Birthright Israel is cutting its budget by $35 million for 2009. Birthright, which sends Jews between the ages of 18 and 26 on free 10-day trips to Israel, had a budget of $110 million in the fiscal year that just ended, enabling the organization to send some 42,000 people to Israel. In the coming year, Birthright will only be able to send 25,000 because the program’s budget is dropping to $75 million, the president and CEO of the Birthright Foundation, Jay Golan, told JTA.
Golan, however, said that Birthright will most likely not be affected by the financial troubles of the company of its largest private benefactor, Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands company. The casino company is on the verge of bankruptcy, according to Bloomberg News.
Adelson gave some $60 million to Birthright Israel in 2006 and 2007. In 2008, he pledged $30 million to the organization to be paid out over the next two years. The money will pay for 6,000 trips, Golan said.