As much as your Jewish mother (whether that means your Jewish father, mother, bubbe, or zaide) might want to send you to Israel, she's probably worried about your safety. Here’s what you need to know to ease her fears (and any of your own):
- Taglit-BirthrightIsrael: Every group’s daily itinerary is preapproved by the Israeli government and adjusted as needed to address potential security concerns; plus each group carries a GPS device, which keeps Israeli authorities aware of its location at all times. With the exception of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, groups do not visit the West Bank, Gaza, or East Jerusalem. For more info: www.birthrightisrael.com.
- URJ Programs (KESHER Birthright Israel, Tamarim:The Netzer Year): The Reform Movement follows Birthright’s security procedures for KESHER Birthright trips and takes similar precautions for Tamarim students. Should security risks develop, URJ professionals in the U.S. and Israel will change the group’s itinerary and post daily security updates on www.kesherbirthright.org, www.netzeryear.org/faqs, and www.netzeryear.org/parents.
- MASA:Many programs listed on MASA's website have similar security policies. Security information can be found on the individual program’s website, linked from the MASA homepage.
With precautions like these, your mother can rest assured…and then get back to nagging you about settling down with a nice Jewish boy/girl and giving her grandchildren!
- Deborah Swerdlow, fourth-year journalism student at the University of Florida, Gainesville and former co-president of UF’s KESHER group