Taglit-Birthright Israel believes that it is the birthright of every Jewish person to visit Israel. That is why we are committed to ensuring that young Jewish adults with physical or developmental challenges are offered an opportunity to personally explore their Jewish heritage and identity in Israel with their peers.

To date, the gift of Birthright Israel has been offered to more than 1,000 individuals with a range of special needs. Participants can join or be integrated into general trips. Past programs have served young Jewish adults with:

• Vision or hearing impairments
• High-functioning developmental/cognitive disabilities including autism
• Mobility challenges including those who use wheelchairs
• IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease), including Crohn’s disease and colitis

The itineraries for these trips include all core components of the Birthright Israel experience, and are designed to meet the particular needs of the participants. Outdoor adventure is a core part of forming connections to the land of Israel, and trip organizers ensure participation for everyone in activities like camel rides, floating in the Dead Sea, visiting the top of Masada, and rappelling.

Additionally, special needs trips can connect participants with Israeli peers who share the same challenges, through the Mifgash or “Encounter” program.

For many young Jewish adults with special needs, Birthright Israel offers what may be their first opportunity to travel with peers and connect with their Jewish heritage in a safe and welcoming environment. These specialized trips require additional resources, with fewer participants per bus, a higher staff-to-participant ratio, and special logistical arrangements.

The support of our donors helps make this extraordinary opportunity available for more young adults. The cost to sponsor a special needs bus starts at $60,000.* Donors may also contribute any amount towards a general fund to supplement costs for special needs participation.

*Thanks to a generous donor, a 2013 Challenge Grant will double the value of gifts from any new donor in 2013; for donors who made gifts prior to 2013, their 2013 gift is eligible to the extent that it exceeds the lesser of their 2011 or 2012 gift.

For more information about special-needs trips, contact Scott Friedman at scott.friedman@birthrightisrael.org.

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