Shalom Life | October 19, 2015

Record-High Number of French Jews Attend Birthright Israel Trip

French participation on Birthright is higher than ever

By: B. Shane Morganstein

Published: May 26th, 2015 in News » Israel

Photo: Birthright Israel participants ride camels


In the wake of recent rising anti-Semitism in France, a record number of French Jews are visiting Israel as part of the Taglit-Birthright Israel program. Taglit-Birthright, an organization which bring Jews of the Diaspora to visit the Holy Land, will be sponsoring 1,500 French Jews to visit Israel, learn about Jewish history and culture, and become closer with their Jewish identities.

"The Jewish community in France is in a crisis," reported Emmanuel Sion, Recruitment Director for Birthright. "Many young Jews are asking themselves about their future and what their place is in French society due to the anti-Semitism," Sion told Tazpit News Agency.

This spike in French participation in the Birthright trip is especially significant, considering the recent death of Yoav Hattib. The 21-year-old son of the Chief Rabbi of Tunis was one of 550 participants in the French Taglit-Birthright trip this past winter. Hattib had just returned to France from his trip when he was murdered in the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket terror attack on Friday, January 9.

Organizers like Sion hope that the trip will help to increase Jewish pride among the French participants. Considering that a recent report suggests that some 50,000 French Jews considered making Aliyah in 2014, Sion and his colleagues hope that, "The Taglit trip will strengthen their connection to Israel and their Jewish identity. These participants will be able to go back to France and strengthen the community there."

This year's trip, while featuring visits to many sites across the country, will also include a new addition to the French itinerary - a visit to the grave of Hattib, who was buried in Jerusalem alongside the other three victims of the Hyper Cacher terror attack.

This year, Taglit-Birthright is expecting 30,000 young Jewish adults to participate in its 10-day long program touring the nation-state of the Jewish people, hailing from as far away as South Africa and Panama. Furthermore, thanks to a steady rise in participation in the program over the last 15 years, Birthright will be welcoming its 500,000th participant during this summer's trip.

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