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Philanthropists call on Jewish community to increase investment in Birthright amid budget cuts

“We are creating space for others to commit, to re-commit or to increase their commitment. Birthright is not an Adelson family investment. It is an investment in us all, in our collective, communal future,” said Dr. Miriam Adelson.

The first Birthright Israel group after a year-long absence due to the coronavirus pandemic, May 24, 2021. Photo by Erez Uzir.
The first Birthright Israel group after a year-long absence due to the coronavirus pandemic, May 24, 2021. Photo by Erez Uzir.

Following the recent announcement that budget cuts will cause Birthright Israel to cut up to one-third of its trip participants in 2023 and beyond, the leading philanthropic supporters of the program on Tuesday called upon Jews and Jewish organizations worldwide to become “fellow investors” in the organization that provides free 10-day trips to Israel for Jewish young adults.

“We are creating space for others to commit, to re-commit or to increase their commitment. Birthright is not an Adelson family investment. It is an investment in us all, in our collective, communal future,” said Dr. Miriam Adelson, who, along with her late husband Sheldon Adelson, through the Adelson Family Foundation, has contributed nearly $500 million to Birthright during the past 15 years.

Adelson and Charles Bronfman addressed the Birthright Israel Foundation’s board meeting via video conference after Birthright announced last week that due to inflation and rising travel expenses that have increased the per-person cost of the experience to $4,500. The organization is “now seeking contributions from the wider American-Jewish community to maintain the organization’s provision of the critical program.”

Bronfman said he and Adelson “believe it is time for us to return to one of our early mantras about Birthright Israel: It is a gift of one generation of Jews to the next.” All Jews “should bear responsibility for this gift” by donating to Birthright, he said.

American Jews who attend Birthright trips are 160% more likely to have a spouse who is Jewish, according to a recently published analysis by the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University.

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