Eligibility for the Birthright Israel gift is primarily based on these factors:
Eligibility is determined through an online application and subsequent interview. We are proud to embrace a wide spectrum of backgrounds and interests – which is what makes our trip dynamics so special.
Applicants must be between 18 – 26 years old at the time of the trip, and must have already graduated from high school. However, anyone who is 26 as of May 1st is eligible for trips in the forthcoming summer season (i.e. May, June, July or August), even if they have turned 27 by the time of the actual trip. Similarly, for winter trips (i.e. November, December, January, February, March departures), anyone who is still 26 as of December 1st is still eligible for winter season of trips even if they have turned 27 by the time of the actual trip.
NOTE: It is the policy of URJ Kesher to give automatic priority status to applicants who are either 25 or 26 since we know that your eligibility window is closing!
Applicants must have at least one Jewish birth parent or have converted to Judaism in order to qualify for the gift. But don’t worry, having a Jewish background does not mean you need to be religious to qualify or fit in on our trips. In fact, many of the participants on URJ Kesher have more of a cultural connection to Judaism than a traditional one. With URJ Kesher, there is no “right way” to be Jewish, and you certainly don’t need to worry about being “Jewish enough”.
Rules pertaining to prior Israel experience have recently changed. More people than ever are now eligible for a Birthright Israel experience even if you’ve already been to Israel. Here are the details…
- Applicants who traveled to Israel prior to turning 18 on a peer program designed for high school teens shorter than three months in length are eligible. Even if you were 18 at the time of the trip, you are eligible, as long as the trip was designed for high school students.
- Applicants who traveled to Israel since turning 18 on a family trip, a multi-generational trip, or some interfaith/secular experiences are eligible.
- Applicants who traveled to Israel after turning 18 on a peer program designed for college students or young adults are not eligible. Such programs include any study abroad, gap year, yeshiva/seminary, and any other experience under the umbrella of Masa Israel.
- Must have graduated high school
- Have not lived in Israel since the age of 12
- Have not served in the Israeli Army
- Not currently registered in a Jewish Studies program in any institute of higher learning such as Jewish Teacher Training program, Jewish Studies program, Rabbinic program, Yeshiva/Seminary, Jewish Communal Service program, etc.
- Must have a current US or Canadian address
Unsure about Your Eligibility?
Many applicants wonder if they are Jewish enough for a trip. Others are concerned about coming from an interfaith household. Some feel that they’ve just lost their connection. If you are unsure if you are eligible for a trip, we encourage you to contact us by email ([email protected]) or by phone (202-370-4026) in advance and ask – we’d be glad to clarify your status and help get your application underway.
Respecting the Eligibility Rules
URJ Kesher takes the eligibility rules of the Birthright Israel gift extremely seriously. We expect you to do the same. In large part, we rely on your honesty and personal integrity to ensure that you are actually eligible. Please understand that lying to get on a trip is no different than theft and will be dealt with accordingly.