Birthright's Second-Time Shift

Editorial

birthright

Published February 10, 2014, issue of February 14, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Here’s the current mission statement: “The gift of a trip to Israel from Taglit-Birthright Israel is designed to offer a first-time educational peer experience.” Not any more. The international leadership group in charge of Birthright has decided that the free, 10-day program can be a second-time educational experience, too.

This is a technical change with enormous implications. Those who ran high school programs had complained for years that parents were opting out of paying thousands of dollars because they hoped that their children would be able to go to Israel for free once they turned 18.

Problem is, experts believe the longer high school programs are far more effective in creating lasting attachments to Israel and Jewish life.

Birthright has no details yet about how the new policy will be implemented or funded, though it takes effect with registration opening February 19. What troubles us is the opaque decision-making process.

Birthright has evolved from the brainchild of a few philanthropists to a massive undertaking in which the Israeli government and Jewish communal groups provided 46% of its $121 million annual budget in 2012.

Surely there can be some mechanism for public discussion about how to allocate precious resources.

Should the funds for this expansion have gone instead to support high school programs? Will those young adults who receive two gifts to Israel be expected to do something for the Jewish people in return?

If subsidized travel to Israel is American Jewry’s response to the disengagement of its young, then its strategic direction ought to be more openly debated.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • This 007 hates guns, drives a Prius, and oh yeah — goes to shul with Scarlett Johansson's dad.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.