Haaretz: Mr. Zev Wolfson & Israeli Politicians To Start Frum-Version Of Birthright


YW-BC-5768-42.JPGIn an exclusive story, Haaretz News has learned that Frum Israeli politicians have recently allocated NIS 10 million in public funds to encourage young Chareidim to visit Eretz Yisroel. The funds would build a Chareidi alternative to the largely secular Taglit-birthright Israel trips.

The money is earmarked for ultra-Orthodox programs within the Education Ministry. Among other politicians, Shas Minister for education and welfare matters in the Finance Ministry Meshulam Nahari aided in securing the funding.

It was Taglit’s success that prompted philanthropist Zev Wolfson to begin efforts toward establishing a Taglit-like Chareidi program to introduce participants to various yeshivas across Eretz Yisroel.

Wolfson is expected to match the funding Nahari had secured. The initial capital is meant to fund a three-week tour in Israel for some 900 Frum students. The upcoming tour will be twice as long as in the Taglit program.

Participants will visit both religious and Israeli heritage sites. The former will include Yad Vashem, The Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority in Yerushalayim and Ammunition Hill, the site of one of the toughest battles in the Six Day War.


  1. Maybe the money should be given to Israeli families so that their breadwinners do not have to travel overseas to schnorr to maintain their Right To Life!!

  2. Yeh but on the other hand, Lakewood is almost the size of Brooklyn now populationwise and all of these people are filling up America, while in Israel they could make a difference against the government as well as the huge Arab population growth…

    could you imagine what Israel would be like with a million more (at least) Agudah voters?

  3. no one in israel has to leave to ask for money for food. i have not seen one person hungry in the street in Israel in 5 years. I asked a doctor at Ickalov and no one is bought to the hospital here for famine problems!

    About 4 or so years ago, there were individual frum people who single handedly convinced the tzyoynist ‘Birthright’ to have FRUM, Torahdike, and SEPARATE (boys & girls) tours. And the tours were targeting yeshiveshe boucrim and bais yakkov girls, with special alternative itineraries i.e. NOT going to certain ‘mandatory’ Zionist places, and INCLUDING going to makomos hakedoshim etc, which were all CONTRARY to the ‘RULES’ of Birthright. There were even learning sedorim set up for the boys trips!!
    In fact, EACH participant was interviewed and ‘checked into’ by these frum volenteers, to make sure the trips have a good toradike chevrah.
    Many frum teens whose parents could have never afforded sending their kids to EY, got a FREE chance to live out their dreams!! It was gevaldik!! An entire Eretz Yisroel unforgettable summer experience was free!!
    Unfortunately, due to pure Motzi shem ra (spreading of malicious lies) about some girls from the trip posing in pictures with Chayalim (Israeli solders) – some Rabonnim hearing this, went and AS’SURED these trips! They even went as far as taking out full page ads in the Yated and Hamodia, condemning the trips and their organizers!
    When the tzyoynist ‘Birthright’ found out that CHARIDI rabbis are banning the ‘charidi’ versions of their trips they were so insulted, and offended, especially because they considered that they bent over backwards to accommodate ALL of the requests – (including budgeting more money for their alternative itinerary, and providing BADAT’Z ONLY meals etc. – the list goes on…..) they put an end to Charidi trips!! A very sad ending, and crushing so many frum teens dreams!! So I say, Good luck Mr. Wolfson, I hope your version wont be banned!! (writing this post, brings to mind the many articles posted here about the At risk teens, and how the problem is, we say ASSUR to everything. –who knows, this may have prevented some teens from going to worse places those summers… who knows??!!)

  5. Many thanks to Zev Wolfson for sponsoring a frum birthright trip. I cannot understand how anyone can question its purpose. It will give a wonderful oppertunity for the children of parents who are in chinuch and cannot afford to send their children on these trips. They will benefit tremendously. May Zev Wolfson be blessed for his good deeds.

  6. I say that this is an unbelievable idea, even though this type of trip was available or was already tried.
    There are many organazations and causes that for sure receive substantial assistance from major gevirim and this choshevah individual. Making this his new project doesn’t in anyway affect the other causes.
    By giving children an oppurtunity to go to Eretz Yisroel before their years in Seminary and Beis Medrash, can truly inspire and help change their own Yiddishkeit for the better. Especially living in a world full of darkness and gloom.
    May he have success in this amazing project, amen.

  7. Where can i get information on these “already existing” trips to eretz yisroel for the frum community??? Anyone out there have a number to call???

  8. For anyone who thinks that frum people can go on birthright trips, call the OU, identify yourself as a frum person, and ask about going on birthright.

  9. I know someone who used to work at the OU Synagogue Services department. Birthright changed the rules to make it harder for yeshiva students to go. Their goal is to get irreligious, non-affiliated Jews to visit Israel, not to provide a free tour to Yeshiva students. There are NO boys-only trips, even from the OU. The Ou’s birthright tours are for ncsy kiruv and are co-ed. Wolfson is filling a large gap .

