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April 10, 2018

Answered: Which trip organizer should I choose?

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There isn’t one “Birthright Israel trip.” Instead, there are almost 600 trip options from 9 trip organizers, affiliated with the official Birthright Israel organization. The one you choose makes a big difference on the type of trip you go on and the experience you have in Israel (and traveling over there).

Where to start

BirthrightGuru actually recommends not starting with the trip organizer — but don’t skip over reviewing completely. We just think that the best way to choose a trip from the hundreds of options is to narrow down the selection with a few basic preferences, see what organizers match up with the smaller pool of choices, and then review them to make a match. You’ll likely find that if you pick a trip that works for you the organizer will be great! There are very few “red flags” with the organizers overall. And if you pick something specialized, like a trip with your campus, community, or personal passion, you’re likely to jive with the organizer too. That said, there are some that have a religious or academic slant, which might not be your top pick, and you might decide it’s worth getting to a different departure city or even traveling without your college friends to try something different.

If you heard about a great organizer from a friend or family member and want to know more, scroll down to see our guide to Birthright Trip organizers. And if you’re looking for even more info on how to choose the best trip (not just organizer), head over to our Ultimate Guide to Birthright Israel trips.

Trip Organizers

Amazing Israel

Amazing Israel is a seasoned trip organizer and tour company based in Jerusalem. Their focus is on memorable Birthright trips, and they bring their expertise from planning tons of tours in Israel for B’nai Mitzvot, family trips, conferences, and more. Their claim is for “out of the box” Israel trips, but their itinerary is typical of the standard version. Not a problem, but don’t get sold by the marketing only. In reality, they’re a professional tour operator at heart, and should be trusted to provide an excellent trip. Amazing Israel is not affiliated with any religious movement and is vocal about accepting participants from all backgrounds on their trips.

Facebook Reviews: 4.8/5 stars (44 reviews)

Trips:
Classic (10-day and 7-day)
Outdoors/Adventures
Entertainment Professionals
Urban and Culture

Departures: Boston, Dallas, LA, NYC

Ezra World

Ezra World has roots in a youth movement focused on connecting Russian Jews to their community, and their Birthright trips grew out of the organization as it expanded to new avenues of connecting Jews to their heritage. Now, they points out especially that their staff are all Americans who made the choice to come to Israel, who are now immersed in Israeli society, and who attended the best Israeli tour guide educational programs. Technically, Ezra world is affiliated with the Orthodox Judaism movement, so expect more than the average amount of time spent on religious connections to Israel and Zionism, though the organizers clearly point out that they are open to all participants. Ezra World also offers speciality trips, including a foodie-focused itinerary and a trip organized around world-renowned startups and entrepreneurship in Israel.

Facebook Reviews: 4.3/5 stars (43 reviews)

Trips:
Classic (10-day and 7-day)
Outdoors/Adventures
Foodie
Startups and Entrepreneurship
Single Gender

Departures: Austin, LA, New York

Hillel

Hillel is a campus-based organization, so their focus is on college students and university-specific trips. If you want to travel with friends from school, there’s a good chance that Hillel is planning a trip leaving from campus (and departing from a nearby big city, unless you’re in the midwest!). They are not limited to college campuses, and offers speciality trips and trips for all ages like the other trip organizers, including one of the most adventurous trips in the entire program: Israel Underwater, which takes participants SCUBA diving in Israel with Israeli Navy divers! Hillel is non-denominational, but definitely a religious organization. They also have a reputation during classic and campus trips for taking more time for deep conversations and learning, rather than focusing on adventure or experiencing the culture. Mostly expect a typical itinerary, with that slight extra focus on religion and activities designed (and sometimes feeling forced) to create meaningful connections among participants and to Israel, in addition to the speciality trips offered by this organizer.

Facebook Reviews: Not reviewed

Trips:
Classic (10-day and 7-day)
Campuses (many!)
Underwater: SCUBA dive with Israel Navy divers
LGBT Pride Trip to Tel Aviv Pride Parade
Yoga and Mindfulness
American Sign Language

Departures: Atlanta, LA, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Diego

Israel Outdoors

Israel Outdoors lives up to their name, but also goes so far beyond. On an Israel Outdoors Israel by Foot or Israel by Bike trip, expect more time outdoors, breaking a sweat. They also offer many speciality trips, including multiple extended study abroad, cultural, campus, and accessible trips (the most offerings of any provider). They even offer a one-of-a-kind USA-Argentina joint trip. And all of these trips are offered with departures from the most cities out of all trip organizers. Israel Outdoors is an experienced Israeli tour operator based in Tel Aviv (with offices in Washington, DC), and have earned a reputation for participants who want to travel to Israel and take extra advantage of the incredible natural beauty of the country and the spirit of adventure. As expected, they’re non-denominational and open to participants from all backgrounds.

Facebook Reviews: 4.7/5 stars (98 reviews)

Trips:
Classic (10-day and 7-day)
Campus
Study abroad extended trips (diplomacy, archeology)
Outdoors/Adventures (biking and hiking)
Culture (film and food)
Mindfulness and Spirituality
LGBTQ
Special Needs
USA-Argentina Joint Trip
Social Justice

Departures: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, LA, Miami, NYC, San Diego, San Francisco, Washington

Mayanot Israel

Mayanot is a unique trip organizer — they’re affiliated with both the academically-oriented Mayanot Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem and the religiously-inclined Chabad. This overlap is definitely their niche: Expect a wonderful tour of Israel on your Birthright trip, with a consistent theme of deep learning and a spiritual connections to the land and to Judaism. You’ll definitely see this priority in their choice of staff. In addition to traditional Israeli tour guides, Mayanot Israel Birthright trips include Jewish educators and rabbis. They’re affiliated with the Orthodox Judaism movement, but open to all participants. This organizer does not offer the most departure options, but they cover the east coast, west coast, and midwest, making their distinctive portfolio of trips very logistically accessible to all those interested.

