Birthright Israel is resuming its policy of funding free trips to the Jewish state only for young adults ages 18 to 26.

A previous category for travelers who are 27 to 32 will no longer be eligible for Birthright Israel trips starting in the fall.

According to IsraelOutdoors.com, a leading organizer of Birthright trips, the reason for the change in policy is that travelers “ages 27-32 were made eligible on a pilot basis four years ago. The pilot has ended, and Birthright Israel has decided to return to the original age range of 18-26. There will be no exceptions once the rules change in the fall.”

This summer will be the last chance for Jews above the age of 26 to participate in Birthright, except for anyone older who had registered for a trip that was canceled because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, according to a Birthright spokesperson.

“Extending the age to 32 caused the 26-year-olds to postpone their trip,” the spokesperson told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “We believe that by creating a more structured timeframe to participate, young people will make a Birthright Israel trip a priority at a time when they can fully engage and benefit” from the activities and peer group.

The spokesperson added that by placing attention back on those who are college undergraduates and graduate students, Birthright can respond to “rising instances of anti-Semitism and the lack of understanding of Israel on college and university campuses across the globe.”

Birthright trips are offered to young Jewish men and women who have never been to Israel (with some exceptions). The program was launched in 1999 and except for one meal a day, the trip is free, including round-trip airfare. More than 600,000 young adults from around the world have already participated in the program.

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