Birthright Celebrates a Milestone

By Joshua Yaffa

Published June 02, 2006, issue of June 02, 2006.
  • Print
  • Share Share

On Monday, June 5, Stephanie Lowenthal will embark on a trip taken by 99,999 others before her: a 10-day tour of Israel that is paid for by Taglit–Birthright Israel, a philanthropic organization that sponsors excursions throughout the Holy Land for young Diaspora Jews.

Lowenthal — who works in corporate communications for the Nasdaq stock exchange — was introduced as the six-year old organization’s 100,000th participant earlier this week at the Israeli Consulate in New York.

“What a wonderful opportunity to experience Israel in such a unique way,” she said of the Birthright program, which annually brings more than 12,000 Jews between the ages of 18 and 26 to Israel for cultural and religious-themed group trips.

In a conversation with the Forward, Lowenthal, who never visited Israel before, expressed great anticipation regarding her trip, which will include stops at the Dead Sea, the Negev, and the Western Wall, as well as an informal mifgash (meeting) at which travelers will interact with their Israeli peers.

“To see these sights that I learned about in Hebrew school with other Jews that are going through the same thing — that’s pretty special,” she said. Lowenthal’s winning smile and background in media relations certainly won’t stand in the way of her becoming an informal ambassador for the birthright program, which in many circles is known as much for its matchmaking potential as for its cultural programming. But Lowenthal, who is in a relationship, said that she is not looking for love.

Philanthropist Michael Steinhardt, co-founder of Taglit-Birthright Israel, spoke about the lasting influence of the program, mentioning that “nearly all young leaders of Jewish organizations today are birthright graduates.”

In fact, according to Steinhardt, one of Birthright Israel’s most pressing concerns is “lessening the backlog of young people who want to go on the program who we can not accommodate due to lack of funds.” For this coming summer, the program received 15,000 more applicants than they are able to accommodate.

“Right now I’m just most excited to land,” said Lowenthal, who leaves for Israel Monday. “I’m expecting to feel right at home.”

Find us on Facebook!
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach!
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • The real heroines of Passover prep aren't even Jewish. But the holiday couldn't happen without them.
  • Is Handel’s ‘Messiah’ an anti-Semitic screed?
  • Meet the Master of the Matzo Ball.
  • Pierre Dulaine wants to do in his hometown of Jaffa what he did for kids in Manhattan: teach them to dance.
  • "The first time I met Mick Jagger, I said, 'Those are the tackiest shoes I’ve ever seen.'” Jewish music journalist Lisa Robinson remembers the glory days of rock in her new book, "There Goes Gravity."
  • 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.