Israel Brief May 23, 2013: Sheldon Adelson & wife Miriam donate another $40 million to Birthright Israel Foundation



Adelsons donate another $40 million to Birthright

Source: JTA, 5-23-13

Casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, donated another $40 million to the Birthright Israel Foundation….READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief January 7, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech at the Taglit-Birthright Israel Bar-Mitzvah ‘Mega Event’



PM Netanyahu’s Remarks to the Taglit-Birthright Israel ‘Mega Event’

Source: PMO, 1-7-13

יום שני כ”ה טבת תשע”ג

Photo by GPO

“Toda Raba, thank you all, welcome to Jerusalem.


You come from many, many countries [inaudible]

Anyone from Canada? Germany? Uruguay? Argentina? How about Russia? No Russia? How about the United States?

You know there’s only one way to resolve this. It’s a soccer match for everyone except the United States, that’s a football match.

You come from different countries; you speak different languages; you have different cultures. But you all have one thing in common: Israel is your birthright; Israel is your common homeland.

Now today, Birthright is celebrating its Bar-Mitzvah, its 13th year. I remember a few years ago, 13 years ago, when a few visionaries came to see me in my first term as Prime Minister. And they had a wild idea. Two of them are here, Michael and Judy Steinhardt. Very good to see you both.

Now they had a wild idea, actually two wild ideas. The wanted to bring, they said, hundreds of thousands of young Jews to Israel. That’s one pretty crazy idea, but you want to hear what really was meshigene? They wanted the Israeli government to help pay for it. Now we all heard about the Jewish community around the world investing in Israel. We never heard about Israel investing in the Jewish communities around the world. And in fact, I figured, they may be crazy, but if they’re crazy, I’m crazy too. And we began that partnership. That’s how it began.

And I believe that Birthright has indeed changed the Jewish future. We’ve had, I believe, 330,000 young Jews from around the world come to Israel since then, and we’re getting another 44,000 this year, with you represented.

But my goal is even more ambitious, my goal and I know Michael it’s your goal, and it’s also the goal of Minister Yuli Edelstein, in our government who deals with the Diaspora. Our goal is that any young Jewish man or woman who wants to come to Israel will be able to come to Israel. We’ll make that possible, and I know many thousands will come.
I believe it’s important not only for us, but it’s also important for presenting our case to the world. Because anybody who comes here sees the true Israel. Israel is the place where Jewish history comes alive. Here you tread in the footsteps of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and Sarah, Rebecca and Rachel and Leah. You stand exactly where King David stood. Not very far from here. And you also can see how we turned the hopes and dreams of thousands of years into a reality. You see this marvelous hi-tech city of Tel Aviv; you see this flowering city of Jerusalem. You have come home. And I want you to tell the world about what you see here.

Because Israel is not merely about the Jewish past, it’s about the Jewish future. You know when the State began a little over 60 years ago, you know what percentage of world Jewry lived in Israel? Anybody want to guess? Here’s the answer: 5%. Very soon it’s going to be over 50%. This is what we haven’t seen here for thousands of years. The majority of the Jewish people living in the Jewish State, and I hope many of you will come and join us, permanently.

Now there are many changes that we’re bringing about in technology, in culture. Have you ever seen so many cell phones used by so many people? This is the most advanced society on earth in many ways. But it’s also one that is changing the fate of the Jewish people, because for 2,000 years we were absolutely powerless to defend ourselves. And the greatest change, the greatest transformation that took place in the life of the Jewish people with the establishment of the Jewish state, was in restoring the capacity of Jews to defend themselves. This is a tremendous change. And mind you, that’s been possible because of Jewish unity, because when we stand united, we can deal with anything, with any challenge. And I see this meeting as an expression of Jewish unity and solidarity in the face of great challenges. And make no mistake about it. There are great challenges before us. There are challenges that we’re focused on, absolutely focused on. But I also say that it’s our job to wake up the world. It’s time for many who don’t see these dangers to wake up to this.

Now, we’ve dealt with some of them recently, in the Pillar of Fire Operation in which we dealt with rockets from Hamas. We very much appreciate the help of the United States of America – the Iron Dome help, the political help against the one sided move of the Palestinians in the United Nations.