  10. #3 We are can use an introduction and reintroduction to E”Y, since it is almost void in our children’s education.
    Parents have been begging our sons’ hanalah to teach about the kedoshim in some type of holocaust studies, etc. and some hashkafa re: E”Y, not only the one-sided treif treif bit, kids who are mature and intellicually curious laugh at that type of chinuch..
    Wonderful idea, have a few young adults that can benefit from this program, there has been several communications with Birthright over the years to offer a program for the frum teen. Finally it has arrived, going for our passports this week. Hurray.

  11. feifun
    Canada probably has a different Birthright than the one in the USA, when we tried a program for frum kids it worked for two tours. Then it was cancelled, of course!!!! The rumors from TAGLIT was that kids used the tour to get to Israel for seminary or yeshiva, using the free airfare, so that the families wouldnot have to pay. They did not participate and avail themselves of the lectures, tours and program. Do not know if this is fact, fiction or fantasy?!?!

  12. I love the headline that this is a new ‘frum’ version of the free trips to Israel. I guess anything which is not backed by Agudah or some really right wing organization is considered not frum. The other Frum trips that visit some “zionist’ sites are considered freigh. i get it now yeshiva world.

  13. frumblogger (#7),
    You say that rabbonim assured the trips because they said girls on the trip had their pics taken with chayalim. You have 2 choices. Either to give the benefit of the doubt to the rabbonim that they know what they are talking about, or to give the benefit of the doubt to the frei people who run birthright and assume the story about the pictures is untrue and the rabbonim made it up.

    I find it amazing that you chose the latter.

    Do you have any proof that those pics were never taken or do you just have a knee jerk urge to blame rabbonim whenever possible?

  14. I once went on their frum trip and there was not one thing that was done without daas torah. It happened to have been probably the best 10 days of my life…every minute was so special! I wish I can afford to go on such a tour again..

  15. to charlie brown, thanks for putting it out straight.
    people people, whether there is a program out there similar to this, or whether there isn’t: is there any organazation out there that does the same work as another one, and there you dont complain? the more organazations, the more they can continue reaching out to many more people.

  16. Sounds wierd. Everybody knows that the Wolfsons mostly do kiruv. Maybe this $ is for kiruv too. That would answer all the questions above and the cardinal question of why would the State of Israel fund frum people to come from wealthy America to Israel?

  17. Last week the NY Sun had a great article on Birthright and its successes. Now they are set to intensify the follow up, before it was somewhat hap-hazzard. Kiruv is the name of the game.

    Now Mr. Wolfson, with the best of intensions, must have gotten his ear or arm bent by the right-wing – – like they’re missing out on something – – in other words money that was being well spent on Kiruv will now be spent on vacations for the yungerleit. Perhaps they will get a feel for the real secular Israel ( that include intermarrisge, gays & drugs), and they too will be enticed to stray from the fold as many have already done.

    Mr Wolfson, rethink your decision.

  18. Sounds like kiruv for kerovim – quite a challenge to get frum yeshiva kids to see Israel from the perspective of an ‘avin tov’.
    Photos with chaylim, ever notice how everyone who visits Israel comes home with photos with chayalim from the kosel, kever rochel, chevron, – or the chayalim might even be family members (only extended family relatives and 3rd cousin, twice removed on the side of a grannie who was niftar).

  19. yog – because they know that the population of Israel in just a few generations will not be Jewish – if Hashem lets us stay there that long.

  20. nishtfarVos Come yourself on one of the frum birthright tours, you can use it, if you were educated that ‘real secular jews’ are as you describe. So So narrow and unaware of the real Israel, only what the papers tell you.

  21. Birthright was intended to introduce unaffiliated secular Jewish teenagers to Israel and by extension to Yiddishkeit. What they found was that at least for a couple of years after the trip most kids still indentified Jewishly on some level.it also ignited some sparks that could be fanned by local kiruv people.
    Why frum people (who identify Jewishly) need a birthright trip is puzzling.

  22. Birthright has been around for about eight years. Most frum people who wanted to go on it have already. They have had many frum trips in the past. Also most frum students go to Israel anyway to learn, and the few that don’t have jobs to afford them the oppourtunity. Birthright is not for kids its for 18-26 adults most of whom have money of their own and dont rely solely on their “rabeim” parents for money.

  23. frum people need birthright trips just as much, if not more, than secular kids on a different level.

    Many frum people think it’s ok to sit in comfortable America and ignore Israel, and that they can be a good Jew without having anything to do with Israel, with all sorts of convenient “halachos” that make them feel better.

    Meanwhile the only argument is whether or not it is an actual chiyuv to live in Israel, rather than whether or not it’s a mitzvah., ven though people like to say there isn’t a mitzvah to live there now. A good source happens to be Rav Baruch Chait’s kid’s book, the second in the Middos series, I forget its name. He brings tons of halachos about it.

  24. Have some respect for Mr. Wolfson!!! Hes the biggest Baal Tzedakah in the world today. He’s responsible for the “Kiruv Revolution” that has occured over the last 20 years.This program (For those of you with knowledge of their workings) probably is not catered for Yeshiva guys, but they have geniusly spun it to the Israeli media in a way that they would not attack it. If they knew that the Israeli government was supporting Kiruv they would have a heart attack. Mr. Wolfson, Thank you so much for all you’ve done. We need more people like you!! May you be zocheh to a long amd healthy life filled with nachas from all of your accomplishements.