More than 7000 Jewish young adults from all over the world (with 2000 Israeli soldiers among them) took part of Taglit-Birthright mega event in Latrun last Sunday.
The event, which was broadcasted live online, started with some Israeli food (Falafel for everyone!) and an exposition of many long term programs in Israel. Then in the amphitheater of Latrun the show began; fireworks lit up the skies of Jerusalem and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert welcomed Birthright participants.
The show featured dozens of Israeli dancers and singers performing live on stage, a helicopter bringing an IDF soldier from his base to the mega event and many other exciting moments before everyone sang “The Tikava” (the hope – Israel’s national anthem) and went back to their hotels to get prepared for the next day of their trip in Israel.
Taglit-Birthright Israel is a Jewish educational project which has become legendary throughout the Jewish world.
Its propose is to bring Jewish young adults from around the world closer to Israel and their Jewish Identity, in order to fight assimilation and strengthen the connection between the world Jewry and the state of Israel. For most participants, Taglit-Birthright Israel is an opportunity to discover modern Israel. Tens of thousands of marginally affiliated Jewish students and young adults get to see the country for the first time on an educational trip. This extraordinary experience enhances and enriches their Jewish identity and rejuvenates Jewish communities in the Diaspora.
Thousands of the project’s graduate have decided to move to Israel and tens of thousands are active advocates for Israel worldwide.
The Israelis participating in the project – tens of thousands so far – report that it has strengthened their connection to Judaism and to world Jewry, and has significantly increased their pride in the state and its achievements.
IDF commanders have reported a significant increase in the motivation of their soldiers who participated in the program.
Since Taglit-Birthright started in 2000, the project has created a major change in the way the young generation in the Diaspora relates to Israel. The number of participants coming to Israel from more than 50 countries is steadily increasing and has reached about 40,000 a year. This is almost 25 times more than the number of those who came before the project was launched.
To date, the Taglit-Birthright Israel project has contributed more than one billion shekels to the Israeli economy. Flights to Israel, hotels, buses, guides, staff, security guards, paramedics, shopping, visits to sites, etc. turn Taglit-Birthright Israel into a leading factor in the Israeli tourism industry.
The project became critically important during and following the Intifada in light of the crisis in all incoming tourism.
Summer 2008 is the biggest season ever of Taglit-Birthright with more than 40,000 participants from all around the world attending the 10-day trip offered by Birthright Israel and 5,000 Israeli peers (mostly Israeli soldiers) participating in the “Mifgash” (encounter) program.