Regarding the story “Who’s To Say How Funders Spend Their Money?” (Between the Lines, March 29) — how can Birthright’s success be measured? It is not a religious trip, it presents one side of Israel, and there’s no follow-up obligation.
While Birthright has to show positive numbers to donors seeking positive returns, the question remains: what are positive returns? Birthright organizers, philanthropists and young adults must ask themselves what they want out of Birthright and what’s the best way to look forward.
One failure of Birthright in my opinion, having participated in 2007 and since returned to Israel for a year of study and volunteering, is that young adults are given a free trip to Israel with no “collateral” other than a deposit. It is hoped that these young Jewish men and women will go inspire others in their home countries and ultimately return to their homeland. The reality is quite different as many participants in the program sever ties from Birthright when they come home. Some don’t return or even share their experiences. The best return is a return to Israel.