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No More Waitlists for Birthright Israel Trips?

New funding plan would add $30 million from Israeli taxpayers and donations

Romy Zipken
August 07, 2013
Birthright. (Columbia Hillel)
Birthright. (Columbia Hillel)

Oh, the stress of a Taglit-Birthright waitlist. All your friends have already been selected for their trip of choice, but your chances of making it to the Holy Land are looking slim to none—and those easy-to-nab winter trips are more appealing by the day. But you needn’t worry any longer, young Diaspora Zionist. A new initiative drawn up by the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office and the Jewish Agency is looking to end waitlists for Birthright, forever.

Since its inception, Birthright has brought over 340,000 young Jews to Israel, but in recent years its numbers have shrunk due to budgetary limitations. There’s hope yet. The new plan, which is said to cost about $30 million—and would be subsidized by Israeli taxpayers along with outside donations—would offer financial support for the mythical 10-day journeys, Haaretz reports. It’s not clear whether Israelis are interested in funding the trips, but Jewish Agency Director-General Alan Hoffmann seems confident.

Would Israeli taxpayers be willing to finance such an initiative? Hoffmann believes so. “I think that we have witnessed over the past 15 years a change in paradigm,” he said.

The idea stems from Israel’s attempt to step up its game with Jews worldwide.

Since Benjamin Netanyahu’s first term as prime minister, Hoffmann argued, Israeli heads of state have shown more willingness to invest in improving ties between Israel and young Jews around the world. Israeli leaders, he added, see world Jews as a “strategic asset.” Hoffmann praised Netanyahu for drafting the initiative and said it represented his “commitment to take this paradigm shift to the next level.

It’s unlikely this will take effect until 2015. So unless the initiative plans to extend the age cap beyond 26 years old, current 24 to 25-year-old hopefuls who have yet to float in the Dead Sea for free better not get their hopes up.

Related: The Roll

Romy Zipken is a writer and editor at Jewcy. Her Twitter feed is @RomyZipken.