Charles Bronfman, co-founder and principal donor of Taglit-Birthright Israel, concluded the final plenary of the JFNA GA by speaking about Jewish philanthropy and the importance of sending young Jews to Israel.
This lecture spoke to me because I just got back from Birthright in May of this year, and as he spoke about hearing that the trip changed people's lives, I could only think that this is exactly how I feel about Birthright. I became so much more involved in Hillel and Jewish life in general after returning from Birthright, and I became so much more invested in the State of Israel and maintaining its security and legitimacy, which is in line with Bronfman's statement that of the people fighting to legitimize Israel on campuses, 50% of them are Birthright alums. However, he stressed the fact that there are more people on the waiting lists for these trips than actually get to go and that more people sign up for the program than there are bar and bat mitzvahs in the U.S. every year.
Bronfman said, "Birthright represents a gift from one generation to another," in an attempt to encourage Birthright alums and other Jews in general to donate to the foundation so that more people can go, since he believes that every young Jew who wants to travel to Israel should be able to do so. During his standing ovation, I couldn't help but wonder how many people would then go and actually donate to the cause? How many people will follow up on what they just heard and were inspired to do?