The Taglit-Birthright Israel program recently changed its policy so that more Jewish students can be eligible.
Birthright is an international program that sponsors free 10-day trips to Israel for Jewish students between the ages of 18 and 26.
The old policy of the organization stated that men and women who had visited Israel previously with a peer or educational group were not eligible for the trip.
With the changes that are being made, now these people are now eligible for the free trip.
According to the program’s website, since its creation in 1999, Birthright has sent over 350,000 Jewish young adults to Israel.
The site also states the participants come from 64 countries, all 50 U.S. states and Canadian provinces and from nearly 1,000 North American colleges and universities.
Senior Ben Witkoff traveled on a Birthright trip this past winter break and approves of the changes made to the program.
“Before they were 18, it’s possible that some of the info was withheld because of their age but now that they are adults, the things they can see and hear give the experience a more realistic value,” he said.
This is exciting news for sophomore Emma Drongowski who is now eligible for the Birthright trip. She is the current president of Hillel, the Jewish student organization on campus.
According to the Hillel website, Hillel is the largest Jewish student organization in the world. It is located in 550 colleges and universities.
Drongowski plans to apply for the trip in December.
Drongowski said a lot of Jewish students visit Israel during summer camps when they are younger, and also with high school groups.
Senior Zoey Kramer went on a Birthright trip last December and encourages more to apply.
“This trip was nice because I was surrounded by other students my age who understand the Jewish tradition, unlike at school,” she said.
Jewish life on campus
According to Jessica Shimberg, the advisor for Hillel and part-time staff in the Chaplain’s office, there are only 47 students who self-identify as Jewish on campus.
Shimberg hopes to work with the Office of Admissions to boost Jewish recruitment to the university.
“There are a lot of things that OWU does that are important aspects in the Jewish communities such as travel-learning, social justice and service learning,” she said.
Drongowski said not very many Jewish students participate in Hillel on campus.
“It’s the students that are involved with Hillel that will want to go on a Birthright trip,” she said.