Is Birthright Just A Freebie Trip To Israel Or A Real Game Changer In Jewish Practice?


yerushalayimTaglit-Birthright Israel is transforming contemporary Jewish American culture. In its first 10 years alone, more than 200,000 young Jewish adults traveled to Israel for a free, 10-day experience.

Many believe that Birthright is now becoming the new rite of passage for Jewish youth. Yet Birthright influences feelings about Israel and Judaism more than it inspires action and engagement in the American Jewish community.

The findings from the recently released third report in the Jewish Futures Project are consistent with previous studies – Birthright participants feel more connected to Israel and indicate an interest in remaining within the Jewish community. But the same report notes that while Birthright has influenced rates of Jewish in-marriage (and conversion), only slight behavioral changes result from the experience. Compared to young Jewish adults who don’t take the trip, Birthright alumni are only slightly more likely to join a shul, celebrate Yom Tov and Shabbos, and are no more likely to volunteer in the community. If this expensive program is a key to developing American Judaism for a new era, it will need to foster the skills and commitments needed for its participants to build Jewish communities at home.

Read more from The Forward here.

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  1. Maybe they need to provide a more authentic Jewish experience – enlist the help of Aish etc – you can’t expect a person to go to Israel and then change overnite –

  2. Its all glamour, no gloss. No Torah involved at the greatest level but a free trip to have the time of your life. So its fun for the kids. But who will be our next Gadols?

  3. 1 and 2 are correct! I have a very nice relative, a fine young man, who will be joining the birthright trip on Jan. 13th iy”H…he is reaaly looking forward to it. I would love to see an individual joining them who could actually be mashpia on him…he has the the “ability” to become much “frummer” and the right person could make all the difference in the world! He has just recently become involved in his on-compass Chabad group. Does anyone know who to contact so that this important issue could be addressed!

  4. my cousin went on this. his family isnt frum. He came back to America with all the anti-charedi sentiment he learned from the soldier assigned to his group. And ill tell you he knew NOTHING of charedim (besides my family) or had an opinion of them one way or another before the trip.

  5. I would have like to see a more meaninful trip but it depends which group was offering the trip. Unfortunately collage students may not connect Aish with ‘meaningful’ but with ‘religious’.