This study paper is a follow up on the Taglit-Birthright Israel program succeeding at diminishing the divisions between Israel and the Jewish communities in North America. This is done by offering a ten-day trip to Israel in hopes of strengthening bonds and solidarity amongst the two groups.
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The inception of the program in the year 1999 has seen different people mainly from North America take part in the trips with a small number from other countries. Taglit-Bright Israel program is a half billion dollar joint plan of individual contributors.
The main financers of this program include the Diaspora Jewish organizations and the State of Israel. The Taglit-Bright Israel program supports, funds, and licenses the operation of the trips through different groups. The program runs tours to Israel during winter and summer sessions.
The introduction of this program has received varied opinions from the relevant parties with main contenders arguing that the program has been effective in its objectives. For those who have been on the trip and involved in the activities of the program, the program has been helpful to their understanding of the Jewish culture. In addition, the programs have strengthened their Jewish activities and beliefs.
Some people have the idea that the program has failed because of the notion that once people come back from the trips they do not put the knowledge gained to practice. The difference in the opinion of the relevant parties in the program was the main reason for research on the effectiveness of the program.
I carried out a research to get first hand opinions from Jewish people who have been on the trip and the impact the tour had on their lives and belief in the Jewish religion. From the previous paper, it was almost certain that the effectiveness of the tours was only beneficial to the few interested parties.
However, the information collected from secondary sources contributed to the conclusion that the programs were effective and achieving their goals even though it is at a slow pace. Concluding that the Taglit-Bright Israel program is a success bases on the other strategies the program employs in achieving its objectives.
For instance, apart from the tours, the program also organizes group discussion circles, site rituals, tangible experiences, role-modeling forums, and cross-cultural peer-to-peer encounters (Sachar 64).
These other strategies help to integrate visitors by counteracting distance experienced. From such information, it is easier for one to draw conclusions of the successfulness and effectiveness of the program in diminishing the distinctions between the two groups.
The following section of the study paper will analyze information from the research carried out. The research involved four respondents who have prior experience of the Israel tours organized by Taglit-Birthright Israel program. The research bases its information on the personal experiences of the interviewees with the Taglit-Birthright Israel program.
The questionnaire in use will cover varied areas that will be useful in providing information concerning the effectiveness of the programs. The questionnaire has ten main questions that cover for different stages of the research. The first set of questions in the questionnaire seeks information concerning the respondents’ experiences and feelings prior to the tour.
These include their origin, involvement with the local Jewish community, and their source of information concerning the Taglit-Birthright program. The next set of questions covers the part concerning their experiences while on the tour and the knowledge gained. The last part focuses on the respondents’ analysis of the tour and its significance in their lives and religious practices (Dershowitz 72).
The first interviewee is a 26-year-old Jewish-Igor man and has previously been on the Birthright tour. The second interviewee is Ron, a 26-year-old Jewish man whose family immigrated to Canada from Russia.
During their relocation, the family made a stopover in Israel and his reasons for taking part in the tour was because of he strongly agrees with the objectives of the program. Kenneth is the third interviewee who lives in Thorn hill Ontario.
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The family was originally from Ukraine, and his main reason for participating in the research was to preach the importance of the trips. Lastly, we have Miriam, a 30-year-old woman practicing Reform Jew and currently engaged to a non-Jew man. The criteria for choosing the participants were unsophisticated and logical.
The main characteristic of the respondents was prior participation on the Israel tours followed by being Jewish of the 26 to 30 years age bracket. Locating the respondents was with the help of the Taglit-Birthright offices who keep contacts of the people who have been on the tours previously.
The research based on people from different regions of North America. The main challenge in the process of identifying the respondents was the distance aspect. The program attracts people from all over the continent and locating one person to interview was quite hectic.
For instance, one respondent lives in Canada and the next one is in Ukraine. This called for extra expenditure on transport. More so, some of the respondents may have relocated and are no longer residents of North America.
The interviews had varied findings concerning the research question. It is almost certain from the responses in the interviews that few people involve themselves with the local Jewish community. The only time the people of North America celebrate their Jewish religion is during the Jewish celebrations such as Bar Mitzvah, Purim, Chanukah parties, which are all set up by the local synagogue.
The Jewish people in this region seem to have abandoned their religion and do not fully commit to its teachings and requirements. This could be because of the mixing with other religions, which seem easier to practice. The main source of information pertaining Taglit-Birthright Israel program is other Jewish people in the region, the government, and other Jewish organizations.
