Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Birthright Israel Sign-Ups Are Open (and you are VIPs!)

Just a quick post tonight while I compose my thoughts on Anthroplosion 2011.  Before too much time elapses, I wanted to post a few quick links for my fellow MOTs about Birthright Israel, since trip registration opened today and will probably be closed by tomorrow!

The Birthright trips that are open for registration will run during winter of 2011--2012.  Winter trips last until Spring Break in March.  You are eligible to go on Birthright if you are between the ages of 18 and 26 and have some Jewish heritage.  Note:  I was 27 when I went on my trip, but 26 when I applied.  If you're close to the age deadline, you can learn on the Birthright website the exact date on which you must be 26 to be eligible.

The Birthright trip is a 10-day tour through Israel led by a tour guide.  The trip is free---included is your roundtrip airfare, hotel/accommodation costs, all meals (you are given a small sum of cash to spend on the on-your-own lunches), transportation within the country, and costs of admission to attractions.  Not included are souvenirs, airline change fees (in case you extend your flight), and booze.  You have to pay a $250 deposit, which you will get back once you come back from the trip.
Photo courtesy of Ashley.

I had an amazing time on this trip and would highly recommend it to everyone who is eligible!!  Please let me know if you end up applying; I can help you get VIP status on your application through your affiliation with a past participant (me!).  (Edit:  My VIP status may only be good through Israel Outdoors; I'm not completely sure!)

  • The Birthright Israel website, with information about various trip providers.  Note:  This information is really convoluted and confusing.  Instead of signing up for the Birthright Israel program and then choosing a provider later, you sign up directly with the provider, who operates under the umbrella of Taglit.  There are lots of providers and it can get pretty confusing to parse through them.  The main thing to keep in mind is that, due to the conditions of Taglit funding, ALL trip providers must do 90% of the exact same stuff.  The 10% of ways in which they differ probably has very little impact on your trip experience.  The most impact you will see is in the type of people who choose to take your trip.  For example, choosing a provider that focuses on the religious aspects of the trip will include more people who went to Sunday school as kids than a secular trip.

  • Israel Outdoors, the trip provider whose trip I took back in March.  I HIGHLY recommend them!  I had an awesome time on the program and my fellow participants were some very chill, laid-back Jews.  Despite the name, there was only one night of camping!  Lots of walking and hiking though, which was a fantastic way to see the country.

On a hike through the Nachal Jilabun Canyon.

  • My trip recaps.  If you're not sold on taking this trip, or not sure what it involves, or not sure whether you'd enjoy a winter trip, you can read more about my experience at that link.  I went on a trip in early March and found the weather to be great---not too hot during the day, although a bit chilly at night.  (PACK LAYERS.)  I don't know what a trip would be like in December, or in July for that matter.  I do know that all trips have awesome, if not different, activities.  For example, winter trips visit a hot spring while summer trips go tubing down a river.

Please let me know in the comments or via email if you have any questions, and do let me know if you end up applying so I can help you get VIP status.  (Edit: I know Israel Outdoors considers alumni connections/VIP status, but I can't say for sure about the other providers.)

These trips fill up incredibly quickly, so I recommend that you pick a provider with minimal agonizing and fill out your application right now.  Don't take too much time to think it over or you may have to wait until Summer 2012!  (If you're turning 27 before then, you won't be eligible, so don't hesitate!)

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