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October 21, 2014 / 27 Tishri, 5775
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Birthright-Taglit Reaches 400,000th Israel Participant Milestone

Plenty of time for foreign journalists, but hasn't answered questions at home in over a year

Plenty of time for foreign journalists, but hasn't answered questions at home in over a year
Photo Credit: Taglit-Birthright Israel

NEW YORK— Taglit-Birthright Israel has passed a significant milestone with the designation of the program’s 400,000th participant: Ryan Hunter, 20, a student from Syosset, NY (Long Island). By reaching this milestone, Taglit-Birthright Israel turns a corner and has now provided a free heritage trip to half of the young Jewish adults who are eligible every year.

Hunter plays Division 1 Lacrosse at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio and is the group captain for the ‘Amazing Israel Lacrosse’ Taglit-Birthright Israel special interest group tour. He and approximately 40 other top collegiate athletes will travel through Israel experiencing the full 10-day program. During the visit, Hunter and the other athletes will also teach lacrosse to young Israeli athletes, while training and competing in exhibition games against the Israel men’s and women’s national teams.

Hunter, a communications student at Ohio State Univeristy, was inspired to apply to Birthright Israel when his older sister returned from her trip with a restored faith in Judaism.

“Ryan was chosen for this honor because he embodies the Taglit-Birthright Israel applicant,” said Taglit-Birthright Israel CEO Gidi Mark. “He represents the best and brightest of the future of the Jewish people, and is someone who might not have chosen to connect with Israel had it not been for Taglit-Birthright Israel.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally greeted Hunter at a Birthright Israel Mega Event, which brought together 3,200 participants from 60 bus tours for an evening of culture. The celebration of Zionism included comments from Netanyahu, and leading philanthropists, Dr. Miriam and Sheldon Adelson.

Taglit-Birthright Israel also welcomed its 70,000th Israeli participant to the Mifgash (“Encounter”) program, in which 8-10 Israeli students and soldiers join the tour buses to establish life-long global friendships with Jewish peers.

“We have reached a remarkable milestone in our ongoing mission for worldwide Jewish continuity,” said Gidi Mark. “Our 400,000 participants represent a strong and active bond between Israel and the Diaspora; and Taglit-Birthright Israel will continue to provide hundreds of thousands of young Jews with an opportunity to explore Israel – the heart of Jewish culture, history and its people, so that they may rediscover and create a personal bond with their faith and global community.”

Taglit-Birthright Israel offers the gift of a free, 10-day trip to Israel for Jewish adults between the ages of 18 to 26. The trip aims to strengthen each participant’s identity as a Jew; to build an understanding, friendship and lasting bond with the land and people of Israel; and to reinforce the solidarity of the Jewish people worldwide.

Taglit-Birthright Israel has sent 400,000 young Jewish adults to Israel from more than 66 countries and from all 50 U.S. states, including students from nearly 1,000 North American college campuses.

Attendees are immersed in an active educational experience, which includes three main areas: the narratives of the Jewish people, contemporary Israel, and the formative values of Judaism. The trip includes visits to Jewish historical sites, history museums, Holocaust remembrance sites, the Western Wall, arts and culture programs as well as touring, hiking, discussions, social events, camel and jeep rides in the desert, and more.

The Taglit-Birthright Israel program is sponsored by partnerships with thousands of individual donors and private philanthropists, Jewish communities around the world through the Jewish Federations of North America, Keren Hayesod, the Jewish Agency of Israel as well as Government of Israel.

“It is our hope that participants, like Ryan, see the Birthright Israel experience as a springboard for a life-long connection with
their heritage,” added Mark.

About the Author: Anav Silverman is a regular contributor to Tazpit News Agency.


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11 Responses to “Birthright-Taglit Reaches 400,000th Israel Participant Milestone”

  1. Richard Fox says:

    that’s an awful lot of booze.

  2. Michael Hart says:

    An enormous amount if money and sooo many jobs for bureaucrats in exchange for what? What effect is birthright having? I don’t see it,

  3. Michael, just don’t know where you are getting your data. What bureaucrats? Very few jobs – most of the work is outsourced

  4. It’s sending our young people to Israel who might not otherwise have the chance.

  5. Ronnie Pleet says:

    You are so wrong

  6. Michael Hart says:

    I think that is true for part of the group. But let’s assume that 15 percent of young jews are the ones that grow up to be engaged in what we will call jewish communal life. Those are the Jews that birthright is taking credit for. Sorry I simply know too many participants to think that there is any major return being made here. Look at the stats for the last 30 years. The Jews walking away is still accelerating. Are you sure you want to have this discussion?

  7. Michael Hart says:

    Ok here is my observation. Every summer for many years we go to Israel. Every summer we talk to birthright participants. We know dozens of people who are children of close friends who have been on the program. We have a dozen relatives who have also attended. So my perceptions are anecdotal. That being said I think that it is a massive waste of money and effort. With no exception every single person that goes in attached and engaged comes out that way. And every person that is not attached or engaged comes out that way. Last summer we sat in an outdoor cafe in Jerusalem and spoke to half a dozen 20 year olds who told us that there were 60 people on their trip and each one told us that they had sex with pretty much every girl on the trip. Every Israeli thinks the program is great. Every jewish communal bureaucrat thinks the program is great. I think that if the money was spent on training advocates for our people that would create something prideful. Taking kids to Israel to party just doesn’t do it for me. AND thirty years of statistics showing the hyper decline in Jewish engagement shows I’m right. So mazal tov birthright! Pat yourselves on the back!!!

  8. Michael Hart says:

    Ya you are right

  9. Both of my kids went. Loved it :))

  10. Zak Klein says:

    Now I’m very excited ;) haha

  11. Michael Hart says:

    Who doesn’t like partying on a free trip to a foreign country ???

Comments are closed.

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