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Episode 52: Birthright Israel marks 18 years of bringing young Jews to Israel

May 2, 2018
In this 2015 photo provided by Birthright Israel, a Birthright Israel group tours Masada, the ancient fortress on a plateau in the desert overlooking the Dead Sea in Israel. (Sylvie Rosokoff via AP)

The number 18 is important in Judaism, connected to the word “chai,” which means life. This year, the organization Birthright Israel, which has taken 600,000 young Jews on free trips to Israel, celebrates its 18th birthday.

In this week’s AP Travel podcast “Get Outta Here,” hosted by Associated Press travel editor Beth Harpaz, we take a look at Birthright Israel in an interview with its CEO, Gidi Mark. We’ll find out who’s eligible to go, where the funding comes from, how the trips deal with a wide variety of opinions on Israeli politics, and why spending a night in the desert is such a highlight for so many participants.

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New episodes of “Get Outta Here!” are published every Wednesday. Host Beth J. Harpaz is travel editor for The Associated Press, a volunteer Big Apple Greeter and a licensed tour guide in her native New York City. She recently completed a quest to visit all 50 states.

Before becoming travel editor, where most of the news -- thank goodness -- is about happy people going on nice vacations, Beth covered politics, disasters and all manner of mayhem for the AP. And not to reveal her age, but she also worked for several newspapers way back in the 20th century and even wrote three books.

She does not own wheeled luggage but instead carries her belongings around the world in an ancient backpack and various tote bags.

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For more trip ideas, travel trends and destination news from Beth and the rest of The Associated Press, follow @AP_Travel on Twitter and check out the travel tab on the AP News mobile app.

For a full list of podcasts, go to the AP podcast page on APNews.com or subscribe on iTunes at http://apple.co/2s2ruHY or Stitcher at https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/associated-press/get-outta-here-the-ap-travel-podcast

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