update desk

Elevated demand, inflation lead Birthright to shutter registration early

The educational tourism group filled its 15,000 slots quicker than expected.

A Birthright Israel trip in 2022. Credit: Courtesy.
A Birthright Israel trip in 2022. Credit: Courtesy.

Ask and ye shall receive. For Birthright Israel, that meant filling all 12,000 slots for its 10-day, 2023 summer trips to Israel from the U.S. and Canada, forcing it to close the application process early. This application period was 20 days—with trip dates posted just two days ago—rather than the typical three months.

In an announcement, the 23-year-old group cited increased demand and blamed “budget constraints,” exacerbated by inflation-fueled, 30% increased costs that required reducing the cohort size, per a Birthright announcement.

Birthright reported a 68% increase in deposits it received, compared to a similar period before the pandemic. It will select 12,000 North Americans from 32,000 applicants, with another 3,000 slots going to young people from other parts of the world for its summer trips. Another 8,500 young people, from North America and the rest of the world, will participate in a Birthright trip this year that is not during the summer, a Birthright spokesman told JNS.

With an age cutoff of 26 for participants, Birthright will prioritize 26-year-olds if funding for more spots arrives. The 23,500 young Jews worldwide it will bring to Israel this year represent a nearly 33% decrease over the 35,000 it hosted in 2022 and a more than 51% decrease over the 48,000 before the pandemic.

Birthright will refund deposits of those who are not selected, it stated.

Gidi Mark, the group’s CEO, said it is a critical time to expand rather than contract Birthright “when young Jews are being bombarded with antisemitic and anti-Israel sentiments on social media and on college campuses.”

He added that Birthright will have to continue to deny applicants, unless donations arrive. “It’s time for the entire Jewish community to step up,” he said.

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