Well it’s July and let me say IT WON’T BE OUR LAST BIRTHRIGHT TRIP. The journey was exhausting, physically draining, but mentally and spiritually uplifting. I can also say it was one of the most important outreach/inreach activities I have ever been part of.
The young people who traveled on this trip not only had a deeply memorable trip, bonded with Israelis their own age but most importantly strengthened their connection with Jewish thought and tradition. As our trip was organized by Kesher, a project of the URJ, the spiritual component may have been more focused on than other Birthright organized groups, but it is impossible to travel to Israel and not be spiritually moved. That is what makes Israel so different from other places, and why Birthright is such a triumph.
As a community, we Jews are great at pointing out our own shortcomings and failures. It is something of a sport to us. Occasionally, however, we have to step back and congratulate ourselves for our successes. Birthright is one of the greatest successes in the history of American Jewish life. It is a cooperative effort bringing together Jewish federations, major donors and the government of Israel.
Birthright most significantly reaches Jewish young people at a critical stage of their lives, often after several years of disengagement. The project helps plant the seeds of further connection, and challenges the participants to find meaning in their Judaism as adults. My only disappointment is that there isn’t a similar program for Jews who aren’t between the ages of 18-26.
To this point, I also advised back at the beginning of the year to watch for future TBA trips to Israel for people of all ages. We can now say that next summer we will be travelling to Israel on TBA’s seventh organized journey. The departure dates and prices are in the last stages of being finalized, but we are planning on departing towards the beginning of June, and the price will be over $1500 per person less than comparable trips departing from LAX.
While not subsidized, we always make sure that these life changing journeys are always as affordable as possible. We look forward to making the dream of L’shana haba’ah b’Yerushalayim/Next Year in Jerusalem, a reality.
Have a great summer,