Keith Dvorchik and I recently wrote of our dissenting opinions regarding the efficacy of Taglit-Birthright Israel for JTNews (“Why Birthright Israel is hafuch,” Rabbi’s Turn, Dec. 13; “Why Birthright makes a difference,” Dec. 20). Truly this is “an argument for the sake of heaven,” as we both care deeply about the Jewish community. I respect Mr. Dvorchik’s experience leading Birthright groups and his service to the Hillel world, and firmly believe that his background and qualifications make him the ideal president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle. My greatest joy on this issue would be to be proven wrong, for it would mean more people engaging with Jewish life and drawing closer to Torah, and I am so thankful for the number of individuals that have had positive experiences through their trips.
Both articles cite the same research, a 2012 study by Brandeis University’s Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies. I would encourage all readers to peruse this important study and to evaluate its findings for themselves: bit.ly/JsQfpG. As Taglit-Birthright Israel reaches expenditures of $1,000,000,000, Mr. Dvorchik and I disagree on the cost/benefit analysis. What do you think?