Birthright budget cut

The JTA reports, “Israel is reducing its allocation to the birthright israel program to a symbolic sum. The cut in the state’s 2004 draft budget would bring the figure down to $500,000 for 2004 from its original commitment of $14 million for five consecutive years. However, Israel will restore its full financial commitment to birthright in 2005, said Israel’s minister of Jerusalem and diaspora affairs, Natan Sharansky, who was involved in 11th-hour negotiations on the matter with Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and American philanthropist Michael Steinhardt. Funding for the program, which provides free trips to Israel for Jewish youths aged 18 to 26 who have never before visited Israel on an organized tour, is shared equally by Israel’s government; the United Jewish Communities, the umbrella federation group; and private philanthropists, as well as other Jewish groups.”

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