The gift of a trip to Israel from Birthright Israel is designed to offer an educational peer experience. As such, while the trip is available to young Jews all over the world and from various backgrounds, there are guidelines for eligibility.
All participants must be between 18 and 26 and have finished high school by the time their trip departs. If you are turning 27 prior to May 1 for summer trips, or December 1 for winter trips, you are not eligible to participate in the upcoming round of trips.
*Those applying from the UK must be between 20-26 years of age.
Eligible individuals are those who identify as Jewish and are recognized as such by their local community or by one of the recognized denominations of Judaism. Applicants must also have at least one Jewish birth parent, or have completed Jewish conversion through a recognized Jewish denomination.
*Those applying for trips leaving from the Former Soviet Union are eligible if they have at least one Jewish birth grandparent. The accuracy of information pertaining to the heritage of an applicant for a trip leaving from the Former Soviet Union is also verified by a local Consul before an applicant is considered eligible.
Previous Israel Experience
If you have been to Israel before but only with your family or on other personal business, you are still eligible.
You are not eligible if you have been to Israel for more than three months since the age of 12. You are also not eligible if you were in Israel as part of a touring group, educational program, study program or an organized extended residential program since you were 18 years of age or older.
There are a few programs such as volunteering for Magen David Adom, participating in the Maccabiah games and Federation missions that do not affect your eligibility.
If you were born in Israel or are an Israeli citizen you are only eligible if you left Israel before the age of 12. If you have served in the Israeli Army or volunteered on an Israel Army base after the age of 18, you are not eligible.
If you were born in Israel or have ever held Israeli citizenship or have held an Israeli passport you are not eligible unless you prove by official documentation that you left Israel before the age of 12. If you are accepted to the program you will need to obtain army exemption papers from your local Israeli consulate.
Jewish Studies Students
Students in exclusively Jewish Studies programs in any institute of higher learning, including Jewish teacher training programs, Jewish Studies Programs (not including Jewish Studies major or minor candidates at secular institutions), rabbinical programs, yeshivot/seminaries, Jewish communal service programs and the like are not eligible for the Birthright Israel gift while they are still in the study program.