as we want our participants to connect with their trip staff on a personal level. Working together with our North American staff, our Israeli Tour Guide-Educators are one of the hallmarks of our trips. Highly qualified and engaging, each season they continue to share their love and knowledge of Israel with our groups, bringing a uniquely Israeli perspective to all aspects of the trip. As one of the original Birthright Israel providers, many of our Israeli Guides have been working with us since 1999, and have a deep appreciation and understanding for our shared goals and mission. Participants can look forward to making lasting friendships with their guide and trip staff for years to come.