Reflections on Taglit-Birthright Israel

Open Access
Author:
Taubman, Tatyana
Area of Honors:
Jewish Studies
Degree:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Brian Hesse, Thesis Supervisor
  • Alan Fredric Benjamin, Faculty Reader
  • Gretchen Casper, Faculty Reader
Keywords:
  • birthright israel
  • taglit
Abstract:
In December 1999, under the umbrella of Taglit-Birthright Israel, an initial group of Jews ages 18-26 boarded a plane for a free trip to Israel. Now, to date, over 225,000 young Jewish adults from over 50 countries have been sent to Israel on a free educational trip provided by the Taglit-Birthright organization (Saxe, Phillips, et al. 2009, 1). Jewish philanthropists and the Israeli government have donated hundreds of millions of dollars to the program-all in hopes of rebuilding the Jewish identity among the Diaspora youth. Given the mass number of participants, high expectations of the program, as well as the extraordinary amount of resources being spent, it is important to study the effects of Taglit-Birthright Israel accurately and comprehensively. While Birthright funds an extensive and ongoing body of research that surveys participants about the impacts of their trip, a qualitative, individually focused approach can uncover a great deal of insight about the Birthright experience and identify possible areas that require improvement. Through the narratives of eleven Birthright Israel alumni, I show how Birthright affects a small sample of participants on an individual level in hopes of revealing the areas in which the program has been succeeding, and also the areas that may need reform.