On Thursday, November 11, 2021,  Birthright Israel Foundation hosted a spectacular event, chaired by Alyce & Philip de Toledo, Dorit & Shawn Evenhaim, and Lexie & Michael Messinger, to benefit our mission in Los Angeles. We were honored to have as our keynote speaker, Ambassador of Israel to the United States and the United Nations, Ambassador Gilad Erdan on his first visit to Los Angeles. Ambassador Erdan is a huge proponent of Birthright Israel and shared that the program “does not just touch lives, it transforms them.” *Photos from the event are available below.  

Local alumnus Corey Black opened the program with details of his transformational journey stemming from his own Birthright Israel experience. For Corey, the Israeli soldiers played a crucial role: “I often think of the soldiers I met and how they are protecting Israel when I get ready for work as an armed guard at a synagogue. When I put on my bulletproof vest, I always make sure to attach my Israeli flag patch so I know Israel’s by my side. It reminds me of why I do what I do and the importance of guarding the synagogue so my fellow Jews can pray – safely.” 

The significance of our trips resuming became apparent in the vivid remarks shared by summer 2021 alumna, Isabel Allard, who gave the audience an inside look at what it means to be a Jewish student on today’s college campus. Isabel stated in her remarks how she utilized the gift of Birthright Israel, “to make a tangible connection to the land and people of Israel and to light a fire in me to defend our homeland back on campus. Birthright Israel taught me lessons about my Jewish heritage and connection to Israel that I would have never gotten elsewhere.” 

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The importance and impact of the Birthright Israel program were echoed by Dr. Zohar Raviv, Birthright Israel’s International VP of Educational Strategy, as Corey and Isabel’s stories are just two of the hundreds of thousands of reasons why Birthright Israel is crucial to the future of the Jewish people and the State of Israel.  

Those in attendance also heard from incoming National Board Chair, Phil de Toledo, Chair of the Los Angeles Leadership Council, Michael Messinger, and National Board Member, Shawn Evenhaim, each expressing why Birthright Israel is needed now more than ever. With the rise in antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment across college campuses, social media, and in Los Angeles, we must come together and invest in the next generation. Most of all, we must provide them with a meaningful relationship with the State of Israel so that they can say with confidence, “I am proud to be Jewish.”  

Thanks to those in attendance for what we hope was inspiring and insightful into the life-changing opportunity Birthright Israel has provided to more than 750,000 participants over the last 21 years.  

While the event may have concluded, our commitment to send every eligible young adult to Israel continues. For those of you who have already made a 2021 gift, thank you!  If you have not had the opportunity to make a gift this year, please consider supporting Birthright Israel Foundation today.