The Birthright Israel Foundation has announced a $40 million gift from casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, to help fund free educational trips to Israel for young Jewish adults.
The gift, which doubles the Adelsons' past annual commitment to Birthright Israel, includes a $20 million challenge grant that will match dollar-for-dollar new and increased gifts or pledges through 2015. The Adelsons' latest gift brings their total giving in support of the program — which provides Jewish youth between the ages of 18 and 26 with an opportunity to meet young Israelis, many of whom are serving in the Israel Defense Forces, and explore their personal, religious, and political views — to $180 million.
The Birthright program is a partnership between the government of Israel, private philanthropists, and Jewish communities around the world, including the Jewish Federations of North America, the Jewish Agency for Israel, and Keren Hayesod.
"With this new gift, we plan to send in excess of forty thousand participants on trips in 2013," said Taglit-Birthright Israel CEO Gidi Mark. "Our program connects young adult Jews with Israel as their birthright. Our vision — and it is shared by the Adelsons — is for Birthright Israel to become a permanent milestone in becoming a Jewish adult."