Onward Israel merges with Birthright as part of effort to appeal to new audiences

January 6, 2022 by Faygie Holt
Read on for article

Two organizations that provide Israel experiences for Jewish young adults, Birthright Israel and Onward Israel, are announcing their merger this week with the goal of strengthening the relationship between Diaspora Jews worldwide and the Jewish state.

The first Birthright Israel group after a year-long absence due to the coronavirus pandemic, May 2021. Photo by Erez Uzir.

“Since its inception, Birthright has evolved from solely the traditional 10-day trip to cater to the growing needs and interests of our participants, such as specialized trips for professional development opportunities, those with disabilities, the LGBTQ community and much more. As a result of the merger, Birthright Israel, which will include Onward, will continue investing time and effort in developing programming that appeals to different audiences of this generation,” Birthright Israel CEO Gidi Mark told JNS.

As part of the merger, Onward Israel will become a program within Birthright with its CEO, Ilan Wagner, becoming vice president of Onward programming at Birthright. Mark remains in his post at Birthright.

Onward Israel began in 2012 as a project of the Jewish Agency for Israel and offers programs for young adults who come to Israel for six to 10 weeks to live, work and study experiences. Its goal has been to inspire and strengthen participants’ Jewish identity. Birthright Israel, meanwhile, has brought some 750,000 Jewish young adults from some 70 countries on free 10-day trips to Israel.

Those trips were on hiatus during the coronavirus pandemic. Birthright officials are hopeful that they will resume shortly for fully vaccinated and boosted young Jews. Some participants with Onward Israel were able to travel to Israel in the last year because of the extended length of their programs.

The merger isn’t the only new initiative Birthright is undertaking.

YouTube player

“We recently launched ‘Birthright Israel Labs,’ a new digital initiative, with the goal of further engaging and connecting alumni and the greater Diaspora community,” said Mark. “Since its launch less than two weeks ago, our amazing Birthright Israel Labs digital content has already totalled nearly 2 million views. We will continue to leverage creative methods to personalize the connection that every Diaspora Jew feels with Israel both in-person and online.”

The CEO of the Zionist Federation of Australia Ginette Searle told J-Wire: “This partnership will potentially offer a broader range of experiential Israel trips for young Australians. The ZFA is proud to be the official partner of Taglit Birthright Israel in Australia.”

Speak Your Mind

Comments received without a full name will not be considered
Email addresses are NEVER published! All comments are moderated. J-Wire will publish considered comments by people who provide a real name and email address. Comments that are abusive, rude, defamatory or which contain offensive language will not be published

Got something to say about this?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.