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Birthright The trip lasts ten days, but the memories last a lifetime

Jan 17, 2013

Alarmed at the high numbers of young Jews who had never been to Israel, and the implications for the future of North American Jewry, a group of philanthropists decided to create a unique first time experience. Eligible participants would receive a free trip to Israel to explore their birthright in person. 
 
These funders, including Winnipeg’s Asper Foundation, believed a trip to Israel strengthens Jewish identity and is the best way to build a lasting bond between young Jewish people around the world and their peers in Israel. In the years since that decision was taken, over 300,000 young Jews from 59 different countries have gone on Taglit-Birthright trips. In Canada, the Canada Israel Experience delivers a 10 day free trip for eligible Jews between the ages of 18 - 26 years old.
 

“Birthright is a once in a lifetime opportunity (or if you're lucky enough to lead a trip, twice in a lifetime) that you really shouldn’t miss. The friendships you'll make, the places you see and the experiences you'll have stay with you, and leave you wanting more,” says Samantha Gorlick, a Marketing and Communications young professional.

,Each trip is comprised of 40 participants that travel together by bus throughout the ten days. In addition to the participants, staff consists of two local staff members, or madrichim, who fly with the group to Israel, one Israeli tour educator, and an Israeli medic/security guard. Additionally, the bus driver is considered part of the team.


“When I learned I would be leading a Birthright trip last summer, I knew I was in for something special, but I never imagined just how special that opportunity would be. The participants on my trip were young adults from Winnipeg and Ontario. Although most participants didn't know each other, I knew right away we had an incredible group. Our guide and our bus driver created a sense of family right from the get-go and by the end of our ten days together we all developed friendships that would last a lifetime,” Samantha confirmed.

The content of the trip focuses on three main areas: Narratives of the Jewish People, Contemporary Israel, and the Formative Values of Judaism. This is an educational program delivered through touring, hiking, discussions, social events, camel and jeep rides.
 
Samantha continued, “This was my second trip to Israel. My first visit was my own birthright trip. Experiencing Israel a second time through the eyes of the participants was truly unforgettable. Climbing Masada, swimming in the Dead Sea, and volunteering at a school in Bat Yam created memorable stories for each of us and made this experience special. And I was able to relive the excitement and awe of my own Taglit-Birthright Israel trip.”

A key component of the trip is meeting Israelis of the same age, many of whom are serving in the Israel Defense Forces. This is an opportunity to get to know Israel through its people. Together, Israelis and their peers in the Diaspora explore their views about personal, religious, and political identities and ideologies.  For more information, visit israelforfree.com, or contact Hart Jacob, Leadership Development Director, at [email protected]. Funds raised by the Combined Jewish Appeal’s annual campaign help support Taglit-Birthright Israel. If you haven’t yet made your 2012 contribution, please call 204.477.7428 today, or visit jewishwinnipeg.org to donate online.

 
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.