Gidi Mark, CEO of Taglit-Birthright Israel, says the children of Israelis who moved to North America need special attention so that they can embrace Israel as their future.
“I care more about the children,” he tells Israel National News during an interview at the IAC National Summit in Florida. “We are dealing with the children of Jews that apparently their forefathers and mothers left Israel 2,000 years ago and we think that we need to take care of the children of people who left 20 or 30 years ago. And we need to embrace them and to bring them over to attach them to Jewish identity, to the State of Israel, to Israelis, and to see Israel as their future, either living there or frequently visiting.”
Mark explains that today children of Israelis in America need Birthright more than ever, even more than “regular Jews who get some Jewish education now and then.”
At the IAC conference, “We see an awakening in the sense of a Jewish community which is very important because people need to relate. This gives them some kind of relevancy.”
Birthright sees its mission as bringing tens of thousands of children of Israelis to Israel “to connect them.”
“Amazingly when they meet with the soldiers that join the groups while in Israel, they are touched more than the others because they see the similarities," he says. "That’s why the percentage of children of Israelis [from North America] who join the IDF is much higher than the percentage of others.”
Mark laments the fact that Birthright has struggled to be able to bring groups of young Jews to Israel during the pandemic.
“This is a Zionist education system. It should be open all the time. You cannot disconnect Zionism from Zion. You cannot disconnect Jews from the State of the Jews," he says. "We need to bring them over because we see the deficit already happening on campuses here in the United States where he have a deficit of about 150,000 Jewish young adults who have not come to Israel since the start of the pandemic, and we see the results here. We need to have them to confront the anti-Israel [attitudes] that prevail today on campuses.”