Birthright Israel anticipates winter registration rush

The Jewish Federation of St. Louis has announced that demand for Birthright trips is at an all time high. With winter registration just around the corner, applicants are encouraged to plan early in order to secure their spot. Online registration for winter trips opens on Tues., Sept. 13 at 12 p.m. for past applicants and Sept. 14 at 10 a.m. for first time applicants.

In the first hour of registration, 10,000 are expected to apply – a number that jumps to 20,000 within 24 hours, according to eJewish Philanthropy. In 2010 alone, 30,000 18 to 26 year olds traveled to Israel on Birthright, including 295 St. Louisans, prompting an 18 percent increase in Jewish Federation of St. Louis’ annual targeted donation to the cause. Each spot on the free 10-day group educational trip is worth approximately $3,000, and includes travel, hotel stays, tours, and most meals.

Recent Indiana University graduate Sarah Cort went on Birthright during her sophomore year. Cort described the trip as “a series of one-of-a-kind experiences.” The winter break trip included a New Year’s Eve bonfire in the Negev, a morning camel ride on New Year’s Day, a swim in the Dead Sea, and visits to the Kotel, Yad Vashem, Eilat, the Galilee, and a stay in a Kibbutz. Cort plans to travel to Israel for 10 months in August on a service trip through Jewish Federation. She credits Birthright with her strong desire to return.

Visit www.birthrightisrael.org for registration information.

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