Despite the Economic Slump, Birthright Israel Trips Continue

Registration opened today for the free educational trips.

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Although the global economy is currently a mess, young Jewish adults can still look forward to their likely once-in-lifetime free trips to Israel. Registration opened today at 9 a.m. Eastern time for Birthright Israel, an organization that sponsors 10-day trips to the country each summer and winter for those in the 18-to-26 age group.

The largest donors of the program are a group of philanthropists, followed by the Israeli government, according to the Institute for Global Jewish Affairs. The rest of the funding comes from various Jewish community organizations. Despite this hefty backing, Birthright Israel has run into a few "fundraising conundrums" and may not be financially indestructible, according to the Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle. In late December, Forward, a U.S.-based Jewish weekly magazine, reported that Birthright Israel might be unable to pay for thousands of summer 2009 trips due to the financial problems of its largest donor.

The average cost of the trip is about $2,300 per participant. In the institute's post about the program, Leonard Saxe, a professor of Jewish community research at Brandeis University and coauthor of Ten Days of Birthright Israel: A Journey in Young Adult Identity, said that it's remarkable that relative stability in costs has been maintained over the years.