Philanthropist Bob Lappin’s op-ed (Journal, October 19) presents a strong case in favor of Birthright Israel lowering the age of eligibility from its current level of 18-26 to 16. He argues persuasively that the experience of the North Shore’s Youth to Israel program (Y2I), which Mr. Lappin created more than 40 years ago and funded himself until recently, has demonstrated the multiple advantages of the lower age threshold on forging Jewish identity and pride in teenagers and in greatly raising the odds that they will bring their own children up Jewish.
Another benefit: Reducing Birthright’s minimum age requirement will allow pre-college teens to learn about rising campus anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment, providing them with information and motivation to combat these movements when they encounter them in college.
As parents of two former teenagers for whom the Y2I experience was transformative – reinforcing their Jewish identity and strengthening their character – we heartily endorse this recommendation. Just imagine the impact on Jewish communities coast-to-coast – not to mention Jewish survival – if every Jewish teenager in the United States had the opportunity to experience Israel the way more than 2,500 North Shore alumnae of the Lappin program have!
Mark and Judy Arnold, Gloucester