Nearly 20,000 young adults participated in the Taglit-Birthright Israel
trips this past summer, among them 10,526 registered students from over 712 colleges and universities across North America.
Students hailed from schools ranging from large universities with substantial Jewish populations to small colleges – representing approximately 20% of all colleges and universities in the United States and Canada.
“Taglit-Birthright Israel is performing an amazing service for both the State of Israel and the Jewish people,” said Israel's Ambassador to the US Michael Oren.
“The opportunity to experience first-hand the energy, beauty, and spirit of Israel is one which will stay forever with all the participants, and dispel the anti-Israel myths they may encounter on college campuses.”
“With Israel’s reputation very much in jeopardy on many college campuses, the fact that so many students from so many schools were in Israel this summer – and are able relate from their personal experience of being there – will hopefully change the climate on North American college campuses,” said Taglit-Birthright Israel International CEO Gidi Mark.
The University of Michigan had the highest trip representation with 326 students, followed by the University of Florida with 226 students, Indiana University with 200 participants, and University of Maryland and University of Pennsylvania both with 165 participants each.
Among student participants, 3,500 traveled together with students from their schools, on 89 campus-based buses.
Some of these campus buses were affiliated with or sponsored by local Jewish Federations, donors and foundations, in an effort to increase the number of participants from their respective communities. Their efforts produced a record number of community trips, with 65 buses representing more than 30 communities.
“Our partnership with Jewish Federations and local communities is growing stronger and stronger,” said Birthright Israel Foundation President Robert Aronson. “It is wonderful to see the growing number of community trips and their participants return home to become involved in their communities.”
This summer, more than 40,000 Jewish young adults in North American had applied for nearly 15,000 summer trip spots, a record number of North American applicants, filling available openings in the shortest registration period ever.
While the majority of this summer’s participants came from the US and Canada, there was a significant number from other countries, such as Russia with 1,006 participants, Argentina with 449, and Germany with 439. In all, participants this summer hailed from 45 countries, including 35 participants from India, three from Finland and five from Cuba.
By the year 2013, Taglit-Birthright Israel would like to send 51,000 young Jewish adults annually on the free, 10-day educational trip. This would mean that, at this participation rate, within a decade, one in every two Jewish young adults worldwide would participate in a Taglit-Birthright Israel trip.
In January, the Israeli government announced
it would contribute $100 million in funding over the next three years to achieve the 51,000 goal, contingent on funds raised in North America and worldwide.