Our dynamic range of programs includes: Type Investigations, formerly The Investigative Fund, incubates high-impact investigative reporting that holds the powerful accountable. Birthright Israel Foundation raises funds in the United States each year to support Birthright Israel. © Type Investigations document.write(new Date().getFullYear()). “People are very familiar with Birthright as the 10-day party of sex and drinking.”. “That shock and that compassion that I expected from Jewish institutions which had until then nurtured me, never happened,” she says. She says she planned to “try to create an atmosphere on the trip that honored Palestinian history.” But she also wanted something out of the trip that was very much in line with Birthright’s mission: to “form some Jewish relationships.”. Participants we spoke to say they wondered if experiences like those reported here are part of a larger communal pattern of obscuring the pain and isolation faced by assault and harassment survivors in favor of fostering a love of Israel. Birthright also told Jewish Currents that in recent years, they have increased training around misconduct. Not every birthright trip is created equally; each has a different focus and different types of participants. Other evidence also suggests that Birthright made some changes around this time. In fact, this winter, hundreds of participants were treated to a speech by Prime Minister Netanyahu himself, who quipped, “Statistically, 187% of you will meet your future husband and wife on this visit, maybe here tonight.”, To truly understand the context of Birthright, you have to understand Jewish survivalism, and the trips for young Jews that are arguably at its center. Group activities during a summer Birthright trip in 2016. With your help, we can continue to provide young Jewish adults with the life-changing gift of an educational trip to Israel for generations to come. Her co-leader on one trip in question in 2015, Benji Berlow, told Jewish Currents that he wasn’t surprised at all that she felt unsafe, describing the participants as “extremely inappropriate.” Birthright did not respond to a question about whether staffers lack authority and might be vulnerable to harassment themselves. At the same time, local Hillels and Jewish Federations can work with these groups and run their own staff trainings beforehand—so a college Hillel, for instance, might field and organize a trip that is then actually run in Israel by a provider. The optional extension is not part of the Birthright trip, and the participant is in that time like any tourist. Birthright is hardly the originator of social pressure to in-marry, date, and have “Jewish babies.” But its reputation is inextricably enmeshed with those larger cultural tropes, according to experts and participants alike.“I grew up being told things like ‘Jewish men are safe and spaces like these trips are safe and we can let our guard down,’” says Debra Guckenheimer, a sociologist who has extensively studied rape culture in Israel. [9], In 2010, Birthright launched an extension program called Birthright Excel. Reached by Jewish Currents, that friend said she remembers the call distinctly, especially the fear in Kassie’s voice and the process of staying on the phone with her for her entire solo walk back to the hotel. Birthright Israel is an innovative partnership between the people of Israel through the Government of Israel, private philanthropists and thousands of donors and Jewish communities around the world (North American Jewish Federations through the Jewish Federations of North America; the Jewish Agency for Israel; and Keren Hayesod). To her, and others we spoke with, what was toxic about the hook-up culture on the trip was not participants having sex; it was a combination of sexual pressure with gendered double-standards and skewed power dynamics—in this case, soldiers, staff, and groups of male participants who have social power over female participants.