A History of Birthright Israel Foundation

In 1999, Birthright Israel was founded on a bold idea: provide the gift of a life-changing trip to Israel to Jewish young adults with the goal of securing—and transforming—the Jewish future. In 2004, Birthright Israel Foundation was created in order to help raise the funds needed to ensure this trip would be available today, tomorrow, and always.

Together, we stand firmly behind our joint mission and vision of offering this educational journey through the Jewish homeland.

Our Approach

Birthright Israel and Birthright Israel Foundation are committed to providing young adults with the gift of connection, community, and a love for the State of Israel. With offices in 11 different cities around the United States, we work to guarantee that the gift of a Birthright Israel trip is available to every Jewish young adult every single year.

Over 20 years, we have helped raise funds annually in order to send a total of 750,000 young adults and counting on this transformational trip. We believe that we’re not only changing the lives of Jewish young adults, but that we’re also transforming the Jewish future.

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The Lasting Impact of Birthright Israel

85 %
of alumni feel the trip was a life-changing experience
93 %
more likely to feel very connected to Israel than non-participants
84 %
of alumni are raising their children Jewish
54 %
of participants say it’s important to marry someone Jewish

Note: Statistics via Brandeis University Maurice & Marilyn Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies

Building Continuity with a Gift—Not a Free Trip

Birthright Israel is founded on three values that are central in the Jewish world: Unity, Continuity and Mutual Responsibility. The project itself is therefore a gift of the Jewish people to its younger members, given with no strings attached as a pledge by the State of Israel, worldwide Jewish communities, foundations and nearly 40,000 individual donors each year—all putting partisan and theological differences aside to ensure the vibrant future of world Jewry and the State of Israel.

More About Our Values

Our Essence – A Jewish Educational Experience in Israel

Birthright Israel is an introductory and intensive educational experience in Israel. Its mission is to create opportunities for participants to explore their Jewish identities, strengthen their connection to Israel and its diverse society, and ensure the vibrancy of the Jewish people worldwide. Birthright Israel regards Israel as a diverse mosaic of experiences, narratives, ideas, and places that can be effectively explored throughout the journey. As we maintain that Israel is a state of ideas and ideals—rather than an ideal state—Birthright Israel is committed to understanding Israel’s place as a Jewish, democratic, and sovereign state among the family of nations, and to preserving its historic and eternal standing as the homeland of the Jewish people.

Our Heart – Each Participant.

Birthright Israel is rooted in a person-centered educational approach. It views the needs and interests of young people as the starting point of its educational work, and aims to engage participants in meaningful and relevant dialogues with Jewish concepts, values, and living, as well as associations with their home communities and with Israel. Birthright Israel is therefore committed to offering all participants a sense of ownership over the educational process by empowering the active engagement and involvement of the learners as the captains of their own Jewish journeys.

Unity, Not Uniformity

Birthright Israel views the land, the State and the people of Israel as a vital laboratory to explore core questions of both past and contemporary Jewish values, ideas and life. Correspondingly, Birthright Israel’s programs are not structured as site-seeing trips, but as what we call “insight-seeing” journeys. The sites we explore are obviously important, yet serve a much higher purpose: to promote a culture of reflective and critical thinking through dialogue, discussion and the exchange of ideas in meaningful landscapes and supportive climates.

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Board of Directors

Birthright Israel Foundation’s Board of Directors is composed of diverse and talented people from across the country who are dedicated to building a foundation for a strong and vibrant Jewish future. Our board guides our organization and supports our mission through fundraising, working closely with our partners in Israel, and serving as ambassadors by sharing the life-changing power of the Birthright Israel experience.

Executive Committee

Thomas D. Stern
Chair
J. Philip Rosen
Vice Chair
Stephen M. Siderow
Vice Chair
Douglas M. Ross
Treasurer
Mark Charendoff
Lawrence J. Cohen
Lori Komisar

Board Members

Sara Aronson
Laurie Blitzer
Robert A. Clarfeld
Philip de Toledo
David Engel
Ex-Officio
Shawn Evenhaim
Rachel Cohen Gerrol
Joel Greenberg
Marjorie Honickman
John Hoover
Harry Krakowski
Michael A. Leven
Judith A. Levy
Marlene Post
Michael Rashes
Wendy Gould Shenfeld
Barry Swidler
Jane F. Wilf

Honorary Board Members

Madlyn Abramson z” l
Dr. Miriam Adelson
Sheldon G. Adelson
Charles R. Bronfman
Co-Founder
Susie Gelman
Chair Emeritus
Joshua Nash
Chair Emeritus
Daniel S. Och
Chair Emeritus
Lynn Schusterman
Jane F. Sherman
Michael H. Steinhardt
Co-Founder
Edgar M. Bronfman z” l

Key Leadership

Israel ("Izzy") Tapoohi
President & CEO
Jessica Feldan
Chief Development Officer
S. David Shapiro
Chief Financial Officer

 

Leadership Councils

Birthright Israel Foundation is fortunate to have active and engaged supporters across the country. As members of our regional Leadership Councils, donors serve as ambassadors by connecting members of their local communities to Birthright Israel Foundation in order to raise funds in support of Birthright Israel.

Please Note: We are currently reorganizing our Leadership Councils so that they can better serve your local community. If you have any questions, or if you would like to get involved, please contact us today.

Institutional Support

Birthright Israel Foundation works closely with Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), as well as individual federations, in order to better understand the needs of Birthright Israel alumni and the Jewish community at large. From partnering on fundraising efforts to helping young adults find their place in their communities, together we’re working to cultivate the next generation of Jewish leaders.

Through general support to Birthright Israel or targeted support for one of our special funding opportunities, we aim to ensure that our foundation funders are furthering their own missions and visions while helping us to achieve ours. We are pleased to work with interested foundations to develop a letter of intent (LOI) or grant proposal, aligned with your needs and interests.

Donate Now

Without your donations to Birthright Israel Foundation, this gift isn’t possible. Secure the Jewish future today by investing in this transformational trip for Jewish young adults.