If you’ve made it to this blog, you’ve probably heard your friends raving about “Taglit-Birthright Israel”, or simply “Birthright”, or even just “dude, free trip to Israel!” and you want to learn more. Well, you’ve come to the right place. My name is Ben, and I am an alumnus of the Birthright Israel Trip (December 2016, Israel Outdoors, SF Group).
My goal is to help readers decide whether the Birthright free trip to Israel is right for them. All of the opinions written on this site are purely my own. There’s no BS or ulterior motives here – just the straight, honest facts. I am not an employee of the Birthright Israel Foundation. I am a passionate alum who wants to make his own perspective available to others.
By the way, ALL of the photos and videos on this blog are from my trip!
Yalla – let’s go!
What is the Birthright Israel Trip?
The word Taglit sums the Birthright experience up perfectly. In the Hebrew language, the word Taglit means Discovery. This extremely well-funded program is hosted by the Birthright Israel Foundation and supported by Jewish philanthropists around the world. The mission of the Birthright Israel trip is to help Jews between the ages of 18-26 reconnect with Judaism, engage more deeply with their “Jewishness”, or perhaps even discover, for the first time, their unique Jewish identity.
The free trip to Israel comes in various flavors:
- Age: Birthright trips are typically broken into “younger” and “older” groups for obvious reasons. When you register for the trip, you’ll see the groups are 18-22 year olds and 23-26 year olds. I went on the 23-26 year old trip.
- Location: trips leave from tons of different metropolitan cities. Some trips are affiliated with a certain college/university, while others are “community” trips. In my opinion, “community” trips are the way to go – you’re sure to make new friends from outside your bubble because anyone can sign up for them. “College” groups are limited to students of that institution.
- Friends: Birthright registration makes it easy for friends to travel together and be in the same group.
- Trip Organizer: This is the single most important decision you’ll make when you register for Birthright Israel.
Is the Birthright Israel Trip Really Free?
Yes. The Birthright Israel Foundation pays for everything, which I would conservatively estimate is north of $3,000+ per person in round trip airfare, accommodations in Israel, transit, experiences, safety, guides and staff, etc. They are super generous, and don’t skimp on anything (although you’ll probably share a room or two). Your only financial commitment is paying a $250 deposit, which is refunded to you when you finish your trip. Here’s proof from my own inbox:
A Free Trip to Israel… What’s the Catch?
There’s no catch. You won’t be forced to enlist in the Israeli Defense Force, sign up for a Dead Sea timeshare, or anything like that. The Birthright Trip’s only purpose is to give Jews (even half Jews like me) the opportunity to experience the country of Israel at face value.
My sense is that by the end of your free trip to Israel, if you felt just a little more educated about or engaged with your own Jewishness, is that the Birthright Israel Foundation would see it as a huge success.
(Seriously, you’re not going to get opted in to any Zionist email lists.)