Free trip to Israel sparks student interest (Sept. 1999)

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By Alan Brody, Mitzpeh managing editor

An exciting program being planned as a celebration of the millennium will allow 80 campus students to visit Israel during winter break at no cost. The program, known as Birthright 2000, is aimed at giving students who have never been to Israel a chance to explore the Holy Land.

The trip will be held from Jan. 5-16 for University of Maryland students and is being promoted as the largest college trip in history. Students will have the opportunity to explore the ancient city of Jerusalem, hike through the Galilee, check out nightlife in Tel Aviv, float in the Dead Sea, scale the heights of Masada, attend a concert with 3000 other college students from approximately 100 campuses, meet with Israeli students and political leaders, and learn about Israeli culture and expand their Jewish identity.

Philanthropists, Jewish communities worldwide, and the government of Israel have partnered to launch Birthright 2000 – whose goal  is to provide a free, first, peer-group trip to Israel as a birthright for every Jew. The trip includes travel to Israel on El Al from one of its five gateway cities (New York, Baltimore, Miami, Chicago, and Los Angeles). A $250 dollar deposit, fully refundable upon completion of the program, will be required. Participants can expect to stay in three- or four-star hotels across the country and meals will range from boxed lunches to buffets to sit-down dinners.

Campus will send four chaperones, yet to be announced, to accompany the students on the ten-day journey. In the first week alone, campus students submitted over 70 applications, and well over 100 students have already expressed interest in attending Birthright 2000.

In order to sign up for Birthright 2000 and be considered for acceptance, you must first visit http://www.israel2000.org and fill out the online application and then attend one of Hillel’s Birthright 2000 information sessions. The three remaining sessions, led by Scott Brown, will be held on Sept. 23, Sept. 27, and Sept. 30, all held at 7 p.m. at Hillel.

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