For many American Jews, Birthright Israel has become almost a rite of passage. The program gives Jews between the ages of 18 to 26 a free 10-day trip to Israel, with obligatory stops at the Western Wall and the Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem. The goal of the organization is lofty—connecting the Jewish diaspora with their spiritual homeland—and often clashes with the reality of a bunch of teenagers and 20-somethings partying their way across Israel.
So, what do Israelis think about some 20 thousand Jews, the majority of them American, shuttling across the country binging on Israeli patriotism and Maccabee beer?
Now we have some idea. Israel’s most popular sketch comedy show, “Eretz Nehederet,” which translates as “A Wonderful Country,” skewered the program on its season premier this week.
You can watch the clip here, by skipping ahead to 39:50. It’s mostly in Hebrew, but still funny even if you don’t speak the language.
Edo Konrad, a reporter with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, wrote a piece on the sketch, where he helpfully translates one of the gags:
“In one of the clip’s highlights, the tour guide takes the group on a quick emotional rollercoaster ride. While in transit, he announces a potential trip [to] the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, to which the group cheers unexpectedly. The tour guide manages to calm the participants using a cynical and melancholy explanation of the museum’s significance to worldwide Jewry:
Tour guide: “The Yad Vashem Museum is based on the Holocaust [plays somber music]. We will give you time to be sad, and at the same time you should all send text messages to your parents, urging them to continue donating money to the State of Israel…”
Participants: [Collective bleak nod]
Tour guide: “…so that there won’t be [a] second Holocaust, since the sequel is always worse than the original.”
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