A Birthright Israel tour educator describing a map of Galilee in northern Israel

Securing a Jewish Future Through Israel Education

Helping today’s Jewish young adults in the Diaspora feel strongly connected to their Jewish heritage starts with helping them experience the land of Israel—its people, culture, religion, history, and more. This educational trip has been proven to have a lasting effect on Jewish identity, family, community, culture, and continuity.

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A Gift of Life-Changing Experiences

Birthright Israel puts Jewish young adults on the ground in the land of their heritage to experience life-changing Shabbatot, gorgeous mountain hikes, Israeli innovation, culinary adventures, Masada at sunrise, and so much more. With experiences built for self-discovery, Birthright Israel is a high-impact, educational, and experiential gift of a lifetime.

Experience the Culture of Modern Israel

Birthright Israel trips introduce Jewish young adults to their homeland to experience the thriving culture and values in the land of our past, present, and future. From Jerusalem to Tel Aviv and everywhere in between, participants explore Israeli culture and values by celebrating Shabbat together, diving into Israel’s tech scene, experiencing Hebrew as a living language, and more.

Understanding the Global Impact of the Startup Nation

Israel’s immense technological contributions to the world are less known to young Jews today. We believe showcasing these characteristics is crucial to helping participants understand the country as a leader in global activism through hi-tech, pharmaceutical startups, agricultural tech, and much more.

Masada and the Strength of Our People

When participants reach the top of Masada, they learn firsthand the history of the mountain they are standing on. Here, they truly begin to understand the determination and cohesiveness of the Jewish people. They understand their very presence in this spot is incredible.

Explore the History of the Jewish People

In order to ensure a strong, vibrant Jewish future, Birthright Israel transports young adults to their Jewish past. From digging for artifacts to placing a note in the Western Wall (Kotel) to walking the narrow streets of Tzfat, participants visit important locations throughout Israel in order to learn more about the history of the land and the unbreakable thread of Judaism and Jewish peoplehood.

The Holiest Place in the World

Touching the Western Wall for many Birthright Israel participants is a dream come true. It is one of the most anticipated moments of the trip and a memory that never leaves them. Many young adults carry notes from loved one’s thousands of miles to be placed in the Wall. It’s here they understand and feel the heartbeat of the Jewish people.

After Thousands of Years, a Nation is Reborn

As participants make their way down Rothschild Blvd. and take in the cityscapes of Tel Aviv they approach the monumental Independence Hall. When inside they listen to the original recording of David Ben-Gurion declaring independence for the Jewish people and announcing the establishment of the State of Israel. Young Jews are transported back in time to fully understand the significance of the moment.

See Israel Through the Eyes of Young Israelis

What’s the best way for young adults in the Diaspora to experience Israel? Side-by-side with young Israelis, of course! Known as Mifgash, these Israeli peers give unique insight into what it’s like to be a Jew in modern Israel. Participants and Mifgash become lifelong friends who talk about all things Jewish identity, military service, religion, politics, and culture.

A Peer-to-Peer Learning Approach

Trip staff, otherwise known as Madrichim are crucial to a participant’s experience as an individual and in a group setting. Madrichim are trained to provide a peer-led leadership style that invokes comfort and confidence as Birthright Israel participants get more in touch with their Jewish identity and homeland.

Becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah: A Rite of Passage

A milestone many Jewish children look forward to is their Bar or Bat Mitzvah but for many young Jewish adults today, this moment never came. While on Birthright Israel as they are gaining a deeper sense of their connection to Judaism, many take advantage to have a B’nai Mitzvah ceremony atop Masada or at the Kotel. During this time, many choose to recommit themselves to the Jewish people.

Contemporary Israel

Today, Israel is a place of modernity and innovation, but it’s also a place that honors the origins of the modern state. From visiting Independence Hall in Tel Aviv to exploring Yad VaShem in Jerusalem, Birthright Israel participants learn and experience firsthand how a tiny Jewish state has grown into a powerhouse of innovation, culture, democracy, and more.

Diversity, Acceptance, and Self-Discovery

Birthright Israel centers itself on community, acceptance, and self-discovery. The rich cultural diversity of our Jewish homeland encourages participants to completely be themselves and interpret the trip as their own, allowing everyone to make the most out of this special journey.

