Organization offers free trips to Israel for Jewish FAU students

With a Jewish population that’s ranked 31st nationally, FAU sends students to Israel via Birthright Israel.


The Hillel of Broward and Palm Beach on their trip to Israel, accompanied by a number of FAU students. Photo courtesy of Birthright Israel.

Tucker Berardi, Contributing Writer

Traveling to a different country can feel strange — but it helps when it’s free.

The non-profit organization, Birthright Israel, provides free educational trips to Israel for Jewish students from all over the world.

With FAU ranking 31st in the nation regarding Jewish student population — and fifth highest in Florida alone — it may come as no surprise to many that its Hillel center has sent the second largest group of students to Israel using the organization.

“I got to experience my religion and culture so much more. The trip was pretty much amazing,” said Hayley Snyder, a sophomore political science major who went on a Birthright trip to Israel during the summer of 2015. “All of my friends had positive adventures on their trips.”

In 2016, trips will run from May through September and include a variety of trip-length options and topics of focus. Registration for Birthright Israel opened Feb. 1 on a first-come, first-serve basis — registration closes when all spots are filled up.

Menachem Schandelson, a sophomore, intern and recruiter for the Hillel of Broward and Palm Beach, attended a Birthright Israel trip during fall 2014 and said that it helped him to “harbor a new love for Israel. Being able to see it, to be there and experience it can get a different perspective, it is one thousand percent beneficial to you.”

Previously, Birthright Israel offered a standard 10-day trip. Now there are more options, including a seven-day abridged trip and a 13-day option called Birthright Israel Academic.

This option offers students the opportunity to earn up to three college credits through three different program focuses: Global warming and the environment, the challenge of terrorism and evolving security policy in Israel and the Middle East.

According to Schandelson, the trip offered him a spectrum of content — from visiting a Holocaust museum to an active graveyard for soldiers to a mountaintop olive garden — and this gave him a good representation of both the “highs and lows” of Jewish history and culture.

“[Birthright Israel] is a once in a lifetime experience that a lot of people don’t understand,” said Schandelson.

Birthright Israel trips are free to all Jewish people from ages 18 to 26 — excluding BIA, which requires tuition.

For information on how to register, you can contact Daniel Glovsky of the Hillel of Broward and Palm Beach via email at [email protected], or visit the Birthright Israel website,

Tucker Berardi is a staff writer for the University Press. To contact him regarding this or other stories, he can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter.