Source: PresenTense Magazine, Issue 5 April 2008 , pages 39 - 41
In a recent survey of North American Taglit - Birthright Israel participants, Dr. Leonard Saxe of Brandeis University found that Taglit participants demonstrated much more positive attitudes towards Israel and Jewish identity than non-participants. However, even Dr. Saxe conceded that the effects of Birthright on the alumni three years after the program appear to taper off.
Personnel of Israel programs of longer duration and more comprehensive study, question the lasting value of the Birthright experience compared with that of the longer programs. Yet, such programs have been facing a drop-off in applications recently, perhaps because of parents' preference for the free Birthright trip.
The article goes on to concede that the Birthright program may not imbue its participants with the same level of content and educational experience as the longer Israel programs, yet it does play an invaluable role as a “booster kit” for Jewish young adults. It serves as a bridge program that initiates a framework for connection to Judaism.
The article calls for Birthright to offer comprehensive alumni programming to its participants including return trips to Israel with a more in-depth encounter. In fact, Birthright Israel is now revamping its post-programming efforts under the name – Birthright Next. Hopefully these efforts will eventually help link the Birthright alumni communities with the broader Jewish community as well as with non-Birthright participants. These steps may help Birthright realize its goal of becoming a sustainable influence on the American Jewish connection to Israel, and prevent many young Jews from slipping into assimilation.
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