Thursday, October 24, 2013

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An Open Letter to Birthright

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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Dear Birthright,

     Thank you so much for being here, really. You are probably the most influential program in the entire Jewish world, today. It is proven that young Jews who take advantage of your wonderful offer, and come visit Israel for a free two-week trip, have a far less intermarriage rate than Jews who do not come! This is a tremendous gift to all of us.

     But, may I make a suggestion that will make your program even better? Match your tour guides with the sites they are visiting.

     For instance, do not have a tour guide who believes that half the Land of Israel should be given to the Arabs bring your groups to the Jewish communities over the Green Line. Obviously, they would not be able to objectively show the Birthrighters the wonderful things that are going on in those communities.

     You most likely do not have older ‘charedi (strictly Orthodox) tour guides escort the young groups to the bars in Tel Aviv on Saturday night. We all know that older ‘charedi tour guides make lousy dates (as least on those kinds of dates).

     But most importantly, please have religious-friendly tour guides bring the groups to the Kotel. It makes a vast difference in their experience there. If the guide is from an anti-religious kibbutz, the chances are that the young men in that group are not going to put on tefillin. This is so even though their experience with tefillin at the Kotel can change their lives in just a couple of minutes.

     I am at the Kotel every day for many years, and I often see the looks on the faces of the young men who come with tefillin-friendly guides who encourage their groups to, “try it and see,” and I have seen the Birthrighers who come to the Kotel with nonreligious guides. They sternly tell me that in no way are they going to put on tefillin. The entire group will refuse the experience! There is a huge difference between the Birthrighters with big smiles, and those with stern, almost angry looks!

     Keep up your good work, and maybe make it even better.

1 comments:

josh said...

While Birthright (thank you Sheldon Adelson and gamblers worldwide) is the main umbrella organization, the tours are outsourced and organized by numerous tour operators and the students can choose which one to go on. Naturally, there are tour operators that are pro-Aliyah, some are pro-Jewish, religious, pro-Zionist, and some with are pro-leftist, pro-secular, etc... FWIW, the old city is the only 'settlement' that the tours officially travel to and there are no other tour stops on the 'West Bank', unless the drive to the Dead Sea is considered.

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