Birthright Israel

Judaism 2030 And Israel

One of the great things about our high-tech world is that — by e-mailing files back and forth, scheduling everything on Google Calendar and relying almost solely on my cell phone — I can, fairly seamlessly, work from home three days a week.

Alas however, one thing Google cannot yet remedy for me is my tendency to leave reporter’s notebooks in the wrong places, to lose them altogether and to forget which bag and which notebook I was using when.

Which is why today, as I am at the Jewish Week’s Times Square headquarters (doesn’t that make us sound all impressive?) and am supposed to be blogging about last week’s Jewish Outreach Institute "Judaism 2030" conference, my notebook from said conference is at this moment lying on the floor of my home office. (A rather grandiose description of the tiny third bedroom in our apartment, where my IKEA desk, laptop and cheap all-in-one printer/scanner/copier compete for space with an exercise bike and stacks of yet-to-be sorted laundry.)

Birthright Gets Record Number of Applicants


NEW YORK (JTA) -- Birthright Israel said it has received a record-breaking number of North American applicants for its free, 10-day trips to Israel.

The organization, which provides all-expense-paid trips to Israel for Diaspora Jews aged 18 to 26, received 40,108 applicants during the seven-day registration period ending Tuesday.

Israel's Minister For Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs, Yuli Edelstein, called it "the most successful project in the Jewish world.”

Boost For Birthright Funding; Tipping Point Seen

More than half of all 18- to 26-year-old diaspora Jews expected to have a free Israel trip by 2013.
Editor And Publisher

A new landmark in the effort to strengthen Jewish identity and positive connection to Israel among diaspora youth was reached with the announcement by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu that his government has approved $100 million in funding for Birthright Israel over the next three years.

LimmudUK: Success On A Grand Scale

Jewish learning conference attracts 2,000 — but not chief rabbi.
Editor and Publisher

Two of the most successful efforts to strengthen Jewish identity in recent years were created, and have been sustained, in opposite ways.

Much has been written, here and elsewhere, about Birthright Israel, which has provided a 10-day Israel experience to more than 250,000 young people in its first decade. A top-down creation, Birthright was conceived and funded by a small group of mega-philanthropists, offering these memorable trips as a gift, free of charge to participants ages 18 to 26.

Gary Rosenblatt

Why I Don’t Share Beinart’s Pessimism

How Zionist education, Birthright can strengthen Israel support.
Editor And Publisher

Is it true, as Peter Beinart suggested in his widely read New York Review of Books essay in June, that young American Jews are increasingly alienated from Israel because of its allegedly declining commitment to democratic ideals?

Agree with him or not, the former New Republic editor hit a raw nerve among many Jews when he wrote “The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment,” setting off a discussion that continues to stir debate six months later.

Gary Rosenblatt

When Getting Engaged To A Gentile Leads To Greater Jewish Engagement

A touching article last week about Michael Kellogg, a 24-year-old Birthright Israel participant who tragically died on the trip, offered yet another reminder of how outdated and inaccurate much of the old conventional wisdom about intermarriage is.

The Jerusalem Post piece, written by former Jewish Week staffer (and now blogger) Sharon Udasin, notes that Kellogg, raised secular, started attending synagogue a few years ago when his non-Jewish fiancée, Hope Fargis, encouraged him to research his roots and explore his faith.

Birthright participant dies in sleep


JERUSALEM (JTA) -- A Birthright Israel participant died in his sleep on the last night of his trip.

Michael Kellogg, 24, of Virginia, died last week during a Birthright trip for young professionals, The Jerusalem Post reported. Kellogg's family lives in Connecticut, where he will be buried.

An autopsy is being conducted on the body, the Post reported. Kellogg was being treated for a medical condition, according to the newspaper.

Fellow participants said Kellogg got a lot out of the trip and added to it, The Jerusalem Post reported 

My Name Is Rachel Cohen

My younger daughter is named Sophie, and my husband never ceases to give me a hard time whenever we, as we frequently do, encounter another little Sophia/Sophie/Sofia.

“I warned you that you were condemning her to a lifetime of being known as Sophie M!” he says. His preference was “Sage,” but hey, I won the coin toss. (Yes, the hotly contested name was really determined by a coin toss — Ellie, then 2, did the honors!)

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