Discussing the Geopolitics of the Region

While the Birthright Israel program is apolitical, we believe is it educationally vital to help young Jews learn about and reflect on the core issues in the region through a geopolitical module. Through the geopolitical lecture led by experts in the field, we introduce and discuss openly key issues necessary for understanding the region.

The Values & Spirit of Birthright Israel

What makes Birthright Israel so unique is its spirit, a spirit based on the determination to give young Jewish adults the opportunity to learn and define their own Jewish identity in a way they feel most comfortable. It is what makes our hundreds of thousands of alums excited to be Jewish.

Our Basis: A Gift — Not Merely a Free Trip

Birthright Israel is founded on three values that are central in the Jewish world: Unity, Community and Mutual Responsibility. The project itself is therefore a gift of the Jewish people to its younger members, given with no strings attached as a pledge by the State of Israel, worldwide Jewish communities and nearly 40,000 annual donors all putting partisan and theological differences aside to ensure the vibrant future of world Jewry and the State of Israel.

Our Essence: A Jewish Educational Experience in Israel

Birthright Israel is an introductory and intensive educational experience in Israel. Its mission is to create opportunities for participants to explore their Jewish identities, strengthen their connection to Israel and its diverse society, and contribute to the vibrancy of the Jewish people worldwide. Birthright Israel regards Israel as a diverse mosaic of experiences, narratives, ideas and places that can be effectively explored throughout the journey. As we maintain that Israel is a state of ideas and ideals, rather than an ideal state, Birthright Israel is committed to understanding Israel's place as a Jewish, democratic and sovereign state among the family of nations, and to preserving its historic and eternal standing as the homeland of the Jewish people.

Our Heart: Each Participant

Birthright Israel is rooted in a person-centered educational approach. It regards "people" as the subject matter of the journey, alongside sites, narratives, ideas and values. Birthright Israel views the needs and interests of young people as the starting point of its educational work, and aims to engage participants in meaningful dialogues with Jewish concepts, values and living, as well as associations with their home communities and with Israel. Birthright Israel is therefore committed to offering all participants a sense of ownership over the educational process, by empowering the active engagement and involvement of the learners as the captains of their ongoing Jewish journeys.

Our Community: Unity — Not Uniformity

While seeking to connect young Jewish adults with each other, with their home communities and with Israel, Birthright Israel refrains from any political, ideological and/or religious partisanship in its platform. Our educational journey therefore endorses unity, yet does not seek any uniformity in either opinion or practice. Birthright Israel regards the group experience indispensable to personal identity formation, and therefore strives to build a traveling community of young Jews whose members exercise mutual recognition, tolerance, responsibility and trust, without undermining their diversity. This open, safe and pluralistic culture promotes meaningful dialogues about diverse visions and versions of Jewish living and associations with Israel. All participants are equally welcome to be part of the Birthright Israel experience by voicing their different opinions, irrespective of personal background, ideology, political views, religious beliefs and/or practices, sexual orientation or gender identity.

Our Journey: Insight-Seeing — Not Merely Site-Seeing

Birthright Israel views the land, the State and the people of Israel as a vital laboratory to explore core questions of both past and contemporary Jewish values, ideas and life. Correspondingly, Birthright Israel's programs are not structured as site-seeing trips, but as what we call "insight-seeing" journeys. The sites we explore are obviously important, yet serve a much higher purpose: to promote a culture of reflective and critical thinking through dialogue, discussion and the exchange of ideas in safe and supportive climates. By shaping the entire journey around such values, Birthright Israel wishes to motivate and elicit an inner quest for each participant and for the group as a whole, toward continued engagement with Jewish concepts, values, communal life and Israel long after their journey ends. Birthright Israel therefore endorses the Less is More approach, which does not seek to overload its itinerary at the expense of "rushed" visits and transitions between activities; rather, it calls for a thoughtful organization of the itinerary to allow each component the needed time to be explored in a manner that offers meaningful engagement, reflection and discussion.

