Birthright Israel Foundation’s donors all have their own special and unique reasons for supporting the program. Many of our supporters grew up only dreaming of visiting Israel. Birthright Israel to them is almost a miracle. For others, giving to Birthright Israel Foundation fulfills their philanthropic priorities in supporting educational experiences for the next generation.
Long-time Michigan donors Andi and Larry Wolfe sat with us recently and explained why they support the program. For them, Birthright Israel hits on nearly all their philanthropic interests, which include Jewish Identity, Israel, Education, and Medical Research. When the couple speaks of Israel, its technology, its landscape, and people – they light up. For them, supporting the only Jewish state goes without question. “We need young people to understand the importance of a strong and vibrant Israel. It is far from a perfect state; it is a real country with real problems (some self-inflicted). Birthright Israel gives participants an opportunity to view Israel with a wide lens,” says Andi Wolfe.
The couple’s generous contribution to Birthright Israel Foundation sends nearly 10 young Jewish adults to Israel each year. The couple plays a crucial role in ensuring the future of Jewry in Michigan and throughout the Greater Midwest. Young adults like Gabi Alter, of Grand Rapids, MI says the program opened her eyes. “Going on Birthright Israel and seeing other Jews not being scared of being persecuted feels so good. Plus, in Israel, all Jews are encouraged to be who they want to be. As a psychologist, I really appreciate this.”
Larry believes Birthright Israel impacts local communities and college campuses once the young adults’ return. “Most College students, upon their return get involved in something Jewish. They will go to their campus Hillel to better understand Hillel’s purpose and the issues surrounding Jewish students on their campus. They come back and question policies, processes, and even diplomacy, not in a negative sense, but to better understand all sides of the complex issues facing Israel and the Jewish people. Birthright Israel is an educational tool for our young participants which allows them to question, get involved, and support the State of Israel with facts and experiences they have encountered.”
Similar to alumna Gabi, Jaime Bean, from Huntington Hills says one of the most important Jewish experiences she had was going on Birthright Israel. “Not only did Birthright Israel give me a new community of amazing people, but it also gave me a new perspective on Israel and a relationship where there previously wasn’t one. Going on the trip gave me a deeper connection to the land and made me feel a stronger connection to the greater Jewish community,” shared Jaime.
Inspired by Birthright Israel trips and a desire to help even more people experience Israel, the Wolfe’s began their own version of the trip for 40-somethings in Detroit. They shared with us that it is important to assist people who have not been to Israel so they might better understand the importance of the State, our heritage, our traditions and our legacy over 3,000 years. The Wolfe’s hope this style of trip shows people the modern side of Israel as well, the humanitarian side. “When you support young people going to Israel it becomes their catalyst in finding their Jewish connection…At the end of the day, if we don’t help each other, no one will,” said Larry.
So far, nearly 14,000 young Jewish adults from Michigan and over 1,000 from Detroit have claimed their birthright. This is in large part due to the generosity of Andi and Larry Wolfe along with many other local philanthropists who take pride in building a better and brighter Jewish future for all.
You can become a stakeholder in the Jewish future and inspire young adults in your community when you give to Birthright Israel Foundation today.