THE Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA) sent Australian participants on a Taglit-Birthright Israel trip for the first time since 2020, with 56 participants and four staff members embarking on the 10-day trip in July.
Run in partnership with AUJS, the Jewish Educational Journey included touring Tzfat, Tel Aviv, the Kotel and Yad Vashem, climbing Masada, kayaking in the Jordan River, visiting the Beersheba Anzac Memorial Centre, a cruise on the Kineret, and a Bedouin experience.
ZFA president Jeremy Leibler said, “The Taglit-Birthright Israel trip is a life-changing program, and the proof is in the responses from our participants, all of whom have returned with a much deeper connection to Israel and an eagerness to engage with the Jewish community in a more meaningful way.”
Every trip includes flights, accommodation, two meals per day, admissions, transportation, tours, and is made possible thanks to the support of the State of Israel, worldwide Jewish communities and individual donors, and the ZFA’s main supporters the Gandel Foundation and the Alter Family Foundation.
Taglit-Birthright director in Australia Sebastian Inwentarz said, “Throughout the trip, each participant becomes the captain of their own Jewish journey, and we motivate the group as a whole to engage with Jewish concepts, values and rituals, as well as associations with the Australian Jewish communities and with Israel.”
About 20 participants had their bar/bat mitzvahs during the group’s visit to Jerusalem, and with almost a third of participants never having experienced Shabbat before, spending Shabbat together was a highlight of the program.
One component of the trip is the encounter (“mifgash”) between overseas participants and young Israelis who join each group.
Madrichah Haydee Katz said, “One of the best parts of the trip was being accompanied by Israelis who joined the group halfway through. Having their presence allowed the participants to connect even more to Israel and the culture.
“[We] got a first-hand insight into what it is like to live as an Israeli, creating life-long friendships and memories throughout the trip. The final few days of the trip were filled with minimal sleep but electric energy. Participants got to sleep in Bedouin tents, climb Mount Masada at sunrise, and swim in the Dead Sea. The final night and day included time in Tel Aviv, and participants enjoyed spending free time roaming the streets, and having our final meal in the old city of Jaffa altogether.”
The next trip, in partnership with UIA, WIZO and ARZA, will take place in January 2023. To register: int.birthrightisrael.com