Skip To Content

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe

Birthright by the Numbers

(JTA) — There may be no such thing as a free lunch. But there is a free 10-day trip to Israel.

For 16 years now, the Birthright Israel Foundation has been giving away guided tours of the country to young people from around the world. The goal is to strengthen participants’ Jewish identity and connection to Israel. Tens of thousands of 18-26 year-olds sign up every year to see the highlights with a group of peers.

Someone is paying for all those trips. But who?

Inside Philanthropy, a website that investigates charities, delves into the program’s funding in an article published Tuesday.

Here are some notable numbers from Inside Philanthropy and the Birthright Israel website. Birthright contested some of the numbers in the original Inside Philanthropy article and those changes are reflected below.

$3,000 – Average price of the trip, per person

$47 million – Birthright’s budget in 2015

45,000 – Total participants in 2015

$40 million – Annual contribution by the Israeli government

$50 million – Annual contribution by the organized international Jewish community, including individual donors and Jewish family foundations

30,000 – Number of non-governmental donors (individuals, foundations and institutions) who give to the program each year

$2.5 million – Top annual individual donation

7 – Number of Jewish family foundations who have contributed a million dollars or more in recent years

$200 million – Amount billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam Adelson, have donated since 2009, making them the biggest funders in the program’s history

$2.7 million – Amount raised last year by “direct marketing” initiatives

Over 500,000 – Total number of trip alumni

80,000 – Number of Israelis who have participated in the program

1999 – Year the program was founded

66 – Number of countries represented by participants


  • Events

    Haart to Haart


    Dec 7, 2022

    7 pm ET · 

    A conversation with Julia Haart and her son Shlomo, stars of Netflix's 'My Unorthodox Life,' about the new season and much more.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.