Tagged Birthright Israel

‘Christian Birthright’ brings thousands of college students to Israel

Participants in the Passages program visit Jerusalem to explore the history of their Christian religion. (Courtesy of Passages)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — As evening descended on Jerusalem one Friday last month, 1,000 students gathered at the Western Wall for the traditional prayers to welcome the Jewish Sabbath. They joined the throngs who dance and sing at the holiest site in Judaism as Shabbat begins. When it was over,… Read more »

Allowing Michael Steinhardt’s bad behavior is not our biggest mistake. Obsessing over Jewish continuity and megadonors is.

Rokhl Kafrissen (Courtesy of Kafrissen)Rokhl Kafrissen (Courtesy of Kafrissen)

(JTA) — The high-profile allegations of sexual harassment against Michael Steinhardt are an opportunity for us to deconstruct how money, power and sexism have warped the nonprofit world in the shape of its largest donors. Take, for example, the case of Sheila Katz, a vice president at Hillel International who… Read more »

Here’s how Birthright guides talk about the Palestinians

A Palestinian man walks by Israeli troops standing guard in the West Bank city of Hebron, April 13, 2017. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

(JTA) – When Samuel Green talks about Israel’s West bank security barrier with the Birthright groups he guides, he first explains the Israeli view that the barrier was built to prevent Palestinian terrorists from breaching Israeli territory and that Israelis generally feel it has saved lives. But then he’ll… Read more »

OP-ED: ‘Engaging’ millennials is all the rage. But is it the best use of Jewish philanthropy?

Birthright participants celebrate the program's 10th anniversary in Jerusalem, Jan. 14, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

NEW YORK (JTA) — Engaging young people in their 20s and 30s, the so-called millennial generation, is a high priority for Jewish philanthropists. Some funders have banded together to create new initiatives, including free trips to Israel, with the express purpose of drawing members of this generation into Jewish life.… Read more »

Michael Steinhardt thinks American Jews need to stop focusing on religion

Michael Steinhardt in New York, April 12, 2012. (Scott Eells/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

  Mt. Kisco, N.Y. (JTA) — Michael Steinhardt has poured millions of dollars into ventures for American Jews. But he’s no fan of American Judaism. The hedge-fund billionaire turned mega-philanthropist is best known as the founder of Birthright Israel, the 10-day free trip to Israel for Jewish young adults.… Read more »

Counselors bring Israeli culture to Camp J

Israel Biton and Danit Yona, camp counselors from Israel, at the Tucson Jewish Community Center (Courtesy Weintraub Israel Center0

Danit Yona, 22, one of two Israelis working as counselors at the Tucson Jewish Community Center’s Camp J this summer, says she learned her nearly flawless, American-accented English from watching TV shows like “Full House,” “Family Matters” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” after school. “I also had a… Read more »

Local people, places, travels and simchas – 1.22.16

(L-R) Leslie Glaze, screenwriter Pamela Gray, Janet Lang and Marcia Abelson on Lion of Judah mission to Los Angeles

A roaring good time In early December, 24 Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona Lions of Judah flew to Tinseltown. In Los Angeles, the group explored the Jewish influence on the entertainment industry, while strengthening their bonds with one another. According to Marcia Abelson, Tucson Lion and JFSA Women’s Philanthropy… Read more »

Israeli ministry plows ahead with ‘world Jewry’ project, even as funding and future remain uncertain

Natan Sharansky, left, head of the Jewish Agency, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the latter's Jerusalem office, June 18, 2013. (Kofi Gideon/Flash90)

TEL AVIV (JTA) — With a budget reaching $300 million, it was conceived as a broad partnership between the Israeli government and leading Diaspora Jewish groups. Its goal: to create a stronger connection between global Jews and Israel. But nearly two years after its launch was announced with much… Read more »

Op-Ed: Lower the age for Birthright

SALEM, Mass. (JTA) — Every fall, Jewish teens arrive on college campuses unprepared, uninformed and unable to cope with the hostility and antagonism against Israel and Jews that they find there. While Birthright Israel does a commendable job of bolstering Jewish student pride and community, the program could have… Read more »

Backed by Bloomberg, Genesis launches ‘big ideas’ competition

(JTA) — It is now open season for those who would like a chunk of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s change and think they have a big idea up their sleeves. On Tuesday, the Genesis Prize Foundation announced the launch of the Genesis Generation Challenge, a competition offering 10 awards of… Read more »

JTA: Fighting in Israel forces teen tours to alter itineraries on the fly

Birthright participants visiting Masada during a more peaceful time, in summer 2012. (Taglit-Birthright)

TEL AVIV (JTA) — When the siren rang out in Jerusalem last week, the 41 teenage participants in a five-week summer Israel trip were already asleep, exhausted from a day that had begun with a flight from New York. Within minutes, they were awake, out of their rooms and in… Read more »

Birthright expands eligibility for free trips to Israel

The Taglit-Birthright Israel program has expanded eligibility for its free 10-day trips to Israel for Jewish young adults ages 18-26, JNS.org has learned. Teenagers who went on an educational trip to Israel during high school were previously not eligible for Birthright trips, but can now participate, confirmed Noa Bauer,… Read more »

How Jerusalem can help finance U.S. Jewish day school education

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Every decade or so, yet another demographic survey reveals the obvious: The American-Jewish community is in flux, with affiliation falling. Each time, the community circles back to what we know works: high-quality Jewish education, along with Jewish camps and Israel programs. Taken together, these are effective… Read more »

Birthright Israel alumna: It’s cool to be a Jew

Shannon Rzucidlo

After Shannon Rzucidlo, 26, went on a Birthright Israel trip this summer, NEXT, a division of the Birthright Israel Foundation, reached out to keep her connected, offering resources to help her create a Rosh Hasha­nah meal for friends. “I think my NEXT High Holiday meal was my ‘coming out’… Read more »

JFSA Birthrighters connect to Israel, each other

Romance blooms for Andrew West and Sophia Kerdoon in the Negev Desert.

Ask almost anyone who has been on Birthright Israel and they will tell you that the 10-day trip is a life-changing experience. This might sound cliché, but for many Tucsonans on the trip from June 10-20 — sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona, local donors and the… Read more »

The Birthright Israel flip side: Fewer high school students traveling to Israel

Birthright participants visiting Masada, summer 2012. (Taglit-Birthright)

NEW YORK (JTA) — With the summer travel season fast approaching, providers of Israel programs for teenagers are bracing themselves for what several say could be a season of historically low travel in a year unaffected by major security concerns. Over the past decade, Israel travel among those aged… Read more »

Young adults thrilled and inspired by JFSA Birthright trip

Participants on a Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona-sponsored Birthright Israel trip hike in Ein Avdat in the Negev. (Courtesy Nicole Walters)

The Tucsonans on the first Birthright Israel trip sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona had heard rave reviews from friends who’d been on one of Birthright’s free, 10-day trips to Israel — and they were at least a bit skeptical. But this group came back believers. “Everyone… Read more »

Federation plans its own Birthright Israel trip

The Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona will offer a Birthright Israel trip this June, with 20 spots available for local young professionals and graduate students, 22-26 years old. Birthright is a national nonprofit that sponsors men and women ages 18-26 to go on a free, educational 10-day tour of… Read more »