'You Have to Fight the Battle for Israel in the Fight for Truth'
"You have to fight the battle for Israel in the fight for truth," Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told participants at a Taglit-Birthright Israel Mega Event on Tuesday.
The event took place in the presence of founding donors Michael Steinhardt and Lynn Schusterman, Taglit-Birthright Israel CEO Gidi Mark, Knesset Members, dozens of donors, friends from the Jewish Communities around the world and thousands of Taglit-Birthright Israel participants from the United States, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay and Israel.
"15 years ago when the founders of Tagit-Birthright Israel came to me with the idea is to bring young Jews from around the world for 10 days to Israel, I thought these people were crazy, mushugana, loco,” said Netanyahu.
“And then I thought, this country was founded by dreamers, great dreamers, and I said to myself, if you're crazy, I'm crazy to, and we are going to do it,” he added.
“Taglit-Birthright Israel promises the future of the Israeli State and the Jewish Nation. When you go back to your countries, I want you to keep close to your heart everything you see here, but also share it with your friends, families, with your communities and with college friends because you have to fight the battle for Israel in the fight for truth, and I am counting on you to do it,” said the Prime Minister.
"My message to you is short, this is your country, come back again and again, welcome home,” he stated.
Taglit-Birthright Israel CEO Gidi Mark said during the event, "We are proud of the success of Taglit-Birthright Israel which hitherto has touched the lives of over 350 thousand young Jews from around the world and have achieved our vision of building a bridge between Israel and the Jewish communities abroad.
“Through this unique 10-day experience, young adults connect to their Jewish identity and discover Israel in the most direct way possible,” he added. “The strength of Taglit-Birthright Israel and its impact is a credit to the State of Israel and we are committed today, more than ever to continue our efforts."
Over 350,000 young adults have come to Israel through Taglit over the past several years. The program aims to connect young Jews to the state of Israel and their Jewish identity through a free ten-day tour of the country.
Studies conducted at Brandeis University, located outside of Boston, have shown the lasting effect the program has on participants in terms of strengthening their Jewish identity, their connection to Israel, and their ability to promote the country.
Last month, the program brought a record-breaking 1,600 participants to Israel in one day.
Participants came to visit Israel from the U.S., Australia, Argentina, Canada, Germany and Russia.
The new record for Taglit came at the end of a year (2013) in which 19,200 Jews made aliyah (emigrated to Israel), marking a 7% increase from 2012.