Studies carried out recently among US Jews indicate that only one in five has visited, or is planning to visit Israel.
The worrying findings have led the UJA Federation of New York to present an innovative plan: "Birthright
for Boomers" - a tourism program aimed at adults that follows the outline of programs already in place for the younger generation.
Next week the project's first group is set to arrive in Israel. According to Michael Lax, who is leading the initiative, the absolute majority of US Jews have never visited Israel. When asked why, the usual response is that at some point they would really like to visit Israel, but it is very clear from their response that it isn't really at the top of their list of priorities.
Lax says that the UJA decided that Israel needed to be marketed to Jews in the US in a more attractive way that will also allow them to connect in some way with their children.
Nancy Powers of the UJA Federation of New York says that the response was beyond their expectations. She noted that dozens of people wanted to take part in the project but that for logistic reasons only 34 would be able to take part in the first trip; but she added that additional trips are on the cards.
The first group includes people in their 50s and 60s who will all be visiting Israel for the first time, many of them have children who have visited Israel through similar programs.
Yet one major difference between the birthright for adults and the Taglit birthright project – each adult will have to pay the sum of $5,000, whereas the kids came for free. Still, they, unlike the younger generation, will be staying at luxury hotels.
Rick and Arlene Morse, 55, from Long Island have already started physical training for the climb on Masada. They said that they were very excited to finally be going to Israel and wanted to ensure that they were ready for any undertaking.