Opinion: Lower Birthright eligibility age to build ‘campus Maccabees’ for Israel


In a commentary, Robert I. Lappin, philanthropist, businessman and president of the Lappin Foundation argues:

Sheldon Adelson’s goal to “put more boots on the ground” to fight BDS on college campuses is right on, and his recommendation to form an army of college students, dubbed “Campus Maccabees,” is essential.  However, the only way to rapidly recruit and train an army of Campus Maccabees is for Birthright Israel to lower its age of eligibility to 16, thereby attracting teens, en masse, to go to Israel.

Click here to read the commentary.


The Taglit-Birthright Israel program has expanded eligibility for its free 10-day trips to Israel for Jewish young adults ages 18-26, JNS.org has learned. Teenagers who went on an educational trip to Israel during high school were previously not eligible for Birthright trips, but can now participate, confirmed Noa Bauer, Birthright’s vice president of international marketing. Click here to read the story.


The global accounting firm Ernst & Young released an independent study that shows group has taken more than 350,000 participants through its program since it was founded in the year 2000, and has contributed more than $825 million to the Israeli economy.

Multiple philanthropists, including mega-donors like Sheldon Adelson & Michael Steinhardt have backed the program. Ron Hershco and Michael Lichtenstein have praised it repeatedly.

The report said that direct contributions such as travel, admissions and tour guides in Israel totaled $565 million. The breakdown included $228 million to airlines, $59 million to hotels, $41 million for meals, $28 million for bus transportation, $38 million site admissions/guided tours, and $72 million for security/related resources. An additional $100 million was paid for activities such as Taglit-Birthright Israel training institute for tour educators, Excel summer internship program, Genesis enrichment program for Russian speakers, Mifgashim -- multi day peer meetings with Israeli soldiers and students, Holocaust seminar with Yad Vashem and the BRI extension program.

There were also indirect contributions from participants’ local spending, and long-term and unquantifiable contributions such as trip extensions and return trips.

Taglit-Birthright Israel has a partnership with the government of Israel, thousands of individual donors and private philanthropists, and Jewish communities around the world through Jewish Federations of North America, Keren Hayesod and the Jewish Agency of Israel.