Naomi Schaefer Riley: Young, Jewish and Going to Israel

Established by Jewish philanthropists Charles Bronfman and Michael Steinhardt, among others, in collaboration with the Israeli government and various Jewish communal organizations, Birthright’s goal is “to strengthen Jewish identity, Jewish communities and solidarity with Israel.” As the generation that experienced the Holocaust and the creation of Israel grew older and died, younger Jews began to view the issue of a Jewish state with less and less urgency.

Birthright’s founders wanted to counter the waning interest in Judaism among the young. So far, the organization has sent more than 300,000 Jews from 59 countries to Israel””mostly from the U.S. and Canada.

Mark Shapiro, a former consultant for McKinsey & Co. who worked on the original plans for Birthright, says that some of the impetus for the project came from the 1990 Jewish Population Survey that showed an intermarriage rate for American Jews of greater than 50%….

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