The gift of a trip to Israel from Birthright Israel is designed to offer an educational peer experience. As such, while the trip is available to young Jews from all over the world and from various backgrounds, there are guidelines for eligibility. Eligibility for the Birthright Israel gift mostly depends on three factors: age, Jewish background, and previous Israel experience.
As a basic guideline: The Birthright Israel gift is open to all Jewish young adults, ages 18 to 26 who have not participated on a peer educational trip since they turned 18 nor lived in Israel past the age of 12.
Applicants must be at least 18 years old, and have already graduated from high school at the time of the trip. Applicants may not be older than 26 to qualify for the gift. However, anyone who is still 26 as of May 1st is still eligible for any trip in the summer season (May-August), even if they will turn 27 by the time of the actual trip. Similarly, anyone who is still 26 as of December 1st is still eligible for any trip in the winter season (December- March), even if they will be 27 by the time of the actual trip.
2. Jewish Background
Eligible individuals are those who identify as Jewish and are recognized as such by their local community or by one of the recognized denominations of Judaism. Applicants must also have at least one Jewish birth parent, or have completed conversion through a recognized Jewish denomination.
3. Previous Israel Experience
If you have already been to Israel with family or on a personal trip, you are still eligible to participate in Birthright Israel! If you have been to Israel on a peer educational program (any program by a Jewish organization for Jewish youth) since you turned 18 years old, you are not eligible. If you have already been to Israel to study or volunteer since age 18, you are not eligible. There are specific exceptions to this however, such as participation in the Maccabi Games, or volunteering for Magen David Adom, which maintain your eligibility. March of the Living participants are eligible to participate if currently 22 years of age or older. Lastly, if you were born in Israel or hold Israeli citizenship, you are still eligible as long as you left Israel before the age of 12.
If you have any questions concerning your eligibility, we encourage you to contact us directly to clarify your particular situation. Email Erica@jffs.org