Philanthropist Michael Steinhardt hosted some 800 alumni of birthright israel at his estate.
Steinhardt, who initiated the birthright program and is among its primary funders, brought in U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Newark Mayor Cory Booker to address the crowd. Entertainment at the Bedford, N.Y., estate included the Jewish rapper Remedy and Israeli folk singer Einat Sarouf. Guests could also visit Steinhardt’s private zoo of exotic animals.
The event was one of a growing number of follow-up activities for the 144,000 Jews aged 18 to 26 who have taken the free trips to Israel since they were first offered in 2000.
“The hope is that you will all become proud Jews,” Steinhardt, a former hedge fund mogul, told the crowd. “The hope is that you will be proud to take one of the many Jewish paths, and only you can decide what is the right path for you.”