The Taglit-Birthright Israel program said that it is expected to surpass 500,000 participants over time during its 15th year of existence, which begins this May.
From May to September alone this year, Birthright projects that it will see 28,000 participants on its free 10-day trips to Israel for Jews ages 18-26.
“Prior to the inception of Taglit-Birthright Israel, only 1,500 young American Jewish adults visited Israel each year,” Birthright CEO Gidi Mark said in a statement. “In our first year, we brought 9,000-plus participants. Today, we have increased that number to nearly 45,000 participants annually from around the world.”
Mark said that Birthright’s upcoming milestone of 500,000 participants “is not only inspiring, but also motivation to continue pursuing our goal to bring Jewish young adults from all corners of the diaspora to Israel each year.”
In January 2014, JNS.org was the first to report a change in Birthright’s eligibility rules that opened up the free trips to teenagers who have already taken part in educational trips to Israel during high school.