Once again Shaul Kelner, in an otherwise thought-provoking article on Birthright Israel (“So Near, So Far,” May 14, Israel Now section), unduly focuses on what he describes as the “hookup scene” of Birthright. If one is to read this article, and the previous Jewish Week article reviewing his book, “Tours That Bind,” one might be prone to think that the primary purpose of Birthright is to work on “Jewish continuity” during the trip itself in a very practical manner.
I have been privileged to be involved with Birthright groups as an Israeli educational tour guide, and program designer since the program’s inception over a decade ago. I can categorically state that, contrary to Kelner’s implications, Birthright is not a Woodstock revival-type tour for hedonists.
Birthright Israel is one of the most significant Jewish educational experiences, and our community needs to do whatever it can to keep this program running. We need to pull an entire generation back from the abyss of assimilation and apathy, and carry on reconnecting them to their religion, people and land.