Everyone is looking for that magical elixir that will lead young adults to deepen their relationships to Israel and Jewish family. Well, a recent study, “Generation Birthright Israel: The Impact of an Israel Experience on Jewish Identity and Choices,” shows that Taglit-Birthright Israel, a free, 10-day educational tour of the Holy Land, could be the answer. The study showed that Jewish marriage, Jewish identity, involvement and observance are all positively tied to Birthright.
“My trip was filled with overwhelming emotions and surpassed expectations. A bond with my homeland and the people with whom I shared this experience was formed quickly and will never be broken,” said Scott Macklin, who grew up in Pikesville and graduated from the University of Maryland, owns a business in Randallstown and participated in the 2011 ASSOCIATED/Impact Taglit-Birthright Israel experience.
The 2010 Greater Baltimore Jewish Community Study, likewise, linked Israel travel with a greater connection to our homeland; those who travel are per capita much more likely to support the Jewish state (though it was not clear whether travel led to support or vice versa). However, cost of travel was cited as a significant barrier. For young adults 18 to 26, Birthright is free. However, the waiting list for Baltimore-area students is long. THE ASSOCIATED recently launched a special fundraising campaign to reduce the waiting list and to try to ensure that no young adult is left behind.
“Experiences like Birthright-Israel are vital for our young adults, if we want to ensure that the Jewish Baltimore of tomorrow is as strong and vibrant as the one we live in today,” said Carole Sibel, who is among the special campaigns initiators. “Birthright Israel works!”
“One of my most memorable days was when our group went to the Kotel, the Western Wall. As we approached the entrance, there was a feeling of awe. I literally got goose bumps; I was staggered by my emotions. Later that day, we returned to the Kotel for Shabbat. The feeling was electric. Hundreds, maybe thousands of people were all praying and giving their full attention to the Kotel. I had never seen or felt anything like that at any religious event or experience of which I had been a part,” said Macklin. “My life has been forever altered by my experience.”
Please consider helping us send more young adults on a Birthright trip. Right now, a gift in any amount will be particularly impactful because of the opportunity we have to leverage it through a generous national challenge grant. Every new or increased dollar raised this year will be matched. To make a gift , please contact Nancy Kutler, Vice President for The Center for Funds & Foundations, at email@example.com or 410-369-9231.