Reader Post: How Did Taglit-Birthright Begin?
So, you’ve signed up for this season’s trip. You’re excited and ready to go, got your passport and hiking shoes, maybe a new backpack. You have been offered an all expenses paid trip to Israel, no catch, completely free. In all of your excitement and preparation, you mightn’t have had a chance to ask the question: How did this happen?
Well, in 1994 Charles Bronfman and Michael Steinhardt, two philanthropists, had an idea to connect the diaspora with Jews living in Israel. They connected with the Israeli government (Dr. Yossi Beilin, then an MK, was an initial formulator and early proponent), private philanthropists, the Jewish Agency for Israel, and Jewish communities around the world to sponsor a ten-day trip to Israel. Their aim was – and remains – for Jewish young adults to experience the places and activities that represent the stories and people of the past and present. The word ‘Taglit’ in Hebrew means discovery. During their trip, participants, most of whom are visiting Israel for the first time, are encouraged to discover new meaning in their personal Jewish identity and connection to Jewish history and culture.
Top educators, historians and tourism professionals were assigned the task of planning the ten day program and they definitely filled it to the brim. There is a lot to see in Israel and not a minute is wasted; sleeping can be done on the bus while traveling between destinations!
Since Taglit-Birthright Israel trips began in the winter of 1999, more than 360,000 young people from 64 countries have participated in the program. We can’t wait to see you here soon!