The Taglit-Birthright Israel program, which sends young Jews on free trips to Israel, celebrated its milestone 500,000th participant this week.
In a ceremony in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, 24-year-old Molly Dodd from New Jersey presented Birthright cofounders Michael Steinhardt and Charles Bronfman with framed letters from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from 1998, in which he gave his blessing for the program to begin.
Since 2000, approximately 500,000 Jews aged 18-26, from over 66 countries and all 50 US states, have gone on Birthright trips. The free 10-day Jewish identity-building trips immerse young adults in Israeli culture and Jewish history.
In addition, 65,000 Israelis have participated in Birthright’s Mifgash program, which brings together Israelis and Diaspora Jews.