What’s the game plan when you have over 750,000 alumni spread out across 68 countries amidst a global pandemic? Connect them. That’s exactly what Birthright Israel is doing with their new initiative, Birthright Israel Connect. The online program aims to connect alumni of the program with each other through trained facilitators and educators. Each session aims to spark meaningful conversations about the effects of COVID-19 in their home countries while providing a platform where young Jews can share their thoughts and personal stories.

“We believe Birthright Israel Connect can build a bridge between our alumni, especially during times of social distancing where many can feel far away from their communities, friends, and family,” says Gidi Mark, CEO of Birthright Israel.

And of course, like every Birthright Israel trip, Birthright Israel Connect was carefully thought out and planned to provide a platform for a unique experience. The team at Birthright Israel began by running two pilot sessions, the first with eight participants and the second with ten. These sessions included alumni from the US, Canada, Germany, The Netherlands, Russia, Israel, and France. The goal of the pilot was used to gauge interest among the alumni and ensure the conversations had would be beneficial to everyone.  

Birthright Israel Connect participants
Birthright Israel Connect participants

Birthright Israel officially launched the program earlier this month. Within days of launching, 474 alumni applied from 35 countries. Due to the success, a third Birthright Israel Connect session is planned for Sunday, May 17th. This specific event will host 50-100 participants and will also include participants from Latin America and will begin as a large group discussion with a facilitator and then participants will be divided into subgroups for intimate conversations. A US Birthright Israel staff member will be assigned to each sub-group to ensure a smooth transition.

Gidi Mark also tells us, “Our goal for the US staff is to help the group transition into intimate conversations and share their personal experience from their home country during COVID-19 and thoughts of how the world will be affected post-crisis. They also share with each other hobbies they’ve started to maintain to keep good mental health. Birthright Israel is a global community and through these types of initiatives we hope to keep our alumni connected and feel part of a larger community.”

Know someone who is a Birthright Israel alumni? Don’t let them miss out on this opportunity to find community through conversation. Visit bit.ly/briconnect_learnmore.