Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies

Birthright Israel Research

Since Birthright Israel's inception in 1999, CMJS has been conducting rigorous research to evaluate the program and learn about its impact on Jewish young adults. CMJS’s research program on Birthright Israel includes evaluation studies that track Birthright’s short- and long-term impact on its participants using a quasi-experimental research design that compares participants to similar young adults who applied to the program and did not go. The program of research also includes the Jewish Futures Project that is following a panel of several thousand individuals who applied to go on Birthright between 2001 and 2009.

The study of Birthright Israel has focused primarily on North American participants, but several studies have been conducted of participants in other countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Germany.

CMJS research about Birthright Israel has been published in reports, books and journal articles.

About Birthright Israel: Established by a group of Jewish philanthropists, in collaboration with the Israeli government and Jewish communities around the world, Birthright Israel aims to encourage Jewish continuity, foster engagement with Israel, and forge a new relationship among Jews around the world. Since its inception in 1999, over 750,000 young Jewish adults from more than 50 countries participated in the program’s free, 10-day educational tours of Israel.

Recent Publications

Birthright Israel Onward Evaluation report cover

April 2024

Birthright Israel Onward (Onward) offers Jewish young adults an opportunity to participate in a fellowship or to gain professional experience working in an Israeli organization while deepening their connection to Israel, their Jewish identity, and their Jewish peers. Designed as a second experience in Israel, Onward is experienced either as an extension program to a ten-day Birthright trip (“Birthright & Onward”) or as a stand-alone program (“Onward Only”) primarily for individuals who have already been to Israel on Birthright or under other auspices.

This report summarizes findings from the pre-trip and post-trip surveys of summer 2023 applicants to Onward and Birthright Israel. The evaluation focused primarily on the educational experience of the programs and their impact on participants’ Jewish and Israel connections.

Birthright Impact Summer 2023 report cover

April 2024

In the summer of 2023, over 10,000 Jewish young adults from the United States participated in a Birthright Israel trip. For 10 days they experienced and learned about Israel by visiting historical and cultural sites, hearing about Israel’s history as well as contemporary life, and exchanging views with their Israeli peers (many in the IDF). These trips took place before Hamas’ brutal October 7 attack and the start of the Israel-Hamas war. In the wake of October 7th, and the intense animosity directed at Israel around the world, recent Birthright alums encountered a new reality. How did these events influence how they understood their personal experiences in Israel? How did their Birthright experience impact how they thought and felt about the war and Israel’s actions? How did participation in Birthright impact Jewish identity and Jewish connections in a world of heightened antisemitism, where “being Jewish” meant something very different than it did in the summer of 2023?

Birthright Summer 2022 report cover

May 2023

This report documents the impact of Birthright Israel on the US Jewish young adults who participated in summer 2022 Birthright Israel trips. Given that the trips took place in the context of rising political tensions in the United States and Israel, the report examines whether these dynamics hindered trip participants from developing a strong emotional connection to Israel. Did the program help participants understand the complex political situation in Israel? Did the trip influence how participants see Israel’s political and security situation? Did the program change how participants relate to groups involved in Israel-related activism?