The Magic of Israel
Everyone has heard of Birthright Israel, but not everyone knows JCFR helps to fund this program. Under this initiative, 530,000 young adults have traveled to Israel. The three sources of funding for Birthright Israel are: the government of Israel, Major Donors to Birthright and Jewish Federations from around the United States and the Diaspora.
Birthright Israel provides a precious gift of an all-expense paid, educational trip to Israel for Jewish young adults ages 18-26, who have never before traveled to the Jewish State on an organized tour. Program founders believe it is every Jewish person’s birthright to visit Israel. We know participants return home with a greater appreciation of their Jewishness and a stronger sense of connection to the Jewish people and their communities. I know this first-hand!
All of my children (Adam, Zack and Anna) went on Birthright and I can attest to the fact the kids return from the experience profoundly and positively changed. When Adam landed at Ben Gurion Airport, things started to happen. My phone rang at home on his first day in Israel and I heard the voice of astonishment on the other end: “Dad it’s such a beautiful country!” He had just landed, but the clear blue skies, the green valleys and the view of “his country” already had Adam under Israel’s spell. I always say Israel does its magic and it certainly had for Adam from the moment his feet hit the “holy land.” The same was true for Zack and Anna.
Birthright participants connect to the modern state of Israel through bonding with their Israeli peers. In 2001 the Taglit-Birthright organization decided to add a “mifgash” (encounter) program to all Birthright trips where 5-10 Israeli peers, most often times Israeli soldiers, join the group for a significant portion of the trip. Extensive studies have shown that most Birthright participants will say that the mifgash experience was the most meaningful portion of their trip and deepened their own sense of global Jewish peoplehood and connection with the land. This is only one way in which members of our community encounter Israel.
Over the past six years, JCFR has sponsored many missions. We have had a Poland-Israel trip, an Israel Mission commemorating our 75th Anniversary, three Inter-faith trips and more.
So, when are you going to Israel next? As I write this article, our next trip to Israel is our Food and Wine trip, scheduled for Oct. 26 to Nov. 4. Some of the highlights of our trip will be tours and tastings at a variety of wineries and restaurants throughout Israel, visits to the Western Wall, a Masada and Dead Sea Excursion and much more.
This mission will be followed by an Interfaith Journey leaving Richmond Jan. 22 and returning Feb. 1, 2017. This journey includes visits to Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Masada, Nazareth, Mount of Beatitudes and the Sea of Galilee.
We are even contemplating a trip to Cuba in April 2017. Anyone interested in any of these trips should contact me. Call, write or email me and let me know if you are interested in joining us. Together, we can bring the power of Israel (and other destinations) to our young people and reignite the rest of us with trips of a lifetime.
As always, contact me at (804) 545-8622 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.