Wednesday, June 01, 2005

As a favor to a young Canadian blogger who is trying to collect enough funds to be able to spend more than just a short holiday in Israel, here is a link to a posting on her blog, in which she explains her cause. I am not a great fan of most of the different programs that bring young Jews to Israel ( either these youngsters get a highly subsidized holiday (*) or they have to pay thousands of dollars to middlemen and -women who make a nice living out of this business; I seriously wonder if all the money that is spent on these projects by the state of Israel and by different Jewish organizations could not be spent in better, more productive and more Zionist ways ), but Rebecca seems to be sincere and desperate, so the least that I could do was to accede to her request by mentioning this on my blog. Good luck to her! (*) PS: When I was in Jerusalem the other day I saw several buses with Birthright youngsters, both in Yad Vashem and on Mount Herzl. When we reached Yitzhak Rabin's grave we heard loud laughter from a group of English-speaking Birthrighters. Our six-year old daughter told us "Why are they laughing? This is a graveyard, that is not funny, and it is not nice to laugh like that." Their guide was apparently telling jokes about Rabin's smoking habits. Later, near the cemetery's exit, I saw one of them trying to be a real Israeli by spitting the remains of sunflower seeds on the ground right next to the bus. Thank you very much. Sometimes I get the feeling that many of these young people just see Israel as one big theme park, where you can come once every couple of years to feel good about yourself and to bond with the Jewish part of your identity. I think these programs should be less noncommittal on the one hand, and on the other hand totally free for anyone who is ready to make some kind of serious commitment ( community work here, for instance ). Of course there are people whose Birthright-visit to Israel is the start of a very close link with Israel, and sometimes even of a process leading to aliyah, but apart from Rinat ( of Balagan ) I do not 'know' anyone who decided to build his life here after having participated in Birthright. I would be happy to receive any data proving that my pessim- and cynicism are unfounded or out of proportion.

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