Birthright Israel has established basic guidelines governing eligibility for the Gift.
In a nutshell, you’re eligible for if you’re between the ages of 18-32, of Jewish descent with at least one Jewish parent (or you converted). You also must have graduated high school by the time of the trip, and you can’t be attending a full-time Jewish studies program. Finally, this must be your first Jewish peer trip to Israel since turning 18. Explore additional eligibility below.
Ages 18-26 and 27-32
Ages 18-26 | Applicants must be between ages 18-26 years old at the time of the trip and must have already graduated from high school. However, anyone who is 26 as of May 1st is eligible for trips in the forthcoming summer season (i.e. May, June, July or August), even if they have turned 27 by the time of the actual trip. Similarly, for winter trips (i.e. November, December, January, February, March departures), anyone who is still 26 as of December 1st is still eligible for the winter season of trips even if they have turned 27 by the time of the actual trip. Some very limited exceptions to this rule may be considered for people who recently aged out of the eligibility limits, depending on the circumstances. Contact us for additional details.
NOTE: It is the policy of Israel Outdoors to give automatic priority status to applicants who are 26 since we know that your eligibility window is closing soon!
Ages 27-32 | We now offer a limited number of trips for ages 27-32. Since very few of these trips are offered, we highly recommend not waiting until you’re 27!
Applicants must have at least one Jewish birth parent or have converted to Judaism. But don’t worry – having a Jewish background does not mean you need to be religious to qualify or to fit in on our trips. In fact, many of the participants on Israel Outdoors have more of a cultural connection to Judaism than a traditional one.
NOTE: With Israel Outdoors, there is no “right way” to be Jewish, and you certainly don’t need to worry about being “Jewish enough.” Our groups are comprised of people across the Jewish identity spectrum, and our approach is to be entirely welcoming.
Prior Israel Experience
Rules pertaining to prior Israel experience have recently changed. More people than ever are now eligible for a Birthright Israel experience:
Applicants who traveled to Israel prior to turning 18 on a peer program designed for high school teens shorter than three months in length are eligible. Even if you were 18 at the time of the trip, you are eligible, as long as the trip was designed for high school students.
Applicants who traveled to Israel since turning 18 on a family trip, a multi-generational trip, or some interfaith/secular experiences are eligible.
Applicants who traveled to Israel after turning 18 on programs designed for college students or young adults are not eligible. Programs include university, study abroad, gap year, yeshiva/seminary, internship and any other experience under the umbrella of Onward Israel or Masa Israel.
Applicants who participated in most high school in Israel programs for up to four months are eligible. Check with Israel Outdoors to find out about your program.
Must have graduated high school by the time of the trip
Have not lived in Israel for over three months since the age of 12
Have not served in the Israeli Army
Not currently registered in a Jewish Studies program in any institute of higher learning such as Jewish Teacher Training program, Jewish Studies program, Rabbinic program, Yeshiva/Seminary, Jewish Communal Service program, etc.
Must have a current US address — which includes being a resident, citizen or full-time student in the US. However, applicants living in Canada are eligible to take part in any Specialty Trip or any Israel By Bike trip departing from the United States.
Many wonder if they are “Jewish enough” to be eligible for this trip. If you are curious, we encourage you to contact us by email or by phone (202) 537-0006 in advance to talk it out. We’d be glad to clarify your status and help get your application underway.
Honoring the eligibility rules
The Birthright Israel eligibility rules are a serious matter. Your honesty and personal integrity is expected to ensure your eligibility for the gift. Lying or otherwise misrepresenting your background to get on a trip is no different morally or legally than stealing approximately $3,500, and it will be treated accordingly.
You’ll be taken to the Birthright Israel website to register. Remember to select “Israel Outdoors” as your trip organizer!