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Birthright heritage trips to Israel still scheduled amid war

Posted at 9:35 PM, Oct 12, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — Jaren, a student at the University of Utah, has been dreaming about going on Birthright since he was six or seven years old.

“Ever since I was a kid, my rabbi always told me about Birthright and how it's just a great way great experience to visit Israel,” he said. “Hearing everyone's stories and trip experiences in general, they just all say it's life-changing.”

Birthright is a free, ten-day heritage trip to Israel that any young Jewish person can go on in either the winter or the spring. Many college students go through Hillel groups on campus. Within hours of receiving his acceptance this week to go on the December trip, Jaren declined to go, after seeing everything going on in Israel.

“It's a big deal,” he said. “I don't think by December it's going to be over, so time will tell. As far as I know right now, it doesn't seem like it's going to end soon.”

None of the scheduled trips have been canceled yet by Birthright Israel, said Alex Shapiro, Executive Director of the United Jewish Federation of Utah.

“I think that we should all remain hopeful that travel will be possible," he said. "And that the experience will be safe and people can choose to travel to Israel."

Safety is a priority, but every young Jewish person deserves to go on Birthright when they want to, said Shapiro.

“Birthright is important because it gives the entire young Jewish community to connect in their own space and in their own way from their own perspective and in ways that are important for them,” he said.

To be eligible for the trip, you must be between ages 18 and 26, so at least Jaren has a little more time left to go.

“I really want to be a part of that and experience that myself,” he said. “So hopefully one day.”

The U of U trip is still currently scheduled to leave on December 18 and return by December 29.