NEW YORK, N.Y. — Philanthropists Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson announced an additional $5 million gift to the Birthright Israel Foundation for 2011, raising their total contribution to $10 million for this year. In all, the Adelson Family Foundation has contributed over $100 million to Birthright Israel since 2007.
In light of this announcement, Taglit-Birthright Israel is now sending letters to 2,000 North American young adults who had applied for a trip this winter but were waitlisted, informing them that they will now be able to go on the free, 10-day educational trip in the coming months thanks to the new funding. Nearly 22,500 North Americans had registered for Taglit-Birthright Israel trips this winter and over 10,000 young adults had been waitlisted.
As a result of the Adelson’s gift, global participation in winter trips will reach 17,000 from 32 countries.
“We couldn’t bear seeing thousands and thousands of young adults who wanted to visit Israel not able to go,” Miriam Adelson said. “Greater participation means we can change the lives of more young adults.”
“My parents always wanted to go to Israel but never made it,” Sheldon Adelson added. “I made a promise that I would do everything I could to help any young person who wanted to visit Israel through the Birthright Israel program be able to do so.”
“This is a direct, tangible contribution to the Jewish people,” said International CEO of Taglit-Birthright Israel, Gidi Mark. “This year alone, the Adelsons will enable a total of 4,000 young adults to visit Israel. These are 4,000 lives changed. These are 4,000 people who almost certainly will identify more closely as Jews and with Israel.”
The Adelson challenge will help promote Birthright Israel’s goal of increasing participant numbers – to reach 51,000 participants annually by 2013. In January, the Government of Israel announced it would contribute $100 million in funding over the next three years to achieve the 51,000 goal, contingent on funds raised in North America and worldwide.