ZFA to send 160 young Australians to Israel

July 7, 2017 by Hayley Hadassin
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160 young Jewish adults have left Australia on the Taglit-Birthright Israel visionary program that provides a gift of a 10-day educational tour of Israel,

At the airport ready for departure

The Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA) is proud to represent the Australian Jewish community as the local partner in this unique project with the help of the Gandel Philanthropy,

This Israeli summer season, four groups of 40 participant  aged 18-26  will enjoy this experience. Two of these groups, run through ZFA itself, have been generously supported by Gandel Philanthropy, the principal Australian supporter of Taglit-Birthright Israel. The generosity of Gandel Philanthropy enables young adults, many of whom are unaffiliated with the Australian Jewish community and have never visited Israel, to experience this life-changing program. Pre-departure sessions were held in both Sydney and Melbourne and the excitement in the rooms was palpable.

For Josh Grunfeld going to Israel for the first time means: – “Finally being able to visit a place I’ve only heard good things about and having an opportunity to connect to my roots. Even though I don’t have Israeli family I have always felt a connection to Israel throughout my life.”

Taglit-Birthright Israel trips provide participants with an opportunity to learn about their Jewish heritage, connecting them to Israel in a real and meaningful way and fostering their Jewish identity and connection to their own communities.  Each of the groups includes 40 Australian participants and 8 Israeli participants of similar ages, adding connections on a deep and personal level.

Natacha Maloon is taking time off work to attend this trip, she says: – “Birthright is an opportunity to return to a home away from home. The chance to experience Israel with Jewish people from a multitude of backgrounds and circumstances is one that doesn’t come around every day. I expect that Birthright will enable us to see Israel through a unique lens, and form the foundation for friendships and memories that will last long into the future.”

Research conducted by the Cohen Center of Brandies University indicates that 72% of Taglit-Birthright participants marry someone Jewish as opposed to 51% of non-participants. Taglit participants are also 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.

However, Taglit-Birthright would not be possible without the strong local support. ZFA President Dr Danny Lamm says:  “Gandel Philanthropy has underpinned our Australian Taglit-Birthright program for the past six years. Their cornerstone backing enables 120 young Australian adults per year to have a unique opportunity of visiting Israel and seeing what Israel has to offer. We are delighted that Gandel Philanthropy see this as the marquee program for both encouraging the support of Israel and Jewish education. Over the past six years the Gandel family enabled more than 700 young adults to participate in this life changing program, and they are now also supporting the new Birthright program for people with special needs. They have distinguished themselves as leaders of Jewish philanthropy.”

Since its inception in 2000, more than 600,000 young Jews from 67 countries around the world and more than 75 000 young Israelis have taken part in the Taglit-Birthright Israel program.

The ZFA works together with several local program organisers to operate Taglit-Birthright Israel. By the end of 2017, more than 4620 Australians will have participated in this program.

One of our local Australian madrichim, Jordan Snir feels this opportunity of leading a Taglit-Birthright bus: “It is a chance for us to kindle or rekindle the Jewish flame in people who haven’t been exposed to their heritage and our Birthright.”

In November and December 2017, ZFA will be sending 4 Australian Taglit-Birthright Israel groups. Along with 3 groups run through  local organisers AUJS and Chavaya (Chabad on Campus),  it will also be the very first time that The Zionist Federation of Australia together with the Australian Principal Supporter, Gandel Philanthropy and other organisational partners, Access Inc., Flying Fox and Friendship Circle, will send a bus to Israel for young adults with special needs (cognitive.)

Applications for the December Taglit-Birthright trip will open in August.

Please email israelprograms@zfa.com.au to be added to the expression of interest list.

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