More than 300,000 Jewish American young adults have participated in
Birthright Israel since it was launched 15 years ago. Created to “stem the
tide of assimilation,” the program has succeeded far beyond what had
been expected. A growing body of evidence indicates that the program
has enhanced the Jewish identities of its participants and engaged them
with their Jewish identities and Israel. Most remarkable is that the program
has had dramatic effects both for those with and without prior Jewish
education. The lecture will unpack Birthright’s educational strategies and describe how it is
reshaping American Jewish life, by altering our notion of Jewish education and changing the
demography of the American Jewish community.
Leonard Saxe is Klutznick Professor of Contemporary Jewish Studies and Social Policy at Brandeis University where he directs the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies and the Steinhardt Social Research Institute. Professor Saxe is a social psychologist and leads a program of research on Jewish identity, education and socio-demography. He is the author of more than 300 articles and books, including Ten Days of Birthright Israel (with B. Chazan) and How Goodly are Thy Tents (with A. Sales). He has been a Fulbright Professor at the University of Haifa, a science fellow for the United States Congress, and received the American Psychological Association’s Award for Distinguished Contributions in the Public Interest; in 2012, he was awarded the Marshall Sklare prize for his lifetime contributions to the social scientific study of Jewry.
The Milton Kronsberg Lecture Series began in the Fall of 1999 as a result of a generous endowment by the Kronsberg family. In the Fall of 2002, the series became the Milton and Freddie Kronsberg Memorial Lecture Series because of the passing of Freddie Kronsberg obm. The series honors the Kronsberg’s lifelong commitment to Jewish ideas and values.