But I believe that it’s time for the rest of the world to wake up. The great challenges that we face, the great danger to the world is not from Jews building in our ancestral capital in Jerusalem. It’s from nuclear weapons in Iran, those weapons that are built in Iran. It’s chemical weapons in Syria falling into the wrong hands. That’s the danger we have to focus on.

Israel understands these dangers. Israel is focused on dealing with them. We will deal with them. But we call on responsible leaders of the international community to come join us and address the real challenges to all of mankind.

We’ve always had the ability to send a message from this city to change the lives of so many people. This has been true throughout history. We’re changing the world today.

You know that Israeli technology is powering the world’s computers, feeding the world’s poor. Israeli medicine is prolonging life and helping cure disease. Israeli science is pushing the boundaries of knowledge. This is the real Israel.

The real Israel is a very different place from the Israel you see on television, or read about in the newspaper. The real Israel is a country that yearns for peace, works for peace, and is prepared to make compromises for peace. But we want a real peace. We want a peace where the Jewish state is recognized and secure for all time.

The real Israel is a place where people are free to speak their minds, and boy do they speak their minds in this country. The real Israel is a place where men and women and minorities are free to pursue any dream they have.

I was just in the Air Force’s cadets’ closing ceremony. We have new pilots in the Israeli Air Force. Five women pilots! That’s the real Israel.

So when you go out and people tell you things about Israel, tell them about what you saw. Make sure when you go back home tell them about the real Israel. Tell them the truth about this remarkable and dynamic country. And now go enjoy what is your birthright.

Enjoy Israel. Enjoy your past; enjoy you future in the one and only Jewish homeland.

Thank you very much.”


Israel Brief July 17, 2012: Adelsons Infuse Cash Into Birthright Israel Program



Adelsons Infuse Cash Into Birthright Program

Source: Israel National News, 7-17-12

The Birthright-Taglit program are to receive a much-needed infusion of cash from top philanthropists Sheldon and Dr. Miriam Adelson.
Dr. Miriam and Sheldon Adelson at a Birthright Israel Foundation event

Dr. Miriam and Sheldon Adelson at a Birthright Israel Foundation event
Billie Weiss/Birthright Israel Foundation

The Birthright-Taglit program are to receive a much-needed infusion of cash from top philanthropists Sheldon and Dr. Miriam Adelson.

The Jewish-American couple has donated $13 million to the program’s coffers, it was announced, adding to the $20 million they gave earlier this year….READ MORE

Israel Brief November 30, 2011: Adelsons give Birthright Israel another $5 million donation



Adelsons give Birthright another $5 million

Source: JTA, 11-30-11

Sheldon and Miriam Adelson are contributing an additional $5 million to Birthright Israel, which the organization says will move 2,000 applicants from waitlisted to traveling this winter.

The contribution announced Wednesday, a day after the Adelsons were honored in Washington by the group, doubles their contribution for this year to $10 million.

“In light of this announcement, Taglit-Birthright Israel is now sending letters to 2,000 North American young adults who had applied for a trip this winter but were waitlisted, informing them that they will now be able to go on the free, 10-day educational trip in the coming months thanks to the new funding,” the group said. “Nearly 22,500 North Americans had registered for Taglit-Birthright Israel trips this winter and over 10,000 young adults had been waitlisted.”

The Adelsons’ foundation has given Birthright more than $100 million since 2007.

Adelson, a casino magnate, is a major giver to Jewish and conservative causes.

Arie Hasit: Keeping the Jewish flame alive, even from afar


Arie Hasit: Keeping the Jewish flame alive, even from afar

Students who participate in programs in Israel return home impassioned and engaged; the challenge is for Jewish communities abroad to reach these excited, newly captivated students to maintain their level of interest in their Jewish roots and Israel.

Source: Haaretz, 10-27-11

Like most Israelis, I spent Tuesday, October 18 glued to the television. I listened to the radio incessantly and checked my phone for news updates every few minutes. I wanted to keep as up to date about Gilad Shalit’s return to Israel as possible, and I wanted to share it with as many people as I could.

