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Zionist Federation of Australia welcomes Gandel Philanthropy’s ongoing commitment to Jewish continuity

Zionist Federation of Australia welcomes Gandel Philanthropy’s ongoing commitment to Jewish continuity

Taglit-Birthright Israel is a visionary program that provides a free 10-day educational tour of Israel for young Jewish adults aged 18-26 who have never previously participated in a peer-group educational trip to Israel. The Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA) is proud to represent the Australian Jewish community as the local partner in this unique project. The ZFA is thrilled to announce the recommitment of Gandel Philanthropy for the Taglit-Birthright Israel program. The new three-year grant will go towards supporting three groups in the coming year, with a further commitment for the following two years. As Principal Australian Supporter, the contribution from Gandel Philanthropy will enable 360 young adults – many of whom are currently largely unaffiliated with the Australian Jewish community and have never visited Israel – to experience this life-changing program over the next three years. The landmark Gen08 study on Jewish Continuity revealed compelling information regarding the impact of the Taglit-Birthright Israel program specifically.  A direct experience in Israel is associated with a stronger Jewish identification across a range of indicators including: religiosity, friendship patterns, identification with Zionism, attitudes towards intermarriage and choice of a Jewish partner. “My family strongly believes in supporting effective programs that foster and enhance Jewish continuity and identity, and help develop the future leaders in our community. This is amply evident with the Taglit-Birthright Israel program and the results it has achieved so far. We are very proud to continue to be associated with this worthy initiative,” said Mr John Gandel AO, Chairman of Gandel Philanthropy. “We are delighted that Gandel Philanthropy has recommitted to supporting young adults participating in Taglit-Birthright Israel.

Taglit-Birthright Israel trips provide these individuals with an opportunity not only to connect to their own Jewish identity and to Israel, but also to the Jewish community on their return. The outcomes of the program for the participants are priceless, in terms of Jewish continuity, and successive academic studies have demonstrated the positive impact of Taglit-Birthright Israel by reducing intermarriage rates of participants” said ZFA President Danny Lamm. Gandel Philanthropy supported three groups in the past year, including two groups organised by the ZFA Hagshama department which travelled in July this year. Despite the conflict in Israel, the participants’ feedback has been unanimously positive and powerful.

Reflecting on his Taglit-Birthright Israel experience earlier this year, program alum Kon Knafelman said: “My Hagshama Birthright experience was profound. Since the age of 12 I have gradually been losing connection with Judaism and all that it entails. My identity as a young Australian Jew was at risk of being forgotten all together. Pushed aside. Birthright was my first trip to Israel and I can honestly say that the program has significantly changed the way I feel about my Jewish identity and also reinforced my connection with the Jewish culture. Israel, the Jewish State, is such an amazing place and it has so much to offer all Jews not matter where they call home. The Hagshama team were amazing. They were a huge part of my Birthright experience. I will recommend Birthright to others that I know. I feel very privileged to have been given this opportunity.” Since its inception in 2000, more than 400,000 young Jews from 62 countries around the world have taken part in the Taglit-Birthright Israel program, including over 4,000 Australians. In 2014, the ZFA will have sent a total of 320 young Jewish adults to Israel on a Taglit-Birthright Israel experience.

For more information please contact Ginette Searle on (03) 9272 5644 or email gsearle@zfa.com.au