If there was ever a crucial time to equip the younger generations of Jews with knowledge and experiences of Israel, it is now. The US and countries worldwide have seen increases in antisemitism and misinformation campaigns targeted at Israel like never before. For those looking to combat antisemitism and lies about Israel, the time to act has come. And, one of the most important tools the Jewish people have right now is Birthright Israel.
Birthright Israel and Birthright Israel Foundation, the US fundraising arm, aim to provide this life-changing gift to nearly 50,000 young Jews each year. The basics of the educational journey boil down to securing a strong Jewish future through firsthand Israel education. Helping today’s Jewish young adults in the Diaspora feel strongly connected to their Jewish heritage and the land and people of Israel has never been more urgent. This educational trip has been proven to have a lasting effect on Jewish identity, family, community, culture, and continuity.
All of these reasons are why supporters and leaders like Howard Kivell are dedicated to the program.
Howard Kivell, a member of Birthright Israel Foundation’s Tri-State Leadership Cabinet, believes this program is the best way to make young Jewish adults the primary source on Israel and the Jewish people. “The best source is always the primary source, and Birthright Israel lets our kids be the primary source. When you can see things on the ground and look and poke around for yourself, it’s a different kind of experience than what you see in the media. A Birthright Israel trip allows a person to get a feel for what Israel is, and we all know there is nothing like being there,” shared Howard.
Birthright Israel Alumni Speak Up for Israel
Most of all, in recent months, Birthright Israel alumni are using the knowledge they gained on the trip to be a primary source of factual information on social media. Alumna Eden Cohen, the founder of the newsletter service, A Wider Frame, has used the platform’s social media following to help Gen Z and Millennials get a better overall understanding and scope of Jewish world news. A Wider Frame’s Instagram following continues to increase as more and more people, including young Jews, search for the facts.
Canadian Birthright Israel alumna and influencer Ashley Waxman Bakshi, who now lives in Israel, has used her fame on social media to combat misinformation about Israel through video content. In the last month, Ashley has published videos educating her followers on the most recent conflict and news surrounding Sheikh Jarrah.
Fellow Birthright Israel alumni like Elizabeth Savetsky, Elizabeth Sutton, Alexei Brovarnik have all been seen defending Israel’s right to exist and standing up against antisemitism in their communities. And they are only a small fraction of the program’s 750,000-plus participants who have benefitted from the Israel education on Birthright Israel thanks to the philanthropic support of donors like Howard Kivell and his family.
The Importance of the Israeli Perspective
However, Howard’s many reasons for supporting the program don’t end here. Like so many Jewish parents, he has seen the impact of Birthright Israel on his own children. Two of Howard’s three children participated in Birthright Israel and gained a newfound understanding of Israeli society through the Mifgash (Israeli participants). Howard shared that his children learned a lot from being with Israeli soldiers while on the trip. “Their experiences meeting the soldiers was enlightening. They learned they were totally normal people, and the fact that my kids saw them as normal people and as Jews being soldiers was interesting for them, especially here in America, where the percentage of Jews in the American military is so small. They shared with me they were impressed by the fact that these were everyday people. It reiterates the importance of including Israelis in the Birthright Israel program.”
If I Am Not for Myself, Who Will Be for Me?
Like so many concerned for the Jewish future, Howard and many other leaders feel the time has never been more urgent to get the younger generations involved. “Anything we can do as the elders to afford our children the opportunity to see with their own eyes what really takes place in Israel must be done. This trip gives them the ability to form their own opinions and spark an interest to become better advocates for themselves, the Jewish people, and Israel. Denying them this opportunity would be a terrible loss for the Jewish people,” says Howard.
Howard hopes that through his involvement with Birthright Israel Foundation, every Jewish young adult has the opportunity to claim their birthright. Like the many alumni speaking up for Israel as mentioned above, he hopes more join them. As the famous quote from Rabbi Hillel goes, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I? And if not now, when?”
Secure a Strong Jewish Future — Join Howard and Invest in Birthright Israel Today
Birthright Israel Foundation along with our nearly 40,000 annual supporters has given the gift of an educational trip to Israel to over 750,000 young Jews. More so, each one of them returns with pride in their Jewish identity and an everlasting connection to the people and land of Israel. When you make a tax-deductible donation today, you are empowering the next generation to stand up for the Jewish people and Israel. Now is your time to join Howard and help the next generation become advocates for Israel and the Jewish people by investing in Birthright Israel Foundation. Together, we can ensure a vibrant Jewish future for all.
Learn More About the Tri-State Regional Cabinets and Ambassador Councils
Birthright Israel Foundation established Regional Cabinets and Ambassador Councils as ways in which local lay leaders can further strengthen our mission of ensuring that every eligible young Jewish adult around the world is given the opportunity to visit Israel. Our Tri-State Cabinet and Ambassador Council members focus on fundraising efforts and Foundation updates in their local communities. To learn more about getting involved in the Tri-State area contact Andrew Bernstein:
Associate VP, Northeast Regionn