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IDF Soldiers Help Birthright Bring Jews to Israel

IDF soldiers – 40,000 of them – have taken part in Birthright tours that have brought 250,000 Jews to Israel, some of whom now are in the IDF.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 5/17/2010, 10:20 PM

Flash 90

Approximately 40,000 IDF soldiers have taken part in 10 years of Birthright tours that have brought 250,000 Jews to Israel. About 17,000 Birthright-Taglit alumni are living in Israel, many of them soldiers like those who helped them, during their first trip to the Jewish state.

Birthright celebrated its 10th anniversary last week with three days of special events in a year in which 31,000 young Jews from nearly 50 countries are expected to set foot on the Land of Israel for the first time in their lives. Registration for this summer is far above that of the same period last year.

Army soldiers accompany the Birthright participants and help them feel at home during their trips, which include visits to popular sites in Israel as well as meeting with business, political and community leaders.

Despite the success of Birthright, “Most young Jews have still not visited, and this is a problem we are striving to correct,” according to Gidi Mark, CEO of Taglit-Birthright Israel. “We set a goal for ourselves that within the next 7-10 years, half of Jewish youth living in the Diaspora will visit Israel through our program.”

The 10th anniversary events featured a special trip through 18 Israeli cities and popular sites, from Kiryat Shmona near the northern border to Sderot in the northern Negev.