A new gift to the Taglit - birthright Israel program (BRI) will double to at least 20,000 the number of free summer trips to Israel offered by BRI this summer.
The gift is being made by The Adelson Family Charitable Foundation, established by philanthropists Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson, one of the world's richest people and the richest Jew in the United States.
The USD 25 million gift is in addition to a grant made by the Foundation to birthright Israel in December to fund 2,000 additional spaces for the winter session, and brings the Foundation's total contribution this year to USD 30 million. The Foundation anticipates making similar gifts to birthright Israel in future years.
Taglit - birthright Israel is funded by the Government of Israel, private philanthropists and Jewish communities around the world. The USD 25 million gift is contingent upon BRI’s other funding partners maintaining their annual collective commitment of USD 51 million.
Adelson, estimated by the Forbes Magazine to be worth over USD 16 billion, said, “The birthright Israel program is one of the best ideas our time has seen because it has the greatest potential to maintain the Jewish continuity in the face of growing assimilation.
"By founding the birthright program, Michael Steinhardt and Charles Bronfman have given one of the greatest gifts to the Jewish people in our generation. We applaud their creativity and generosity, and we are privileged and honored to provide the resources to enhance the program and solidify its future,” he said.
Dr. Miriam Adelson, a physician and Israeli native, said, “Israel has an important role in Jewish life worldwide, and I am honored to be able to help thousands of young Jews to personally experience the Jewish homeland. The program’s success has convinced us that our donation would be well utilized.”
Tourism industry to reap USD 36.5 million
Michael Bohnen, who recently joined the Foundation as its President, said he was pleased that birthright Israel is his first involvement in the Adelsons’ philanthropic efforts.
“The Adelsons found that the mission of birthright Israel is consistent with their own: To affect a profound transformation in Jewish life by building a personal connection and commitment to Jewish community and the State of Israel,” he said.
BRI provides free, first-time, peer group, educational trips to Israel for Jewish young adults ages 18-26.
Since its launch in 2000, the program has brought 120,000 eligible Jewish young adults from 51 countries around the world to the Jewish state. BRI estimates that in any given year, 80,000-100,000 Jews around the world are eligible for the birthright Israel gift. The long-term goal is to provide trips to at least half of eligible Jews annually.
The extra capacity provided by the gift will eliminate the long waiting lists that were necessary the last two years. BRI Co-founding Chairman, Michael H. Steinhardt said, “The birthright Israel venture has proven to be one of the most successful educational projects in the Jewish world. This extraordinary gift moves us closer to making a trip to Israel a standard rite of passage for every young Jew.”
The Foundation’s gift will boost BRI’s contribution to the Israeli economy. The program has already generated more than USD 220 million in tourism revenue, and the summer trip is predicted to generate over USD 36.5 million for the industry.