Birthright Israel is poised to take its 100,000th Jewish young adult to Israel for a 10-day educational experience. The program has reached massive numbers of college-age Jews, and already nearly 25,000 North American young adults have applied in recent weeks for the 10,000 or so slots available for this coming summer. What, though, about the tens of thousands of students who do not get to participate in Birthright Israel? The fact that most Jewish students, including some who have been part of Israel experience programs, reside on a college campus does little to further their Jewish engagement. College is a decidedly secular institution devoted to empiricism and critical thought. By its very nature, it may be anathema to Jewish life.
In the Forward, March 10, 2006.