On Tuesday, January 23, 2024, Wendy & Elliot Koolik generously hosted Woodfield Country Club’s first event in support of Birthright Israel Foundation. The Kooliks, deeply connected to the cause, have seen two out of their three children embark on Birthright Israel’s classic 10-day journey. Their youngest son, Justin, not only participated in the program but also secured a coveted spot in the prestigious Birthright Israel Excel fellowship. The event kicked off with Wendy Koolik delivering poignant remarks that illuminated the profound impact Birthright Israel has had on their family.


Following Wendy, Julia Pratt, a dear friend of the Koolik family and a distinguished alum of Birthright Israel Onward, took to the podium. Julia shared her personal journey, recounting how her Onward internship became the catalyst for her transformation into a driven Jewish professional and a dynamic young leader. Her story resonated with the audience, highlighting the enduring influence of Birthright Israel beyond the 10-day experience. The keynote speaker, Professor Barry Shrage, added an academic perspective by presenting decades of research affirming the lasting impact of Birthright Israel’s program on the next generation. Birthright Israel Onward alum Brendan Schneier briefly contributed by sharing his meaningful experience volunteering in Israel this past November. Elliot Koolik concluded the program with a compelling call to action, urging the community to step up and support Birthright Israel.

Watch Justin Koolik Describe His Birthright Israel Experience

Justin Koolik, Wendy & Elliot’s son, is currently studying abroad but felt compelled to participate in the event and share the importance of Birthright Israel’s programs on his generation.

Photos from the Event