Birthright trips are a high priority

Birthright trips are a high priority

For years, Jews, ages 18 to 26, have been taking advantage of Birthright’s free 10-day trip to Israel. However, due to the economic problems facing this country, Birthright announced last week it would cut $35 million from its budget and send 17,000 fewer Jews to Israel in 2009.
The economy is tough all over, and we understand that cuts must be made for programs to survive, but we urge the Birthright organization to do everything it can to raise the lost money and send those 17,000 Jews back to Israel in 2010.
At the same time, those in the 18 to 26 bracket should seriously consider taking advantage of the Birthright program — before it’s too late.
We don’t know what the future of our economy will be; who knows how long free 10-day trips to Israel will last. They are an exciting opportunity, and those young Jews who haven’t been to Israel shouldn’t let this chance pass them by.
At some point you will be too old to take a Birthright trip and that opportunity to go to Israel at no cost will have passed you by. It will be the trip of a lifetime you never took, and something you will truly regret.
There are other organizations that offer free trips to Israel and we encourage those interested in making the trip to check into those as well. Oranim and EZRA USA are just two examples. As far as we know, they haven’t announced any budget cuts.
Making the voyage to Israel is truly a birthright for all Jews, and while it may become harder to get into Birthright programs, we don’t think it should deter young people from filling out the application and applying for a December or summertime trip.
Even if you get put on a waiting list or rejected from the trip you want to go on, the short time it takes for you to fill out the application is definitely worth it.
And if you are one of the lucky ones who do get to go on the trip, you know that it was time well spent. Getting to explore the land where Jewish history lives is a must for all us.
When you are in Israel and experiencing the amazing sites and taking in everything, you won’t even remember the time it took to fill out that application months earlier — it would all be worth it.
In 2009, 25,000 Jews will make their first trip to Israel. While that number is a decrease from 2008, Birthright is still an amazing opportunity for young Jews and we hope it can survive these tough economic times. We would hardly be a responsible community if we didn’t prioritize our spending during tough economic times; we just think Birthright should be a high priority.