Navigate to Community section

Free Trips to Israel, for Those Pressed for Time

Birthright launches seven-day tours for young professionals

Birthright Israel (sponsored)
September 19, 2016
Photo courtesy of Birthright Israel
Photo courtesy of Birthright Israel
Photo courtesy of Birthright Israel
Photo courtesy of Birthright Israel

Over the past 16 years, Birthright Israel has brought more than 500,000 young Jewish adults to Israel for its customary 10-day tour. As it continues to introduce new trip types based on participants’ interests, Birthright is offering a new seven-day option in an effort to cater to young professionals between the ages of 22 and 26. Registration for trips that will run between December of this year and March 2017 opened last week.

“The purpose of this trip offering is to allow those who are busy and having a hard time taking off work to still enjoy the trip,” said Noa Bauer, Birthright Israel’s VP of International Marketing. “We’re reaching out to young professionals who are committed to building their careers and can’t seem to take the full 10 days off work. Though it’s a shorter trip, it’s packed with all the great things that Israel has to offer. From experiencing the culture, history, and people to visiting all the prime locations such as Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, the Golan Heights, and Masada.”

Millennials, whom Birthright is targeting with its new trip, are working hard at their careers and may not have the luxury of much vacation time. According to a recent article in Forbes, three-quarters of those between the ages 20 and 34 worldwide work more than 40 hours per week. In the United States, the average young professional puts in 45.

What’s more, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, 23 percent of Americans don’t receive any paid vacation time. At the start of their careers, young Jews most likely aren’t receiving more than a few days off work per year, leaving precious little time for travel.

“As we try to focus on our customer needs, we’ve learned through research that time is a real constraint for the working audience and therefore developed this new opportunity to take fewer days off work and still be able to experience Israel through Birthright,” said Bauer.

As with all other Birthright trips, if someone has already attended, he or she is not eligible to sign up again. New applicants can now browse and choose online from hundreds of trip options to suit a wide range of interests and needs—including food, sports, arts, LGBTQ, and travelers with special needs.

Birthright held a pilot program for the seven-day trip back in March. Aidel Margolin, a 25-year-old Birthright tour group leader living in Jerusalem, said that despite the shorter timeline, she was able to show what Israel was all about.

“The seven days,” she said, “affords the participants the ability to soak in the Israeli culture, meet their Israeli peers, and get a grasp of the land politically and culturally—all while not giving up their own personal days back home. In a way, the abridged version has an advantage that allows the participants to bond quicker and learn things in a more concise and effective way.”

Having led at least a dozen 10-day tours, Margolin remarked that those on the trip were thankful for the ability to participate even with tight work schedules and limited time off. “The participants fully appreciated the program’s delivery of Israel under the lens of politics, geography, religion, culture, and history,” she said.

Matthew Misbin, the 26-year-old head of business development for the New York-based startup lynQ, was on the tour. “Birthright was, hands-down, one of the best experiences of my life,” he said. “My favorite part was how well-rounded the experience was. I saw family, made new friends, ate incredible food, immersed myself in Israel’s rich culture/history, and had a ton of fun enjoying Israel’s vibrant nightlife.”

Misbin planned his trip around his job, which started around the same time. He said he would “100 percent recommend the seven-day trip to friends and family.” He went so far as to say that it might be even better than the traditional trip in that it leaves more time for travelers to plan their own post-Birthright adventures.

Though the seven-day itinerary is condensed, the goal is the same: to connect young Jews to the people and the land of Israel—and their Jewish identities. “Our participants come from all Jewish backgrounds and experience Israel through its landscape, culture, tastes, and people in an adventurous way,” said Bauer. “We offer hundreds of trips to cater to participants from across the Jewish spectrum and every interest.”

Each year, 45,000 participants from 66 countries attend a Birthright Israel trip. The program is funded through the government of Israel, Jewish communities, philanthropists, and thousands of individual donors.

Birthright was founded in 1999 by a group of philanthropists, led by Michael Steinhardt and Charles Bronfman.

—Kylie Ora Lobell

Visit to sign up for a trip this winter.

This article has been sponsored by Birthright Israel. To register for a trip, click here.