On free Jewish trips to Israel, love is in the air

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(RNS) When Jodie Arbesman and Dan Williams flew to Tel Aviv with hundreds of other college students 10 years ago, they looked forward to a fun, free trip offered by a new program for Jewish young adults. They had no idea it would also lead to their chuppah, or wedding canopy. “I wasn’t ever planning […]

  • Thanks for the interesting article! As the Coordinator of the Half-Jewish Network, I appreciated Nicole Neroulias mentioning the concerns of adult children of intermarriage.

    First, the Birthright Israel trips are billed within the Jewish community as likely to prevent intermarriage and produce greater affiliation with Israel.

    Yet if Dan Willams’ parents had been prevented from intermarrying, he would not have been born, gone on the trip, and met Jodie Arbesman.

    So there is an inherent tension between Birthright’s welcome to adult children of intermarriage as trip participants — and its widely-publicized goal within the Jewish community of lowering the Jewish intermarriage rate.

    Second, the trips are not entirely honest with the trip participants. Birthright Israel trips typically don’t explain to trip participants — including the half-Jewish people on these trips — that Israel treats interfaith couples and adult children of intermarriage very poorly.

    There are many negative Israeli laws and policies directed against adult children and grandchildren of intermarriage. But the half-Jewish people on these trips are usually not told about Israel’s pervasive discrimination against them, and come back to their home countries and give glowing reports about Israel.

    So my group has mixed feelings about the Birthright Israel trips. For more information about adult children of intermarriage and our perspective on Birthright Israel trips, please visit:


    Robin Margolis

  • This is really a good story about love. When you truly love someone you will really accept everything. Everything that can makes your partner happy. I am really amazed by the guy because it’s not easy to switch religion for your love one. But he made it. It is very inspirational.