Why Birthright’s Funding Problems Should Worry American Jews https://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/israel-zionism/2022/12/why-birthrights-funding-problems-should-worry-american-jews/

December 1, 2022 | Jonathan Tobin
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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 on JNS: https://www.jns.org/opinion/birthright-budget-problems-are-a-communal-emergency/