Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

First Birthright Israel group lands in Tel-Aviv

NEW YORK & TEL AVIV — The first group of Birthright Israel, the largest educational tourism organization in the world, landed May 21 at Ben Gurion Airport, marking the resumption of activity following a yearlong Covid-19 pause. The participants are vaccinated students from the United States, arriving in Israel today for a 10-day educational tour. 

Dozens of more trips are expected during May and June, with many more tour groups planned for July, August, and October. The group that arrived today will visit the Golan Heights, Safed, Jerusalem, Masada, the Dead Sea and Tel Aviv, among others.

“I am extremely excited that we are renewing the connection between the Young Diaspora and the State of Israel,” says CEO of Birthright, Gidi Mark. “We’ve developed the best plan to safely and efficiently resume our trips, which play such a critical part in strengthening the Jewish identity of hundreds of thousands of young people around the world and connect them with the State of Israel. Following the rise of antisemitism over the past weeks, this is now more important than ever before”. 

“We have thousands of young Jewish adults who have signed up for our trips. In the coming weeks we will bring more groups, responsibly and safely” Mark added.

The organization emphasized that these participants, who are to return to their college campuses this coming summer, will be able to share the picture of reality to which they have been exposed to while in Israel to their fellows. Birthright presents them with the opportunity to experience Israel in an unmediated and authentic manner. 

As the organization announced last month, in order to attend a Birthright Israel trip, all fully vaccinated or recovered participants with one vaccine dose will be required to provide a negative PCR test before boarding a flight to Israel as well as take an antibody test upon their arrival at Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport. Additionally, Birthright Israel will work to secure the proper testing required by the CDC for re-entry into the United States. Each tour group this season will be made up of approximately 20 participants, compared to the pre-pandemic number of 40. 

The return of Birthright Israel programming marks the end of the only cancellations in the organization’s 20-year history. Before the outbreak of the pandemic, Birthright Israel had provided trips for more than 750,000 young Jewish Adults from 68 countries. In 2019 alone, the organization hosted 45,777 participants That number was topped only by the 48,000 participants it brought in 2018 Over the course of its two-decade existence, Birthright Israel trips have also contributed an estimated $1.825 billion to the Israeli economy.


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