Three Chabad Rabbis from Delaware, Illinois, and California, hold the record for the most Taglit-Birthright trips led, with an astonishing 100+ trips between them. The rabbis, who are all in their 50’s, describe the trips as energizing experiences and have no plans of slowing down.
Throughout the years, more than 200 Chabad on Campus rabbis and rebbetzins have participated in the trips to the Jewish state. To date, more than 40,000 students from over 500 campuses that Chabad services have taken part in the Taglit-Birthright Israel: Mayanot programs.
Rabbi Eliezer Sneiderman, 50, director of Chabad on Campus at the University of Delaware in Newark, Del., has led 28 Birthright IsraelMayanot groups. He also led one IsraeLinks trip, Chabad on Campus’s more intensive Birthright follow-up trip.
When asked how he motivates himself to lead so many groups, Rabbi Sneiderman insists that the students inspire him. He believes that Birthright offers the students the unique opportunity to reflect on who they are and who they want to be as Jews, as opposed to thinking about where they want to go or what else they want to do.
Rabbi Dov Hillel Klein, 55, has led 32 Taglit-Birthright Israel trips, a record among Jewish campus professionals. For 29 years, he has served as executive director of the Tannenbaum Chabad on Campus center for students at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, and each trip, he says, feels like his first.
Since Birthright’s founding, Klein has brought more than 1,300 students and young adults to the Jewish state under the auspices of Taglit-Birthright Israel: Mayanot. For its campus-based trips, Mayanot partners with the Chabad on Campus International Foundation to bring thousands of students to Israel each year.
“These trips change people’s lives,” stressed Klein. “On my 30th trip, I bumped into a young man who is now living in Israel. He was on my very first trip. After that, he joined the army, served three years, made Aliyah, married a Jewish girl, and lives here.”
Rabbi Yonason Denebeim, 59, is the director of Chabad of Palm Springs and has lost count of exactly how many trips he has led. “But I know it’s more than 40,” he says. Since he first started leading Taglit-Birthright trips in 1999, he has averaged three trips per year with his record for one year being 5 trips.
In the fifteen years since Birthright began, more than 500,000 young adults have toured Israel with Taglit-Birthright, contributing some $825 million to Israel’s economy, according to the organization.