Birthright Israel to bring 13,500 participants this summer

Given current college climate, “it is imperative ... for Jewish students to have a strong sense of community through Birthright,” says organization's CEO.

Birthright participants during a recent trip. Credit: Courtesy of Birthright Israel.
Birthright participants during a recent trip. Credit: Courtesy of Birthright Israel.

The largest educational tourism organization in the world will welcome nearly 13,500 participants, mostly from the United States and Canada, to Israel for its upcoming summer session, which runs from mid-May until September. All Birthright Israel trips and programs will operate under strict safety and security standards.

“Birthright Israel is committed to providing participants with a safe and a meaningful experience. In light of the recent escalation on college campuses, in which Jewish students are being threatened daily, it is imperative, now more than ever, for young Jews—and especially, Jewish students—to have a strong sense of community through Birthright programs,” said Birthright Israel CEO Gidi Mark. “We want them to visit the must-see sites, engage in open dialogues about the global surge in anti-Semitism within a secure environment, interact with Israelis and witness firsthand our society’s resilience amidst adversity, and having come to Israel with questions, they will leave with a deeper understanding.”

Birthright Israel participants will “return to their communities more educated and connected to Israel, more involved in Jewish life, prouder of who they are as Jews, now part of a new supporting community of like-minded peers,” Mark said.

About 9,000 of the season participants will take part in the classic 10-day program; 3,000 will volunteer through the Birthright Israel Onward Volunteer Program; 1,400 in Onward internships and fellowships; and 64 in the prestigious Birthright Israel Excel fellowship program. The frameworks’ common goal is for participants to experience Israel to the fullest, returning home with a stronger connection and added resilience.

In the context of Hamas’s Oct. 7 terror attacks and the ongoing war that followed, Birthright has incorporated new elements into trip itineraries. Each group will participate in civic volunteering, meet with a grassroots organization created to address local needs and hear firsthand testimonies on the tragic events of that Black Shabbat.

An additional 3,000 Israeli peers will be participating across all Birthright programs to foster relationships with their counterparts from the Diaspora, who will be able to share their experiences as Jews back home. These conversations will promote group connectedness, a sense of community and shared destiny, which is so crucial now, and the understanding that all Birthright participants are not alone in their experiences—that they have a community that can help them feel safer.

Veronica Benarroch, 19, a college student from Florida, is a Birthright participant who will arrive in Israel this month. 

Veronica Benarroch. Credit: Courtesy of Birthright Israel.

“Being a college student post-Oct. 7 has shown me the importance of educating myself and those around me about Israel,” she said. “I want to go on Birthright because I really want to connect more to my Jewish heritage, to other Jewish students and to Israel. I’ve never been to Israel, yet it’s been a big part of my identity and Judaism. I would love to experience it. I am also choosing to do an Onward internship because it gives me an opportunity to go abroad while connecting to my Judaism.”

Birthright Israel is the largest educational tourism organization in the world. It has transformed the lives of more than 850,000 young Jewish adults ages 18–26 with the gift of a 10-day educational tour of Israel, as well as internships and fellowship programs through Onward and Excel.

Its mission is to provide all young Jewish adults with opportunities for transformative and immersive shared experiences in Israel and a foundation for ongoing Jewish connection.

Corey Silberglid. Credit: Courtesy of Birthright Israel.

Corey Silberglid, 20, a college student from Delaware, said, “I want to be surrounded by people like me on this trip. In a time like this, it is hard to see that there is a community out there that supports our cause, and that is exactly what Israel is. When you step foot in Israel, you are surrounded by Jews, you are surrounded by Zionists and people who understand the life we are living right now. We are all empathetic and there for each other. I am looking forward to wrapping arms around all my Jewish brothers and sisters, and to singing and praying at the Western Wall for peace to come.”

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Birthright Israel began with a bold idea: offering a free, life-changing trip to Israel for young Jewish adults between the ages of 18 and 26, and in doing so, transforming the Jewish future. Our mission is to provide all young Jewish adults with opportunities for transformative and immersive shared experiences in Israel, plus a foundation for ongoing Jewish connection. Today, Birthright Israel is the largest educational tourism organization in the world, having provided more than 850,000 journeys to Israel. See more at: https://www.birthrightisrael.com/
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