Israeli Prime Minister Bejamin Netantayahu has announced a three-year, $100 million government funding package for Taglit-Birthright Israel, an Israeli charity that provides free, ten-day educational trips to Israel for young Jewish adults from around the world.
Israeli government funding for the program will grow annually, starting at $26 million in 2011, increasing to $34 million in 2012, and reaching $40 million in 2013. In light of the government's announcement, philanthropic supporters of Birthright Israel, including the Birthright Israel Foundation, have pledged to help the program reach its financial targets.
In 2010, Taglit-Birthright Israel provided trips for 30,000 participants, while another 30,000 were placed on a waiting list due to funding shortages. By expanding its funding capacity, the program aims to increase the number of annual participants to 51,000 by 2013. Since its inception in 2000, Birthright Israel has provided trips for more than 250,000 young adults from 53 countries.
"Increasing the budget is a historic decision — to bring the majority of young Jewish people to Israel and enable every young Jewish person that wants to come here to be able to do so," said Netanyahu. "I am proud that I was the first Israeli prime minister who supported the Birthright Israel project. This bold idea is a great success. Today it is the way tens of thousands of young Jews from around the world strengthen their connection to Judaism and Israel."