For 18 years, Jewish Federation has supported local young adults’ participation on Birthright Israel, a free educational trip to Israel for young adults aged 18–26. Participants often return home brimming with enthusiasm for Jewish community life, but helping them engage in local Jewish community life has been a challenge—until now. This spring Jewish Federation launched an important new initiative that aims to harness that excitement by connecting young people with ways to build on their Birthright Israel experience and remain involved with the Jewish community locally and in Israel.
Harnessing Potential for New Involvement
The new program is a collaboration between Jewish Federation’s Israel and Overseas Affairs Department and Masa Israel. Upon returning home, Birthright Israel participants can now attend a one-on-one mentorship meeting. During the meeting, they are introduced to a variety of ways to become involved in the local Jewish community (such as with Jewish Federation’s Axis program). Participants also learn about further opportunities in Israel (like the array of immersive Israel experiences offered by Masa Israel).
This new initiative was designed in response to Jewish Federation’s 2020 Strategic Priorities, which identified the importance of engaging the next generation. The goal is for young adults to remain active participants in our community and to grow into our future leaders. The new follow-up program has already made an impressive impact, with 40 Birthright Israel alumni having participated in individual mentorship meetings.
Building Young Adults’ Connections to Israel
Israel experience trips have a huge impact on young people, strengthening their Jewish identity by fostering self-exploration, new friendships, and a personal connection to Israel. The trips kindle new passion and enthusiasm for Jewish life for many of the participants. Until this year, no program existed to follow up with alumni to build on their experience.
Jewish Federation is proud to be a long-time supporter of Israel experience trips for local youth and young adults. Through the Federation Annual Campaign, we subsidize one–third of Birthright Israel’s cost for each local participant. To date, we have helped send over 2,500 local young adults on a Birthright Israel trip. This year alone, over 160 local young adults will get to experience Birthright Israel.
Want to Learn More?
For more information on Birthright Israel follow-up programming, contact Dan Stern, coordinator, Israel and Overseas Department, Masa Israel Journey Initiative, at firstname.lastname@example.org.