US/World News

Birthright expands eligibility for free trips to Israel

( The Taglit-Birthright Israel program has expanded eligibility for its free 10-day trips to Israel for Jewish young adults ages 18-26. In a change first reported by, teenagers who went on an educational trip to Israel during high school can now go on Birthright after previously being ineligible. Birthright’s eligibility guidelines previously allowed people to participate if they had previously traveled to Israel with family or on other personal business, but not if they had been to Israel after the age of 12 with a touring group, educational program or organized residential program. While those who have taken educational trips to Israel after turning 18 are still not eligible for Birthright, youths who took such trips before 18 can now go on Birthright from ages 18-26.

The change in guidelines, approved Jan. 22 by Birthright’s steering committee, goes into effect Feb. 19 for enrollment in Birthright’s summer 2014 trips.

In addition, Israeli Minister of Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett, chairman of the Taglit-Birthright Israel steering committee, announced that the committee would seek funding for greater participation of French Jews in Birthright. The committee authorized Birthright directors to find the necessary funding for this measure, both internally and from sources in France’s Jewish community. Bennett said French Jews “face complex challenges. We must act to strengthen their Jewish identity and their connection to Israel and to the Jewish people through Taglit,” he said.

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