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Sunday, February 26, 2006

Birthright

Here's the press release:
Requests Swamp Israel Trip Program

by Jewish Telegraphic Agency 2006-02-24www.jewishjournal.com/home/preview.php?id=15477

Birthright Israel has received many more applications for its upcoming trips than it has spaces available. Approximately 14,000 young Jews applied for 8,000 spots in the program's spring/summer trips this year in just the first 12 hours of registration Feb. 8.

The organization provides free trips to Israel for Jews ages 18 to 26. In the six years since its founding, Birthright has brought 98,000 people from 45 countries to Israel. The upcoming trip will include the program's 100,000th participant."

The level of demand is unprecedented and well exceeds our financial capability to accommodate the majority of those who currently wish to go on Taglit-Birthright Israel trips," said Susie Gelman, Birthright Israel Foundation chair.Taglit is the Hebrew name for the program."

As Taglit-Birthright Israel grows rapidly and develops into a community-supported organization, we hope that our friends will support us in enabling more young Jews to participate in the Taglit-Birthright Israel experience, so that we can send the 100,000th participant and plan for the next 100,000," Gelman said.
IMRA - Independent Media Review and AnalysisWebsite: www.imra.org.il

A couple of weeks ago I got an email from a cousin to announce that his child, whom I had never met, was on the program, and at that moment in Israel. Included were the itinerary and cell phone. Immediately I called and introduced myself. The trip was already almost half over. They weren't allowed to leave the group at all. They had no free time, and the Jerusalem hotel wasn't in Jerusalem. It was like a tourist going to New York to see the Statue of Liberty and Empire State Building, but staying in a hotel in Great Neck, Long Island or Norwalk, CT. Suffice to say that we didn't meet the cousin.

A tour from a bus, highly supervised and restricted could be done with one of those new-fangled "viewers" I've read about, all computerized. You sit in a chair, put them on and "experience" all sorts of things. If the participants in these trips aren't allowed the freedom of wandering a bit here and there, they don't really connect to our Land and People.

2 comments:

josh said...

Something about limiting liabilities and risks. The itineraries are virtually 'top secret' and are specifically not allowed to be publicized ahead of time, though it doesn't take two barin cells to listen to 'army radio' for the twice a year birthright/taglit commercials to know that they (several thousand yidden youth) are in the country travelling in tour bus convoys.

Anyway, it's unfortunate that they don't get to see Israel as youth tours did in the past, but they do in fact get out of the bus, go on hikes, and learn that meeting other Jewish youth (to a deeper extent) is worthwhile.

I've noticed that much effort is now being spent overseas to dream up new ways to get Jewish youth to 'meet', in whatever context, and this is a pretty good way too.

Batya said...

Honestly, it's disappointing to have a relative come and not be able to easily meet. We've had everyone else come here to visit, or we easily met them in Jerusalem.