JERUSALEM (JTA) — Some 3,000 young Jews from around the world celebrated Birthright Israel’s bar mitzvah year with a party in Jerusalem.
"You come from different countries; you speak different languages; you have different cultures. But you all have one thing in common: Israel is your birthright; Israel is your common homeland," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the participants Monday night.
"Anybody who comes here sees the true Israel. Israel is the place where Jewish history comes alive. Here you tread in the footsteps of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and Sarah, Rebecca and Rachel and Leah. You stand exactly where King David stood not very far from here. And you also can see how we turned the hopes and dreams of thousands of years into a reality.
"You see this marvelous high-tech city of Tel Aviv; you see this flowering city of Jerusalem," he said. "You have come home. And I want you to tell the world about what you see here. Because Israel is not merely about the Jewish past, it’s about the Jewish future."
Birthright co-founders Michael and Judy Steinhardt attended the event.
Birthright has brought more than 330,000 young Jews aged 18 to 26 from around the world to Israel.