Go on an Is­rael trip, marry a Jew

The Jewish Chronicle - - World News - BY PAUL BERGER NEW YORK

A NEW study claims to have found a cure for young Jews drop­ping out of the com­mu­nity. It costs about $2,500, lasts 10 days and is called Taglit-Birthright Is­rael.

Taglit sends Jews aged 18 to 26 who have never been to Is­rael, on a free, 10-day trip to the Jewish state. Its goal, when it launched in 1999, was to foster the con­nec­tion be­tween young Jews, Is­rael and the Jewish com­mu­nity.

Pro­fes­sor Leonard Saxe of Bran­deis Uni­ver­sity this week re­vealed the find­ings of a five-month study of Taglit alumni who went to Is­rael be­tween 2001 and 2004.

Taglit par­tic­i­pants were 57 per cent more likely to be mar­ried to an­other Jew and 30 per cent more likely to view rais­ing chil­dren as Jews as “very im­por­tant”, com­pared with non-par­tic­i­pants. One in six Taglit alumni said the trip had made them more likely to marry a Jew and/or raise their chil­dren as Jews. Prof Saxe also found that Taglit’s im­pact was strong­est on those from “less en­gaged Jewish back­grounds”.

The study fo­cused on more than 2,000 peo­ple, di­vided be­tween those who went on the trip and those who ap­plied but did not go. It was co-funded by Taglit-Birthright Is­rael.

About 225,000 young Jews have gone on Birthright, mostly from the US and Canada. Three hun­dred Jews from the UK par­tic­i­pate each year.

The group’s an­nual bud­get is $80$100 mil­lion. At its fund­ing peak, in 2008, it sent 40,000 Jews to Is­rael. How­ever, the re­ces­sion has hit the fi­nances of many phi­lan­thropists and foun­da­tions, in turn hurt­ing Taglit.

“This pro­gramme works and we now have re­search to sub­stan­ti­ate it,” said CEO Gidi Mark. “The only prob­lem now is to find the money.”

Birthright Is­rael par­tic­i­pants ride camels in the Negev desert. New re­search shows that par­tic­i­pants are more likely than non­par­tic­i­pants to marry an­other Jew. Fund­ing for the free trip comes from the world’s rich­est man, Shel­don Adel­son ($20m in 2009), the Jewish Agency ($5m), the Jewish Fed­er­a­tions of North Amer­ica ($7m) and Is­rael’s gov­ern­ment ($17m)

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