Birthright Israel began with a bold idea—offering a free, life-changing trip to Israel to young Jewish adults between the ages of 18 and 26 and, in doing so, transforming the Jewish future.
Our mission is to give every Jewish young adult around the world, especially the unaffiliated, the opportunity to visit Israel.
Today, Birthright Israel is the largest educational tourism organization in the world.
Founded in 1999 by a remarkable group of committed Jewish philanthropists led by Charles Bronfman and Michael Steinhardt, Birthright Israel aims to strengthen Jewish identity, Jewish communities, and connection with Israel and its people.
The gift of a Birthright Israel trip is made possible thanks to the generous support of many sources, including the State of Israel, the program’s founders and other philanthropists, the Jewish Federation system and Keren Hayesod, the Jewish Agency for Israel, parents of trip participants, alumni of the program, and thousands of individuals donors from around the world who believe in our mission.
In North America, Birthright Israel Foundation raises the necessary funds thanks to 30,000+ donors each year, to ensure that Birthright Israel remains a gift to young Jewish adults for years to come. To learn more visit: BirthrightIsrael.Foundation.
Birthright Israel seeks to ensure the future of the Jewish people by strengthening Jewish identity, Jewish communities, and connection with Israel via a trip to Israel for the majority of Jewish young adults from around the world.
Our hope is that our trips motivate young people to continue to explore their Jewish identity and support for Israel and maintain long-lasting connections with the Israelis they meet on their trip. We encourage our alumni to take active roles in Jewish organizations and to participate in follow-up activities worldwide.
Since its inception in December 1999, Birthright Israel has sent over 500,000 Jewish young adults to Israel. They come from 66 countries, all 50 U.S. states and Canadian provinces, and nearly 1,000 North American colleges and universities.
Born out of a concern that assimilation was leading Diaspora Jewry away from engagement with Jewish life and the State of Israel, the program that began as an experiment has been extraordinarily successful; it is enhancing the vibrancy of Jewish life in countries around the globe.
Birthright Israel programs have contributed $1 billion to the Israeli economy, including 750,000 nights booked in hotel rooms, $76 million spent on gifts and souvenirs, and the creation of 750,000 workdays for Israelis. Through the Mifgash portion of Birthright Israel trips, over 80,000 young Israelis have connected with their Jewish peers from around the world and introduced them to an even more personal side of Israel. This has proven to be the most effective and transformative element in the Birthright Israel experience.
Since Birthright Israel’s inception, the Maurice and Marilyn Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies (CMJS) at Brandeis University has conducted rigorous research to evaluate the program and learn about its impact on the current generation of Jewish young adults. The evidence from the Brandeis studies indicates that participation in Birthright Israel positively alters participants’ trajectory of Jewish engagement and connection to Israel.
OUR EDUCATIONAL CORE
The Birthright Israel trip is a journey through both Jewish history and the contemporary Jewish state, accompanied by Israeli peers (“the Mifgash”) who join the trips as colleagues and friends. The Birthright Israel journey is committed to a culture of open discussion and dialogue about all issues: identity, geopolitics, religion, and Jewish life.
While trips are operated by different Trip Organizers such that each trip differs slightly, all trips focus on three core educational areas:
Narratives of the Jewish People – Participants visit a Jewish heritage site, a Zionist heritage site, a contemporary national heritage site, a “natural” heritage site, and a Shoah (Holocaust) heritage and learning site.
Contemporary Israel – Through visits to different organizations, institutions, and businesses, participants explore Israeli geopolitics, society, and statehood; arts and culture; and innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology.
Ideas and Values of the Jewish People – Group members celebrate Shabbat together, form a Kehilah (community) with mutual responsibility, and engage with Talmud-Torah and Beit Midrash and Hebrew as a living language.