Birthright Israel gears up for the summer season

June 27, 2019 by Hayley Hadassin
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With the support of Gandel Philanthropy its principal Australian partner of eight years, the Zionist Federation of Australia will send 160 young Australians, of which Gandel Philanthropy supports 80, on a 10-day special trip to Israel.

Sydney AUJS group

Taglit-Birthright Israel is a visionary program that provides the gift of an educational tour to Israel for young Jewish adults aged 18-26.

It offers a unique opportunity to learn about their Jewish heritage, to connect them to Israel in a real and meaningful way and to foster their Jewish identity and bond to their own communities. The Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA) is proud to be the Australian partner of Taglit Birthright Israel, managing the process and sending more than 300 young adults per year on this remarkable program.

Excited participants met for the first time at pre-departure sessions in Sydney and Melbourne. Each of the groups will include 40 Australian participants and will be joined for part of the trip by eight Israeli peers; adding a dimension of personal, relevant connection.

Two of these groups run through the ZFA’s Hagshama have been generously supported by Gandel Philanthropy the principal Australian supporter of Taglit-Birthright Israel. The generosity of Gandel Philanthropy since 2012 has enabled over 1000 young adults, many of whom were previously unaffiliated with the Australian Jewish community and had never visited Israel, to experience this life-changing program. The other two groups preparing to depart in July are led by AUJS, which through Birthright provides Jewish students a unique opportunity to connect with their Judaism and with Israel in this most intensive and direct way.

ZFA group

“As Principal Supporter, Gandel Philanthropy is very proud that again this July, 80 young adults will be afforded the opportunity to participate in the life-changing Taglit-Birthright program.  Many of these young adults are largely unaffiliated with the Australian Jewish community and have never visited Israel. I was very pleased to be present at the Melbourne Taglit pre-departure session and meet with a number of the very excited participants,” said Nicole Brittain, Grant Manager – Jewish and Israel Programs, Gandel Philanthropy.

Ben Janover is a Madrich (leader) who will be leading one of the Australian groups in July. He said: “I have no doubt that the participants will have a great time. The group is intelligent, dynamic and really eager to dive into all that Birthright will offer them. The best part is seeing how it’ll all unfold over the 10 days.”

Research conducted by the Cohen Center of Brandies University indicates that 72% of Taglit-Birthright Israel participants marry someone Jewish compared with 51% of non-participants. Taglit participants are 35% more likely than non-participants to feel confident in explaining the situation in Israel. It is remarkable that a 10-day trip to Israel can change not only a person’s future but that of the Jewish people.

Taglit-Birthright Israel at first glance may be seen as a fun, free trip for young adults to travel and experience a foreign country. However, it’s so much more than that– it is a gift from the Jewish world to the young generation. Through Taglit-Birthright Israel, 18-26-year-olds have an opportunity to connect to the State of Israel, to discover the country in all its complexities and to develop their personal identification with the state. They emerge with friends they would otherwise never have met, they experience a shared history and most importantly they make Israel a part of their present and their future.

Melbourne Hagshama Group

Professor Gil Troy, Chair of Birthright Israel’s international education committee commented in a recent article 2019 ‘The Real Birthright: Inheriting our Jewish Story’ The Jerusalem Post June 19:

“Birthright Israel works well, because – surprise! – It’s countercultural. It’s insight-seeking, not sightseeing; it’s non-partisan in a highly politicized age, it’s about community-building, emphasizing the “our” in tourism, not just the “I”; and it’s open and welcoming not authoritarian and programmatic.”

Since its inception in 2000, more than 700,000 young Jews from 68 countries around the world and more than 100,000 young Israelis have taken part in the Taglit-Birthright Israel program.

Every year, approximately 300 participants from all around Australia enjoy this experience. Over 5500 Australians have already participated in this program, of which 4200 were visiting Israel for the first time and 800 originated in small communities. 300 Australian young adults who had not previously celebrated their Bar or Bat Mitzvah did so whilst on their Birthright trips.

ZFA Executive Director Ginette Searle says: – “Gandel Philanthropy have distinguished themselves as leaders of Jewish philanthropy. The vision and foresight of Mr and Mrs Gandel have enabled more than 1000 young adults to participate in this transformative program. The outcomes of Birthright are clear and backed by solid data – Birthright brings young people closer to Israel, to the Jewish community and to their own Jewish identity.”

Pre-registrations for the December- February Taglit-Birthright Israel trips will open in August, including a new group for those aged 27-32.

Please email taglitbirthright@zfa.com.auto express your interest or for further information.

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