Source: ejewish Philanthropy
In response to a recent Jerusalem Post article, Rabbi Daniel Brenner, Executive Director of Birthright Israel NEXT, describes the efforts being made by his organization to involve Taglit-Birthright graduates in Jewish communal life. The programming covers four main areas: Shabbat hospitality, Hebrew language learning, deepening the Israel connection and encouraging community involvement.
Over the past year, 12,200 of the 19,000 Birthright 2009 cohort participated in North American Shabbat hospitality activities organized by Birthright volunteers. 93% of the NEXT Shabbat meals involved some or all of the core ritual elements of Shabbat. By the end of 2010, volunteers from this group of 19,000 trip participants will have hosted over 30,000 young adults for a NEXT Shabbat event.
In addition to the Shabbat program, Birthright Israel NEXT runs ulpanim for young adults in ten North American cities, works with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through local consulates in select cities to deepen ties to Israel, and has involved thousands of post-college young Jewish adults by partnering with local Jewish and Israel-focused organizations (they linked up with thirty-two such organizations in the last year). It is through these four areas (and through many partners) that they are on track to involve 100,000 young Jewish adults in their programming in 2010.
Those young adults who go on Taglit-Birthright Israel trips and then get involved in Birthright Israel NEXT or with campus-based partners are actually doubling and in many cases quadrupling the overall philanthropic investment in the trip. In Birthright NEXT programs, young Jewish women and men come off of their Israel trips with a spark of energy that causes them to reach out to their friends (most of whom have not gone to Israel) and involve them in Jewish life. As a result they are transforming their social circles and injecting Jewish content and Jewish experiences in ways that they never did before.