birthright israel Trips Have Long-Term Impact

A new study of applicants to the Taglit-birthright israel from 2001-2005 finds that the experience in Israel continues to influence them years later.

Taglit-birthright israel trip participants are more confident explaining Israel’s situation to others and more likely to feel very connected to Israel than peers who did not go on a trip. Trip participants are also 50 percent more likely to be married to a Jewish spouse.

These are among the findings in The Impact of Taglit-birthright israel: 2010 Update, a study released by Brandeis University’s Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies. The study is part of a longitudinal project that examines the ways in which Jewish identity and decision-making shift during the life course of Jewish young adults.

A follow up to the Cohen Center’s 2009 Generation birthright israel report, the latest publication extends earlier research and includes another cohort of applicants, more of whom are now married. The study compares a sample of Taglit-birthright israel participants with a comparison group of those who applied for the trip but did not go. The current findings are in line with the results of the 2009 findings, but extend them in several important ways.

Among the highlights of the current findings:

  • Participants were 51 percent more likely than non-participants to be married to someone Jewish.
  • Participants were 46 percent more likely to feel “very much” connected to Israel and 28 percent more likely to explain with confidence Israel/Middle East issues.
  • Participants were 28 percent more likely to place high importance on marrying someone Jewish and 35 percent more likely to place high importance on raising Jewish children than non-participants.
  • Among participants who married a person who was not born Jewish, the likelihood of their spouse converting to Judaism was four times higher than the spouses of non-participants.

Professor Leonard Saxe, one of the lead investigators, noted that “the impact of Taglit over time is stunning and suggests a new narrative for the evolution of the American Jewish community.”

“Since day one of this project, we have invested a great deal in the educational quality of the 10-day trip. While our numbers have grown beyond a quarter of a million alumni, our focus has always been on having a qualitative impact on the future of the Jewish community,” said Taglit-birthright israel CEO Gidi Mark. “The research reinforces the fact that not only have we been successful, but that Taglit-birthright israel has become the bridge between Israel and the next generation of the worldwide Jewish community.”

“This study in some ways says as much about those who didn’t join the trips as about those who did,” said birthright israel Foundation President Robert P. Aronson. “It is clearer than ever that with greater capacity the lives of those who were turned away from the trips would have been changed.”

The current study surveyed nearly 2,000 young adults who participated in or applied for a birthright israel trip between the years 2001 and 2005.

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