DEAR HARRIETTE: My synagogue does a biannual trip to Israel each year. Our senior rabbi and the director of the Hebrew school take about 10 high school students with them to Israel. My daughter has recently said that she wants to go on this trip because she thinks it will be a good experience. Young Jewish adults are eligible to go on Birthright, a free trip to Israel when they are 18 to 24 years old. I would much rather my daughter go on Birthright instead of with our synagogue because she will be older, and the price is much better. The trip that our synagogue is taking is more than $2,000, while Birthright is free. Am I making the right choice by asking that she wait? -- Weighing the Odds, Brooklyn, New York
DEAR WEIGHING THE ODDS: I want to start by saying that I do not think anyone should be doing the pilgrimage to Israel right now as the war that is currently underway continues to escalate, even in the face of an agreed-upon cease-fire. It is not a safe time to go. I know from talking to many families over the years that often the news reports about war in the area make the reality seem much worse than it is over much of Israel. But by all accounts, the danger is very real right now.
That said, whenever it is the right time for your daughter to go to Israel, the Birthright program has been highly lauded over the years. Given that its curriculum is well-respected and it is free, it seems to be the perfect and practical choice.