Taglit-Birthright participants (file)
Taglit-Birthright participants (file) Flash90

Birthright Israel, the largest educational tourism organization in the world, and Onward Israel, the leading provider of mid-length immersive experiences for young adults in Israel, have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to explore a merger.

The combination is expected to strengthen Israel-Diaspora ties by providing expanded opportunities for more Jewish young adults to participate in travel, study, and professional development experiences.

“We seek synergies to allow us to better pursue our goals of strengthening the connection between Diaspora Jews and the State of Israel,” Birthright Israel CEO Gidi Mark said. “Given our shared values, we see an opportunity to combine Birthright’s programming – including our 10-day educational tours and Birthright Excel Fellowship – with Onward Israel’s longer internships and immersive living experiences. In doing so, we’ll more effectively be able to reach young Jews around the world with a variety of engaging programmatic options.”

Ilan Wagner, Onward Israel’s CEO, stressed the great potential of creating a new, expanded continuum for young adult Jews to build strong Jewish identity and cultivate a love, appreciation, and knowledge of Israel through multiple immersive Israel experiences.

The potential merger enjoys the generous support of leading philanthropic foundations within the Jewish community.

“This MoU reflects the great success as well as the wonder that is Birthright Israel,” added Birthright Israel co-founder and visionary Charles Bronfman. “We look forward to partnering with Onward to further enhance the experience for our participants.”

“It is imperative for us to provide opportunities to Jewish young adults that will create and strengthen their bond with the State of Israel and the Jewish community. This partnership will allow us to continue to develop unique offerings that speak to this generation in multiple ways,” added Tom Stern, Chair of the Birthright Israel Foundation.

David and Cindy Shapira, Onward Israel co-founders, added, “We created Onward Israel to provide college students searching for high quality summer internships and fellowships abroad with the opportunity to live and work in Israel. We intended Onward Israel to be a follow-up to the amazing experience provided by Birthright — to deepen their Jewish identity and engagement with Israel. Now, Birthright with Onward Israel creates a new rite of passage for Jewish young people and will further strengthen the Jewish people. We couldn’t be more excited to be entering into this great partnership.”