Facebook Reviews: 4.4/5 stars (116 reviews)

Trips:
Classic (10-day and 7-day)
Campus
Extended Study Abroad (counter-terrorism and conflict resolution)
Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Outdoors/Adventures
Vegans and Vegetarians / Animal Rights
Single Gender

Departures: Chicago, LA, Miami, NYC

OU Israel Free Spirit

OU Israel Free Spirit is an offshoot of the Orthodox Union, which is the largest Kosher certification organization in the world. But don’t think that all of their trips are about traditional religion and prayer. In fact, Israel Free Spirit is another trip organizer vocal about their acceptance of all participants from all Jewish affiliations, with an extremely diverse selection of trips (with the only downside of only leaving from 3 departure cities). This trip organizer is the only one to offer a trip specifically built for those young adult Jews recovering from substance addiction. In addition to providing a sensitive completely sober experience for the entire trip, this itinerary goes deeper and offers participants a chance to visit and learn about treatment centers in Israel and engage with Israelis going through the same experience. It’s a special opportunity for those who may otherwise feel excluded from Birthright Israel trips. Israel Free Spirit also offers special medical needs trips with special staff, equipment, and itineraries. Fitting with their name, there is also a Kabbalah and Mysticism trip, offering a noteworthy experience for those seeking a spiritual connection to Israel outside of the traditional religions. And if a traditional religious experience is more your speed, there are trips for Modern Orthodox men and women (single gender). Or if your religious experience was connected to the JSU/NCSY youth group movements, they offer an alumni trip to reconnect with friends! Not to be left out, they too offer an adventurous trip and an itinerary focused on arts and culture. Don’t let the name fool you, and be sure to check out OU Israel Free Spirit that may be a great match for you.

Facebook Reviews: Not reviewed

Trips:
Classic (10-day and 7-day)
Renewal and Recovery
Medical Special Needs
Outdoors/Adventures
Modern Orthodox Single Gender
Kabbalah and Mysticism
JSU/NCSY Alumni
Arts, Music, and Entertainment

Departures: LA, Miami, NYC

Sachlav Israel on the House

Sachlav Israel on the House is a straightforward, unaffiliated, Israel-based Birthright trip organizer. They fit in a sweet spot for adventurous travelers who shy away from extreme adventure trips, but are looking for a really exciting itinerary. Sachlav Israel on the House has clearly thought through their trip timing, logistics, and plans very well to deliver wonderful experiences. They don’t offer a ton of specialized trips, but they do offer some unique options, including their own take on the LGBTQ experience and a special all-women Modern Orthodox trip with all female IDF soldiers, plus an amped-up adventure option for those looking for more hiking, rappelling, and camping. They also only leave from 3 cities on the coasts, so they might not be the most logistically friendly for all participants.

Facebook Reviews: 4.7/5 stars (106 reviews)

Trips:
Classic (10-day and 7-day)
Outdoors/Adventures
LGBTQ
All Women Modern Orthodox

Departures: LA, Miami, NYC

Shorashim

Shorashim offers the unique opportunity to spend the entire trip with Israelis by your side. They’re also known for creating top-rated itineraries across a number of speciality trip options and their classic itinerary. Combine their reputation, trip options, and the second highest number of departure cities, and you’re looking at a solid trip organizer for many trip participants for Birthright Israel! Shorashim is another provider to offer extended study abroad options, in this case, focused on Israeli Multiculturalism. Definitely a great option to enhance your learning and overall experience in Israel (plus pickup a few college credits, if useful). They also offer trips focused on LGBTQ with a trip to Tel Aviv Pride Parade, food, outdoor adventures, spiritual self-discovery, and regional industries (including DC politics and Wall Street finance).

Facebook Reviews: 4.7/5 stars (57 reviews)

Trips:
Classic (10-day and 7-day)
Outdoors/Adventures
LGBTQ
Foodie
Culture
Spiritual Self-Discovery
Regional/Industry Communities (DC politics, Wall Street finance)

Boston, Chicago, LA, Miami New York Washington

Yael Adventures

Yael Adventures has the distinction of being a tour company not just for Israel but for Israelis. In fact, their claim to fame is that they are one of the largest tour companies in Israel for Israeli schools and other institutions. This experience can serve them well when planning Birthright Israel trips, especially if you’re looking for a classic itinerary (they only offer a few specialized trips) with the knowledge that they are not catering to only to the basic touristy spots, but rather to travelers who want a true Israel travel experience with some lesser-known spots. This organizer offers only one specialized trip, designed for those looking for even more adventure on the itinerary (plus the same extreme adventure for women only). They also don’t offer many departure cities.

Facebook Reviews: 4.3/5 stars (38 reviews)

Trips:
Classic (10-day and 7-day)
Outdoor/Adventures
Outdoor/Adventures (women-only)

Departure cities: LA, Miami, NYC

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