Why Birthright’s Funding Problems Should Worry American Jews

Due to rising costs and a reported decrease in donations, Birthright Israel—a program that gives young American Jews free trips to the Jewish state—declared that it will only be sponsoring 23,500 participants in 2023, as opposed to 35,000 this year. Jonathan Tobin comments on the program’s successes, and what might be lost by its decline:

In an era when assimilation and intermarriage have taken a huge toll on the Jewish community, the ten-day Birthright visit has proven to be a life-changing event for many participants. [A study conducted by Brandeis University] showed that nearly half of those eligible took advantage of Birthright. Even more important, those who did so were far more likely to be somewhat, or very, attached to Israel; feel a sense of belonging to the Jewish people; and feel they had a lot in common with Israeli Jews. The most startling statistic was that participants were 160-percent more likely to end up with a Jewish partner or spouse.

[T]he strong connection to the Jewish state and the Jewish people that is engendered by these trips is needed more than ever. While schools and camps are still vital, there is simply no substitute for what Birthright has accomplished.

While interfaith outreach groups and anti-Zionists may not be upset about a decline in the number of Birthright participants, no one who cares about perpetuating Jewish life in North America should be under illusions that their community doesn’t need to look to Israel as a spiritual center and a source of inspiration. Birthright is too important to be allowed to be just one more victim of a bad economy or the decisions of individual foundations to shift their priorities.

Read more at JNS

More about: American Jewry, Birthright Israel, Israel and the Diaspora

Israel Just Sent Iran a Clear Message

Early Friday morning, Israel attacked military installations near the Iranian cities of Isfahan and nearby Natanz, the latter being one of the hubs of the country’s nuclear program. Jerusalem is not taking credit for the attack, and none of the details are too certain, but it seems that the attack involved multiple drones, likely launched from within Iran, as well as one or more missiles fired from Syrian or Iraqi airspace. Strikes on Syrian radar systems shortly beforehand probably helped make the attack possible, and there were reportedly strikes on Iraq as well.

Iran itself is downplaying the attack, but the S-300 air-defense batteries in Isfahan appear to have been destroyed or damaged. This is a sophisticated Russian-made system positioned to protect the Natanz nuclear installation. In other words, Israel has demonstrated that Iran’s best technology can’t protect the country’s skies from the IDF. As Yossi Kuperwasser puts it, the attack, combined with the response to the assault on April 13,

clarified to the Iranians that whereas we [Israelis] are not as vulnerable as they thought, they are more vulnerable than they thought. They have difficulty hitting us, but we have no difficulty hitting them.

Nobody knows exactly how the operation was carried out. . . . It is good that a question mark hovers over . . . what exactly Israel did. Let’s keep them wondering. It is good for deniability and good for keeping the enemy uncertain.

The fact that we chose targets that were in the vicinity of a major nuclear facility but were linked to the Iranian missile and air forces was a good message. It communicated that we can reach other targets as well but, as we don’t want escalation, we chose targets nearby that were involved in the attack against Israel. I think it sends the message that if we want to, we can send a stronger message. Israel is not seeking escalation at the moment.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Iran, Israeli Security