With Birthright Israel application season just around the corner, Jewish young adults may be considering whether the free trip to Israel is right for them this summer. If you’re between the ages of 18 or 23, secular or religious, Birthright can be a great opportunity to make friends, travel the world and learn more about Jewish heritage. While the many steps of registration and application can be daunting, here are some questions to keep in mind during the process.
1. When do applications open?
By periodically checking the Birthright Israel website and marking important dates in your calendar, you can avoid missing deadlines and decide on the particulars of your trip with ample time. Registration for the summer season opens Jan. 30, but those who sign up for priority status have earlier access to registration, which is on Jan. 29 at 10 a.m. EST.
2. Who will I travel with?
This question covers both your travel companion and your trip provider. Whether you’re bringing your sibling, friend or significant other, sharing birthright with someone you know can ease the challenge of meeting strangers and bring you two closer together. In addition, selecting a trip organizer can affect the type of experience you have in Israel. Someone looking for an artistic and cultural lens on their trip would not want to choose the same provider as an adventurous outdoorsman. Similarly, some trips are run through Jewish organizations while others are run through tourism companies, which will shape your journey through the country.
3. Where will I start my trip?
Birthright trips to Israel fly out of a range of cities, including New York City, Los Angeles and even Miami. Picking the location can determine the demographic that you travel with, and it offers an excuse to tour your departure city a few days prior to or after Birthright.
4. What are the eligibility requirements?
As will be verified in the telephone interview portion of registration, applicants must have at least one Jewish birth parent that identifies as Jewish or be considered as a recognized Jewish denomination. Eligible individuals must also not practice another religion. This information is valuable in securing a spot on your intended trip.
5. Why should I go on Birthright?
Birthright is a free opportunity to explore a different culture and learn more about yourself with other Jewish peers. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance that allows you to step out of your comfort zone, try new things and meet people. Viewing the country’s most beautiful and meaningful locations and traditions, as well as making memories with friends, new and old, can transform the way you see your heritage and identity forever.
Birthright can open your mind to new ideas, opportunities and cultures. If you have the opportunity to travel to Israel for free, you shouldn’t pass it up.