But more than anything, I wanted to share my excitement about the news with my friends and loved ones abroad.

Of course, I was not the only one excited about this historical event – my Facebook newsfeed was loaded with status updates and shared articles on the prisoner exchange. However, I was particularly pleased to see how many of my former students and campers from Jewish programs that I have worked with over the years were eager to share the news as well.

Over the last number of years, I have been involved with different programs that give Jewish high school students the opportunity to come to Israel from anywhere from six weeks to four months. Once in Israel, these students undergo a transformative experience.

As Jewish educators in Israel we have unique opportunities that our North American counterparts lack. For many participants, being abroad without parental supervision is an adventure, and a new culture and language give the experience added appeal. More importantly, we have students excited to be in Israel not for the beach, but to become more intimately acquainted with their Jewish roots….

I am proud of my students who have made aliyah, as well as those who volunteer in underprivileged communities and even become educators themselves. These individuals have been inspired by their time in Israel and wish to impart their values on another generation.

Although knowing that I, along with other educators in Israel, have had a role in these achievements, it is up to the Jewish community in North America to give these teenagers and others like them the opportunity to stay involved with Israel even after their return home.

birthright - Erez Ozir - February 11 2011 Birthright participants at the organization’s ‘Mega Event’ in Jerusalem, February 2011.
Photo by: Erez Ozir

It is inspirational events like the return of Shalit that remind us of the lasting impression that positive experiences in Israel can have on Diaspora youth, and maintaining their impassioned relationship with Judaism and Israel for years to come.

Arie Hasit is an educator at Ramah Programs in Israel and is beginning the Israeli bet midrash program at the Schechter institute.


Republicans Introduce “Unrealistic” ’67 Lines Resolution Supporting Israel

Source: JTA, 6-1-11

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representative introduced a bill reaffirming Bush administration principles on an Israeli-Palestinian of representatives 67 lines unrealistic

The non-binding resolution, initiated May 23 by Rep. Robert Dold (R-Ill.) and so far sponsored by another 36 Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives, reaffirms congressional resolutions in 2004 that backed up President Bush’s letter to Israel’s government that year that it was “unrealistic” that Israel return to 1967 lines.

Those resolutions were approved overwhelmingly in both the House and the U.S. Senate.

Dold’s initiative comes in the wake of disagreements between the Obama administration and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over President Obama’s policy of basing negotiations on the 1967 lines, with land swaps.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) is contemplating a similar Senate resolution. According to The Hill, a daily covering Congress, Lieberman may garner the backing of some Democrats, as well as broad Republican backing.

Taglit Israel celebrates 10th anniversary

Buenos Aires awards cultural prize to artists inspired by organization’s trips to Israel

Source: Ynetnews, 12-28-10

Taglit-Birthright in Argentina marked its 10-year anniversary recently with a series of events, including the opening of an art exhibition inspired by Taglit at the Carla-Ray Gallery in Buenos Aires, which received honors from the city.

The event was attended by the Israeli ambassador to Argentina, Daniel Gazit, and the vice president of Taglit Marketing and Development, Prof. Ada Spitzer.

To celebrate its tenth anniversary, Taglit-Birthright Israel initiated a unique project in Argentina, combining social responsibility and art.

A group of students from the ORT Jewish High School in Buenos Aires created models of aircraft made of wood. Dozens of leading Argentine artists, Jews and non-Jews, painted on the planes, their inspiration being “the desire to identify”, as expressed on Taglit-Birthright Israel trips, which bring young Jews between the ages 18-26 to Israel, for a free ten-day educational trip.

The aircraft represent the trip to Israel and the participants’ experience of discovering their identity that takes place during their stay in Israel. The exhibition has received the support of the Buenos Aires city government.

The painted aircraft project was awarded the Cultural prize for social entrepreneurship last Thursday, by the Ecumenical Social Forum in Buenos Aires. The prestigious prize acknowledges initiatives aimed at improving community life and encouraging community solidarity.

Painted aircraft project (Photo: Taglit)

During the ten years of its existence, Taglit has brought over a quarter million young Jews from around the world to Israel. To date, 10,000 young Jews from Argentina have participated in Taglit-Birthright Israel trips….READ MORE

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