Dear Friends,

As I write these lines, the Coronavirus is still a global ongoing concern.  Along with the far reaching medical and economic consequences of a global pandemic, in our world, it has brought about the unprecedented postponement of Taglit-Birthright Israel trips.  Though we are pained by the need to suspend trips during these uncertain times, we are committed to keeping Taglit-Birthright Israel strong and to bringing every participant whose trip was postponed.  It is important to remember that on our long journey, the virus is only one small part of the 42 trip seasons since we began in 2000. The importance of reaching out to every Jewish young adult and bringing them into the Jewish tent has not changed. 

2019 is an example of the far reach of Taglit-Birthright Israel.  Close to 46,000 participants from 50 countries participated in a Taglit-Birthright Israel educational trip, alongside an additional 7,800 Israeli Mifgash participants. They enjoyed our classic 10-day trips, as well as 7-day trips, niche trips focusing on various topics such as innovation, photography, hiking and spirituality, accessibility and inclusion (special needs) trips and officers’ trips.

This is an opportunity to thank our founders, supporters and partners – the Government of Israel, the Birthright Israel Foundation, communities and stakeholders around the world – as well as our Trip Organizers (TOs) and our dedicated staff who are all part of this success story, ensuring a thriving future for the Jewish people.

Our impact remains as strong as ever with the most recent long-term impact research completed this year showing that our participants are 41% more likely to have a Jewish spouse than non-participants.  Even 10-15 years after their Taglit-Birthright Israel experience, they are also more likely to participate in Jewish cultural events and celebrate Jewish holidays like Passover or Rosh Hashanah.   More than 85% of participants rate their Birthright Israel trip as “one of the best experiences of their lives” or as “a great experience.”  

The impact was most meaningful among those participants who were the least affiliated with the Jewish community, tied to their Jewish identity or connected to Israel before the trip.  After the trip, these participants reported marked increases in the importance they place on being Jewish, on Jewish values and on the importance of Israel to their lives.  

This year we started a new process in which our management, together with our partners, alumni, and other stakeholders, “reimagined” Taglit-Birthright Israel trips, as if we were just launching our first trips today. We understand that the participants of 2020 are very different from the participants of 2000, and our trips must reflect these changes. We left no aspect of the trip untouched, and we have reached some exciting conclusions which we are looking forward to share with you and pilot in 2020 and 2021. 

As the Jewish organization that enjoys the trust of Jewish young adults globally, we have a responsibility towards the young generation.  In the two decades since we began, we have brought hundreds of thousands back into the Jewish tent, and the current crisis does not change that. 

We are looking past the current uncertainties with optimism, knowing that we have a firm foundation and that we are preparing for the future in the best possible way. We are confident in the primacy of our mission to connect young Jewish adults to their Jewish identity, community and to the State of Israel and we will work tirelessly to bring as many of them as possible on a Taglit-Birthright Israel trip.  

Wishing you a successful year,

Gidi Mark

International CEO Taglit-Birthright Israel