Time is running out for students wanting to sign up for Talgit-Birthright Israel: Hillel Trip.
Registration is expected to close in a matter of days, and a record-breaking number of students have already signed up.
This makes IU Hillel the top recruiter for Talgit-Birthright Israel in the nation so far, trip organizer Ally Turkheimer said.
“I’ve never had so many applicants before,” Turkheimer said. “It’s beautiful and amazing and brings me so much happiness.”
So far this session, 127 applicants have applied for the trips either this summer or later.
The summer trip will take place at the end of May, but the official dates haven’t been
Turkheimer said she believes a possible reason for the spike in interest is due to the change in eligibility made by Talgit-Birthright Israel. Previously, the trip was open only to those who had never been to Israel before. Talgit-Birthright Israel changed this in
Now the trips are open to Jewish students who haven’t been to Israel since their 18th birthday. Students who have ever visited Israel for more than three months since age
12 are still not eligible.
“From what I understand, the reason they open up the trips is to allow students to experience Israel again as adults and connect back to their Judaism,” Turkheimer said.
Turkheimer said IU Hillel probably won’t know when registration will end until 24 hours before, if they’re lucky.
“It closes because you can’t have people keep applying,” Turkheimer said. “We need time to readjust the market and rebrand. There are always going to be people who are interested in signing up.”
IU Hillel is the only provider on campus that allows students to schedule their trip anytime within the next two years, Turkheimer said.
Rabbi Sue Shifron of Hillel said she believes it will be the best experience of their lives.
She said the record numbers signing up for the trips are a testament to the religion’s presence at the University.
“It shows what a strong Jewish community we have here on campus,” Shifron said.
Shifron also said she hopes students will sign up even if they aren’t connected to IU Hillel.
“Even if you don’t know anybody, it’s a great opportunity to make friends from this school that you can come back with,” Shifron said.
Freshman Jackie Gallagher signed up for the trip last semester and said she’s hoping she gets into this May’s trip to Israel.
“Even though it’s only a 10-day trip, we really will get to see all the important things,” Gallagher said. “The fact I get to go with a bunch of friends and people from school makes it great, too.”
Not only is it a chance to travel for free and be with friends, but it also has deeper meaning for students, she said.
“I think it’s important for Jews to visit Israel because it’s the homeland where so much culture and history is,” Gallagher said. “As you get older, you may start away from what your parents taught you and what you did religiously at home. This helps you get reconnected and stay on the Judaism path.”
To learn more about the trips and registration, Turkheimer said she encourages students to either call or visit Hillel.
Students wanting to sign up for the Talgit-Birthright Israel: Hillel-Indiana University trip should visit freeisraeltrip.org.
“It’s going to be an amazing experience,” Gallagher said. “Everyone should try to do it if they can.”
Follow reporter Suzanne Grossman on Twitter @suzannepaige6.