People know about the programs when they are young people and wait for the time when they get to the required age to be part of the tours. Most of the respondents cite getting firsthand experience on the daily lives of Israeli Jews as the main reason they got involved in the tours. On the other hand, some used the trips as a way of meeting new Jewish people and have fun (Frankel and Steven 56).
Different people reported different experiences while on tours to Israel. The greatest similarity is the experience of the geographical cites in Israel such as the Dead Sea, the desert, the Wailing Wall, and other eye-catching scenes. On the religious side, the most fascinating and knowledgeable experience was the Shabbat dinner which was graced by the presence of a rabbi.
The tour involved the participants receiving teachings about Israel and Jewish heritage that was more fascinating. The trip led to the creation of relationships amongst the Jews who had travelled to Israel. The majority seem to have developed strong relationships with their fellow Jews on the trip for instance some respondents boast of having best friends and spouses from the trip!
Unfortunately, some people lost contact after the trip and are no longer in touch. These built relationships can be seen from the meetings these people hold after the trip and the most people are the Jews from the trips. On the subject, of the Israeli Jews compared to Canadian Jews the participants record some notable difference that is in line with prior observations.
Some of the respondents found the Israeli Jews to be unfriendly, cold, and pushy people while others considered them to warm and communal people. For those who had a marvelous settling amongst people of other religions found the Israel Jews to be unfriendly while for those who had a tough transition took them to be welcoming (Lawee, Sarah and Judith 46).
From the responses of the interviewees, the experiences they had in Israel helped encourage their Jewish identity. Primarily the information the participants gained from the trip was positive, and they could not have found the information anywhere else. For one respondent, the trip helped him to be a pro- Israel and when back home he referred to himself as an Israeli-Canadian.
The utmost notable difference between the two parties in the way they identify themselves- Israeli Jews refer to themselves as Israelis while the others lack identity (Kippenberger 67).
The trip helped boost the Jewish identity of the participants as they came back ready to relate themselves the Jewish community without fear. More so, the trip helps them to be strict on observing the Jewish traditions and cultures.
A good percentage of the respondents gave positive feedback concerning the program, and they encourage people to go the trips to get first information of the Jews in Israel. While back to home, the participants continued promoting Jewish culture and Taglit-Birthright program. They all agree on the positive things learnt from the trip concerning Jewish and Israel.
The information gathered from the interview furthered my belief that Taglit-Birthright Israel Program is an effective investment that aims at closing the gap between the two parties. Through having firsthand experience of the Jewish lifestyle and meeting other people, there difference between these two parties is slowly diminishing.
The Taglit-Birthright Israel program has been instrumental in enlightening the Jews of North America about the Israeli Jews. This has been using trips to Israel and the other strategies that also enlighten on the Jews cultures and traditions. From the programs, the Jews realize that there is minimal difference between the two parties only that the extent of faith in the religion brings the difference.
The participants in the tours and the other strategies are willing people who lack enough knowledge concerning the ways of the Jews. By meeting, other people on the trip with similar interests and backgrounds enabled the respondents to identify more with the Jewish religion and be pro-Israel.
The data from the interview were in line with the earlier speculations of the effectiveness of Taglit-Birthright Israel program (Taubman and Brian 82).
The information from the respondents was only reinforcing the earlier speculations that supported the activities of Taglit-Birthright Israel programs. Despite the few challenges, the programs receive the results of its activities can be seen as positive as people have a different opinion regarding the Israelis.
Some of the people who take part in the trips wish to go back to Israel and learn more about their cultures and traditions that was not the case. The ideology that once Jewish youths return to North America they toss their new found Jewishness aside and re- embrace American and Canadian culture.
The respondents continue to practice the traditions and cultures learnt on the trip and even seek more information, which can help them strengthen their religious standings. They observe Jewish celebrations once back home as compared to before they went to Israel.
The rising number of people interested in taking part in the tour and other strategies the program organizes is a clear indication of the effectiveness of the program and the positive significance it has on the people.
Dershowitz, Alan M. The case for Israel. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, 2003. Print.
Frankel, Jonathan and Steven Zipperstein. Assimilation and community: the Jews in nineteenth-century Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992. Print.
Kippenberger, Tony. Leadership Express. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2002. Print.
Lawee, Eric Jay, Sarah Carlen and Judith Cohen. Sefardic encounters: from medieval Spain to modern times. Toronto: Centre for Jewish Studies, 2006. Print.
Sachar, Howard Morley. A history of the Jews in the modern world. New York: Knopf, 2005. Print.
Taubman, Tatyana and Brian Hesse. Reflections on Taglit-Birthright Israel. University Park: Pennsylvania State University, 2010. Print.