JBuzz Features November 1, 2012: Leonard Saxe: Birthright Israels Effect Still Strong Years After Trip




Birthright’s Effect Still Strong Years After Trip

Source: Jewish Week, 11-1-12

Latest study, which tracks alums from six to 11 years out, finds impact on life choices and outlook

Indeed, a new report from Brandeis University’s Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies — the third in an ongoing longitudinal study comparing young American Jews who participated in the free Israel trip to those who did not — finds that six to 11 years later, the experience continues to affect life choices and outlooks.

Among the findings of the study based on interviews with almost 2,000 people, Birthright alumni — when compared to those who applied for but did not end up taking a Birthright trip between 2001-06 — are:

  • 45 percent more likely to be married to someone Jewish, whether by birth or conversion (however, only 35 percent are married so far);
  • 42 percent more likely to feel “very much” connected to Israel;
  • 23 percent more likely to view raising future children as Jews as “very important”;
  • 22 percent more likely to indicate that they are at least “somewhat confident” in explaining the current situation in Israel.

Nearly 30 percent of participants have returned to Israel on subsequent trips, with 2 percent currently living there. And 25 percent are married to other Birthright alumni, although few met their spouse on the trip itself. (Seven percent of the control group is married to Birthright alumni.)

“As the Birthright population has gotten older, as they’ve moved away from the program, the effects are as strong, or even stronger, than they were,” Leonard Saxe, the director of the Cohen Center and its Steinhardt Social Research Institute, told The Jewish Week. To be sure, this is not the first Cohen Center report touting the impact of the 13-year-old initiative, which boasts 200,000 North American alumni and whose mega-philanthropist founders — Charles Bronfman and Michael Steinhardt — have helped finance the research…READ MORE

The study is available at Brandeis University