Birthright cancels remaining winter trips to Israel due to coronavirus

This is the first time since its inception in 1999 that Birthright Israel has canceled trips to the Jewish State.

By Aaron Sull, World Israel News

Birthright Israel, an organization that gives young Jewish people the opportunity to experience the sights and sounds of the Holy Land, said Sunday it canceled its remaining trips scheduled for the winter season as a preventative measure against the coronavirus.

“For the past 20 years, the safety and well-being of our more than 750,000 participants have remained our top priority,” a spokeswoman for the organization said.

As of now, the decision will only affect roughly 500 participants who signed up for the winter programs and will not affect those signed up for the summer trips.

“We look forward to restarting trips for the summer season in May and will be staying in close contact with the Israel Ministry of Health,” the spokeswoman said. “Any changes to our program will be communicated with our trip organizers and participants on a timely basis.”

This is the first time since its inception in 1999 that Birthright Israel has been forced to cancel trips to the Jewish State.

Every year approximately 40,000 Jews who have never been to the Holy Land take advantage of Birthright Israel’s free 10-day trip.

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Masa, a similar organization that brings in roughly 12,000 individuals to Israel annually for longer education and volunteer programs, has not yet announced any cancellations.

“We are aware of the situation and constantly monitoring any changes in regulations put out by the government,” Masa said in a  statement.

As of Sunday, 39 Israelis have been diagnosed with the disease and roughly 20,000 Israelis are reported to be in self-quarantine.

The Ministry of Health expanded the list of countries from which non-residents are now not allowed into Israel and that now includes: Spain, France, Austria, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Mainland China, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea and others.