Birthright Israel Foundation today named Elias Saratovsky its next president and chief executive officer. Saratovsky will assume the role on September 1 after 21 years at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), where he served in successive leadership roles across the organization. He will succeed Israel “Izzy” Tapoohi, who is retiring at the end of the year.

Saratovsky is an alum of Birthright Israel’s first round of trips in the winter of 1999–2000. He attributes his career in the Jewish communal and pro-Israel field to his transformational experience on Birthright Israel.

“As a first-generation American with parents from the former Soviet Union and grandparents who survived the Holocaust, my formal connection to Judaism was limited. However, my passion for the state of Israel was always strong,” Saratovsky said. “My connection deepened on my Birthright Israel trip. I remember standing at Birthright’s Mega Event in Jerusalem alongside thousands of other young Jewish adults from all over the world. That trip shaped my identity and helped me realize that Israel is a central part of our history and our collective Jewish consciousness. I now have the honor to ensure that future generations develop their own Jewish identity and build a lifelong, personal connection with the State of Israel.”

Saratovsky graduated Muhlenberg College in 2002, then began a 21-year career at AIPAC, where he served in senior leadership roles across the United States, including Pacific Northwest Regional Political Director, Southwest Regional Director and, most recently, National Director of Regional Affairs.

“Since its creation in 1999, Birthright Israel has profoundly impacted more than 800,000 lives and enriched the Jewish community worldwide,” Saratovsky said. “This is a critical moment in Jewish history, where young Jewish adults are looking to form a deeper and more personal connection to the State of Israel and to each other. Through Birthright Israel, our community will help deliver a transformative experience, instilling in them unwavering confidence and deep pride in their Jewish heritage and the Jewish State. I look forward to leading this organization – one that so greatly impacted my life – as we work to provide tens of thousands of young Jewish adults every year with life-changing experiences in Israel on our 10-day trip, Onward and Excel programs.”

“Twenty-three years ago, when our first participants exercised their birthright by going on this gift trip to Israel, we had no idea how they would be impacted. It has been historic,” said Birthright Israel co-founder Charles Bronfman. “It’s incredible to have as our new president/CEO an alumnus from the very first year of Birthright trips. Elias brings both the skills necessary for this role and a real understanding of the magic of this program. I have total confidence that under his leadership, Birthright Israel Foundation will achieve new heights.”

“Birthright Israel is the largest-scale educational project in Jewish history and has transformed hundreds of thousands of lives, including Elias’,” said Dr. Miriam Adelson. “I look forward to working with Elias to grow the support from the greater Jewish community so that we can continue to transform the lives of as many Jewish young adults as possible.”

“We could not be more excited that Elias will be leading the Birthright Israel Foundation team,” stated Phil de Toledo, chair of Birthright Israel Foundation’s board of directors. “We are also thankful to Izzy for his leadership and dedication to our mission over the last seven years. Under his leadership, the Birthright Israel Foundation team has raised funds that have helped nearly 200,000 participants go on a Birthright Israel program. We are confident that he and Elias will work on a seamless transition for our organization.”

About Birthright Israel Foundation

Birthright Israel Foundation raises funds in the United States to support Birthright Israel, an educational trip that ensures every eligible young Jewish adult around the world, especially the less connected, is given the opportunity to visit Israel and strengthen their Jewish identity.

About Birthright Israel

Birthright Israel is the largest educational tourism organization in the world that aims to provide every Jewish young adult with the opportunity to have a transformational experience in Israel that strengthens Jewish identity and connection to the Jewish community and Israel. Birthright Israel offers multiple short- and mid-length programs and since its inception in 1999, more than 800,000 young Jewish adults from 68 countries have received this gift of a 10-day trip, introducing them to the country’s ancient roots and modern wonders and allowing them to discover their own Jewish identity. Additionally, more than 10,000 people have attended internships, academic studies, and fellowships through Onward Israel, and over 1,000 Jewish young adults have attended the highly selective Excel Fellowship and are now part of the global Birthright Israel Excel Fellows community.