1,000 ‘Birthright’ Alumni Now Live in Israel

One thousand birthright Israel alumni are now living in Israel as immigrants, soldiers or students, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Officials at birthright, a five-year-old program dedicated to encouraging Jews aged 18-26 to connect with the country and their heritage through free 10-day trips, said Monday that the program had sent some 75,000 young Jews from 40 countries to Israel. Birthright calculates that prior to the program’s inception, only 1,200 18- to 26-year-old Jews came to Israel on educational programs each year.

This winter, 8,500 are making the trip. Benjamin Seifert, who currently is on a Birthright trip in Israel, said he intended to return to Israel next summer to volunteer. Seifert, who now studies opera at the Royal Academy of Music in London, said the training he received in modern languages at Oxford had given him a familiarity with many foreign cultures. Yet, he noted, “I’ve never felt I’ve connected as much with a country as with Israel.” He added that the trip had also changed his image of the country, which he had been “very nervous” about visiting. “I though it was almost like going into a war zone, but I feel very safe,” he said, mentioning that he planned to share his experience with family and friends and provide them with a more accurate picture of the place.

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