BRANDEIS UNIVERSITY RELEASES RESEARCH ON IMPACT OF 10-DAY EDUCATIONAL TRIP TO ISRAEL
Long-term study on Birthright Israel alumni shows reversal of troubling trends: program strengthens connection with Israel and the Jewish people
New York, NY – October 26, 2009 – The Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University released Generation Birthright Israel today, a research study attesting to the profound and long-term impact on alumni of the Taglit-Birthright Israel experience. The study, which focuses on the early rounds of the 10-year-old project, documents participants’ strengthened connection to Israel, their greater sense of belonging to the Jewish people, and their increased interest in building Jewish families.
Since its launch in 2000, the Birthright Israel organization has provided free educational trips to Israel to 220,000 Jewish young adults ages 18 to 26 from around the world. This first ever long-term study of the program shows that it is achieving its original objectives of closing the gap between Jewish young adults in the Diaspora and Israel, and strengthening participants’ sense of Jewish identity.
“In ten short years, Taglit-Birthright Israel has inspired a generation of young Jews to reconnect with Israel and the Jewish community,” said Gidi Mark, CEO of Taglit-Birthright Israel. “With tens of thousands on our waiting list, we are well on our way to establishing an educational trip to Israel as a rite of passage in the Jewish life cycle. That’s going to be the story of our second decade.”
The Brandeis study examined five aspects of participants’ Jewish identities and behaviors, including their relationship to Israel, sense of Jewish identity and people hood, communal involvement, religious observance, and family life. The following are key findings:
- Seventy-three percent of participants felt the trip was “very much” (45 percent) or ”somewhat” (28 percent) a life-changing experience.
- Participants were 23 percent more likely than non-participants to report feeling “very much” connected to Israel.
- Participants were 24 percent more likely than non-participants to “strongly agree” with the statement, “I have a strong sense of connection to the Jewish people.”
- Married non-Orthodox participants were 57 percent more likely to be married to a Jew than non-Orthodox non-participants.
- Participants were 30 percent more likely than non-participants to view raising Jewish children as “very important.”
“Of all the information generated by the research, that which struck me as most important was the data dealing with comparisons of marriage and family choices — the crux of Jewish continuity,” said Birthright Israel Co-founding Chairman Michael H. Steinhardt. “The breath-taking impact of a ten-day Birthright Israel trip on the Jewish lives of its alumni is almost beyond explanation.”
“For those of us who had what seemed to be an impossible dream—that of initiating a 10-day educational trip to Israel that could really make a difference — these findings prove that this is exactly what has come to pass,” said Co-founding Chairman Charles Bronfman.
About Taglit-Birthright Israel
Taglit-Birthright Israel provides the gift of first time, peer group, educational trips to Israel for Jewish young adults ages 18 to 26. Birthright Israel’s founders created this program to send young Jewish adults from all over the world to Israel as a gift intended to diminish the growing division between Israel and Jewish communities around the world, to strengthen the sense of solidarity among world Jewry, and to enhance participants’ personal Jewish identity and connection to the Jewish people. Visit www.birthrightisrael.com for more information.