Birthright israel is receiving high marks for its success in bringing thousands of Jewish young adults to Israel on free 10-day trips. But is it receiving sufficient funding?
It seems that one of birthright’s three primary partners, the United Jewish Communities, is having fund-raising problems that could have an adverse effect on the 2-year-old program, sources tell The Jewish Week.
UJC, which represents 189 Jewish federations in North America, has told birthright officials that some federations are saying they are having trouble raising the money they committed to the project.
Birthright is designed to bring thousands of 18- to 26-year-olds to Israel who have never been there on an organized, peer group educational trip.
Under the terms of the birthright agreement, a group of philanthropists, the State of Israel and Jewish communities worldwide were to split the cost of the enterprise, estimated at about $210 million. The UJC committed to making increasingly larger payments over five years until it paid its share of more than $50 million.
But with federations focusing on emergency campaigns for Israel and their own local needs during a difficult economic climate, sources say that while enthusiasm for birthright remains strong, the dollars do not.
UJC officials are expected to meet with federations during the coming weeks to learn how much the anticipated shortfall might be.
The federations have raised more than $200 million for an Israel Emergency Fund. The fund is designed to help Israelis, who are facing economic, safety and emotional crises due to 20 months of Palestinian violence. There has been some suggestion that some of that money be used for birthright since youth missions to Israel help the Israeli economy and boost the spirits of Israelis.
Others are suggesting birthright scale back its goals, given that fewer students are willing to travel to Israel for the first time during this period of violence.