Our Learning: Context — Not Merely Content

In today's technological era, "information" or "content" are readily accessible to anyone who seeks them, and their acquisition — albeit important — no longer requires a formal educational process. What is needed far more is the ability to situate content in appropriate context, and by doing so realize the fuller depth and complexity of the issues we aim to explore. Birthright Israel therefore wishes to broaden the scope by which our participants engage diverse topics, and to foster a process that does not necessarily resolve them, as much as it offers tools to explore them further thoughtfully and responsibly. To that end Birthright Israel developed the Thematic Approach and the Integrative Model as two important educational principles.

The Thematic Approach offers a thematic framing for each day, and for the journey as a whole, while recognizing multiple sites or activities that may correspond with each respective theme. By doing so, it allows diversification in itinerary offerings, without undermining the thematic cohesion of the journey as whole. The Integrative Model, respectively, aims to guarantee such consistency by articulating shared concepts, questions and values that underline seemingly disparate sites or experiences, and weaving them together to form a more coherent and contextualized picture. The Integrative Model calls upon the Trip Organizer to create a comprehensive mosaic of diverse themes, core questions and values whose various associations serve to link not only between figures, sites and eras, but also between the personal story of the participant and the greater story of the Jewish people and the State of Israel.

Our Relationships: Mutual Respect and Reciprocity

The importance of Israel's sites and landmarks notwithstanding, true conversations and shared impact can only occur between people. Birthright Israel therefore offers a platform for multi-day shared travel and dialogue between worldwide and Israeli peers (Mifgash), and as a vehicle for mutual insight into the lives of contemporary young Jewish adults. As Birthright Israel renders both Israeli and world Jewry indispensable for ensuring the thriving existence of Israel and the Jewish people, it endorses a process wherein young members of both communities learn to appreciate each other's assets, challenges and unique contributions to the contemporary Jewish world, as well as to its future course. This approach values a mutual and reciprocal recognition and interest, as a means to forge meaningful and lasting relationships of young Jews (and their respective communities) with each other.

Our Israel: Past, Present, and Future

Birthright Israel does not regard itself as "a heritage trip". Instead, ours is a journey that weaves together past, present and future into a fascinating tapestry of the evolving Jewish and Israeli civilization, in which we all are active engagers, rather than passive heirs. The integration of biblical landscapes alongside contemporary arts and culture; national landmarks alongside cutting-edge technologies and innovations; or Jewish values and texts alongside bustling nightlife scenes lies at the core of the well-rounded, exciting, and relevant experiences Birthright Israel aims to offer its participants throughout the trip."

Our Approach: Taking "Fun" Seriously

Birthright Israel takes "fun" seriously. As we continue to invest in a vibrant Jewish present and future, we contribute in transforming the Jewish and Israeli narratives from that of "Oy" to that of "Joy". While recognizing the undeniable place of tragedy in our historical and contemporary narratives, and while remaining fully committed to their study and commemoration, Birthright Israel seeks to engage participants in a Jewish exploration whose chief foundation is a rhetoric of values, meaning and vitality, rather than catastrophe, war, survival and persecution. We believe that Jewish identity should revolve around proactive engagement of ideas and values from within Jewish life, rather than a reactive response to external threats to Jewish living; and that Jewish discourse and experience should be implemented in enjoyable and gratifying ways that are as emotionally engaging as they are intellectually challenging. Consequently, Birthright Israel does not view "fun" in the superficial sense of "constant enjoyment", but as a vital mosaic of meaningful, challenging and stimulating experiences that articulate our shared story as a people and combine into exciting, relevant and enduring associations with oneself, one's group members, one's community, as well as Judaism, Israel and the world.

Our Responsibility: Tracking Outcomes and Advancing Self-Reflection

Birthright Israel views continued effectiveness, relevance and success as reliant on the ability to sustain constant and unyielding learning curves. We are therefore committed to research and evaluation protocols that are extensive, rigorous and regularly evolving. Looking into educational process evaluation, as well as outcomes measurement, allows Birthright Israel to assess Trip Organizers' adherence to its standards; to acclimate its educational approach, implementation and offerings based on the shifting characteristics, needs and interests of Jewish young adults; and to view short and long-term impact of the program in appropriate context. This concern with outcomes and measurements reflects our strong commitment to feedback, reflective upgrading, ongoing change and improvement.

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