(JNS.org) The Taglit-Birthright Israel program, which takes Jews ages 18-26 on free 10-day trips to Israel, on Wednesday named its 500,000th participant.
During an event at Tel Aviv’s Wohl Amphitheater on Wednesday, Birthright’s founders, philanthropists Michael Steinhardt and Charles Bronfman, met the milestone trip participant, 24-year-old Molly Dodd of New Jersey. Dodd presented the founders with framed letters from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from 1998, in which he gave his blessing for Birthright to begin.
“I am thrilled to discover Israel for the first time through Taglit-Birthright Israel, and excited to continue exploring my Jewish roots,” Dodd said. “I am deeply moved to be the 500,000th participant of the most successful organization in the Jewish world. I feel honored to meet its founders and be able to show my gratitude and respect for the incredible impact they have had over the years.”
The event was part of Birthright’s first Tel Aviv Urban Experience—three days of programming dedicated to showcasing the modern city of Tel Aviv’s role in in shaping modern Israeli society, as well as the city’s global influence in the high-tech, fashion, culinary, and music fields.
The visitors toured Tel Aviv landmarks, enjoying a culinary lecture with renowned chef Gil Hovav, a dance lesson on the central Rothschild Boulevard, a concert by popular band Hadag Nachash at the Tel Aviv port, and a falafel tasting.
Birthright expects to bring 45,000 trip participants to visit Israel this year, which marks the program’s 15th anniversary.