Wednesday, September 29, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 27

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Hillel to offer 3,000 free trips to Israel

'Birthright Israel' to help first-time visitors

By Talia Klein
Daily Cougar Staff 

Hillel, the international foundation for Jewish campus life, announced it will offer 3,000 free trips to Israel during this year's winter break.

The goal of the sponsoring organization, Birthright Israel, is to provide a free, first peer-group trip to Israel as a birthright to every Jew.

The free trip will include airfare from one of the designated airway cities -- Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Miami or Baltimore -- as well as accommodations at three or four-star guest houses and hotels and all meals. Applicants must pay a $250 deposit that is fully refundable upon completion of the trip.

Hillel is the foundation of Jewish community on campus. Created in 1923 at the University of Illinois, it is today the largest Jewish campus organization in the world with foundations and affiliates worldwide, including Australia, South America, and Europe. In addition to the trip to Israel, Hillel presents social, educational, cultural, and religious programming on more than 400 campuses in the United States.

The Birthright trip is offered to any Jewish student ages 18 to 26 who has never been on an organized trip to Israel.

Students who have been on similar visits to Israel said the trips are valuable experiences.

"I went on an organized trip to Israel last winter, and I came to the realization that the world is a lot bigger than Texas," said Ishai Crane, a junior psychology student at UH. "Israel is not only a nation, but a cultural and religious homeland as well."

Once in Israel, participants will explore Jerusalem, float in the Dead Sea, climb Massada, an ancient Jewish fortress overlooking the desert, experience the night life of Tel Aviv, meet with Israeli political leaders and more.

"Israel has a wide variety of sights, sounds, and tastes that I've only begun to experience," Crane said. "I encourage all students of any origin to travel abroad. Experience what the world has to offer you. Find a trip that fits your style and go with it."

For further information on the Birthright Israel trip, contact Julie Gutman at (713) 743-5396, e-mail her at, or visit the Israel 2000 Web site,

Applications are available on the Web site. The deadline for submission is Thursday.

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