For more information contact:
Tzivia Levin Kalmes, Development Director, 502-238-2715

Young Jewish adults between the ages of 18 and 26 who desire to visit Israel for the first time will have the opportunity to register for a free 10-day trip there through Taglit-Birthright Israel.

The nonprofit organization, responsible for sending more than 350,000 young Jewish adults to Israel to learn about their heritage, will open its winter 2013-14 trip registration on Tuesday, September 10, at 10:00 a.m., EST.  To register, visit www.BirthrightIsrael.com.

In its 14th year, Taglit-Birthright Israel has become a “rite of passage” for Jewish adults between the ages of 18 to 26. The trip aims to strengthen each participant’s Jewish identity; build an understanding, friendship, and lasting bond with the land and people of Israel; and reinforce the solidarity of the Jewish people worldwide.

“Israel is a country steeped in rich history and culture,” said Gidi Mark, CEO of Taglit-Birthright Israel.  “Birthright participants get to experience firsthand everything the country has to offer, from interacting with young Israelis, to staying with Bedouins in the desert, to floating in the Dead Sea, and sampling the delicious cuisine.  Participating in Birthright means getting the chance to see the place where our ancestors came from and strengthening the connection to our heritage. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime that should not be missed.”

Taglit-Birthright Israel has sent more than 350,000 young Jewish adults to Israel from more than 62 countries and from all 50 U.S. states, including students from nearly 1,000 North American college campuses.  Attendees are immersed in an active educational experience that includes visits to Jewish historical sites, history museums, Holocaust remembrance sites, the Western Wall, arts and culture programs as well as touring, hiking, discussions, social events, camel and jeep rides in the desert, and more.  The trip focuses on three main areas: the narratives of the Jewish people, contemporary Israel, and the formative values of Judaism.

Birthright also offers niche trips for specific groups,  including trips for First Responders, bicyclists, photographers, people of Russian ancestry, and LGBTQ, to name a few.  There are also special needs trips for the hearing impaired, people with disabilities confined to wheelchairs, people with Asperger’s, and those with IBD-Crohn’s, among others.

Matthew Putterman, 24, went on a Birthright trip in 2010. He grew up in a neighborhood without a lot of Jewish families and joined a non-Jewish fraternity in college. While on the trip, Putterman was introduced to the Gift of Life organ donor program. Spurred partly by his own sister’s diagnosis of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, he eventually made his own bone marrow donation to a man suffering from blood cancer.

“The sense of global Jewish community developed during Birthright definitely helped to substantiate my initial feelings of wanting to help if at all possible,” he said.

Shira Kaiserman, 28, also participated in Birthright in 2010.  It was a visit to Mount Herzl, where a guide told the story of Hannah Senesh, an Israeli national who was caught and killed by the Nazis after parachuting into Europe to help rescue refugees, that opened her eyes.

“As a woman, you don’t really hear about a lot of modern-day Jewish women who made such a strong contribution to the Jewish people,” she said. She was so affected by her experiences on Birthright that she left a career in advertising to work for a Jewish non-profit organization.

Taglit-Birthright Israel is a partnership between the Government of Israel, private philanthropists, and Jewish communities around the world, including the Jewish Federations of North America, the Jewish Agency for Israel, and Keren Hayesod. For additional information on registration for winter 2013-14 trips, please call the Taglit-Birthright Israel Hotline at 1-888-994-7723.


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