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Birthright Israel to Resume Trips in May

Eligibility is limited to individuals from the United States between the ages of 18 and 32 who are vaccinated against COVID-19 or have recovered from the coronavirus.
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April 27, 2021
Photo from Facebook/Taglit-Birthright Israel

Birthright Israel, the largest educational tourism organization in the world, on Monday announced its first trips to Israel following a COVID-19 pause would resume in May.

The last Birthright Israel trip prior to the COVID-19 shutdown concluded on March 13, 2020

Eligibility is limited to individuals from the United States between the ages of 18 and 32 who are vaccinated against COVID-19 or have recovered from the coronavirus.

Dozens of trips are expected in May and June, and more than 400 tour groups are expected for July, August and October.

“Two values we’ve always prioritized are our impeccable safety record and our commitment to innovation in ways that meet the needs of our participants and the demands of our changing world,” Gidi Mark, international CEO of Taglit-Birthright Israel, said in a statement. “With the input of Israel’s Health Ministry, we’re confident that we’ve developed the best plan to safely and efficiently resume our trips, which play such a critical part in strengthening the Jewish identity of hundreds of thousands of young people around the world. The last year has been hard, but we never lost hope that there was light at the end of the tunnel. Now, the wait is over and it is time to come back to Israel on Birthright Israel.”

The organization is taking measures toward ensuring the safety of trip participants. Everyone will be required to provide a negative PCR COVID-19 test before boarding a flight to Israel as well as an antibody test once arriving at Ben-Gurion Airport. The use of personal protective equipment and social distancing guidelines will be based on government policies, and Birthright Israel will work to secure the proper testing required by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for reentry into the United States.

The organization is taking measures toward ensuring the safety of trip participants.

Each tour group will be made up of approximately 20 participants, compared to the approximately 40 participants making up a typical group prior to the pandemic.

The resumption of trips marks the end of the only cancellation in Birthright Israel’s more than 20-year history. Since its founding in 1999 by a group of philanthropists, including Charles Bronfman and Michael Steinhardt, Birthright Israel has provided free 10-day educational tours in Israel for more than 750,000 Jewish young adults representing nearly 70 countries.

“When the first Birthright Israel groups took off in December of 1999, we could never have imagined all of the incredible milestones we would hit in just 20 years,” Bronfman, co-founder of Birthright Israel, said in a statement. “The pandemic has been heartbreaking for all of us. Needless to say, the pause in our program was so sad, but I’m thrilled to know that our participants will soon be back in Israel. The magic continues.”

According to Birthright Israel, enthusiasm for the trips remains high. In its announcement about the resumption of tours the organization cited a recent survey conducted by Leonard Saxe, director of the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University, polling those who had signed up to attend a future trip. Saxe found about half of respondents reported that partaking in Birthright was “very much a priority” once it was safe to do so.

The organization operates with the support of the Birthright Israel Foundation, which raises critical funding in the United States to support the educational program. Izzy Tapoohi, president and CEO of the Birthright Israel Foundation, said the resumption of trips marks the next stage in Birthright Israel’s journey.

“We open the next chapter of Birthright Israel’s story ready to continue carrying out the mission that our founders laid before us, to give every young Jewish adult around the world the opportunity to visit Israel on an educational trip,” Tapoohi said.

The Birthright Israel announcement comes as Israel continues to lead the world with the highest vaccination rate and reportedly is nearing herd immunity.

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