Two Chabad on Campus rabbis who between them have led 55 Taglit-Birthright Israel Mayanot trips since the program’s founding 14 years ago were honored in Jerusalem for their dedication to strengthening Jewish identity, heritage and continuity.

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 25,000 students have taken part in the Taglit-Birthright Israel Mayanot programs.

But two rabbis, in particular, led noteworthy trips during this year’s winter break.

Rabbi Dov Hillel Klein, director of Chabad at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., just outside of Chicago, concluded his 30th trip at the helm shortly after the ceremony. And Rabbi Eliezer Sneiderman, director of Chabad on Campus at the University of Delaware in Newark, Del., was presented a gift by his 25th Birthright group, which was followed by a presentation from Mayanot.

Rabbi Shlomo Gestetner, director of the Mayanot Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, and Danny Sack, director of Mayanot’s Taglit-Birthright Israel program, expressed their appreciation to the rabbis.

Sack spoke of his many years of partnership with Klein and Sneiderman, and pointed out that these two rabbis are “not just trip leaders, they put their heart and soul into it. They work for months ahead of time” to create the perfect trip, itinerary and atmosphere for every participant.

“Each trip Rabbi Klein leads is literally like his first,” affirmed Sack.

Rabbi Eliezer Sneiderman, center left, director of Chabad on Campus at the University of Delaware, at the Mayanot presentation.
Rabbi Eliezer Sneiderman, center left, director of Chabad on Campus at the University of Delaware, at the Mayanot presentation.

Of Sneiderman, he emphasized that “the rabbi is a true partner. He’s involved in every aspect, beyond the recruiting and the leading. He’s involved in our educational programming, staff coordination and more.”

Matthew Ackerman, director of Recruitment for Taglit-Birthright Israel, attended both ceremonies and extended congratulations to the rabbis on behalf of the organization. Speaking of the Lubavitcher Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—Ackerman stated that “he strived to bring one more mitzvah to every single Jew by inspiring an army to reach every corner of the world.”

Both rabbis, he explained, have devoted their lives to this cause.

“Leading Taglit-Birthright Israel trips is part of that mission to connect Jewish people to their history and tradition,” he said. “We value and honor their partnership and commitment.”

“As recruitment director, I certainly look forward to the next 25 trips and 1,000 students you’ll bring,” said Ackerman to Sneiderman.

“I truly feel privileged and honored to be able to lead these trips,” said Klein after he was presented a plaque with the inscription, “Ben shloshim l’koach” – “At 30, one achieves real strength.”

“These trips change people’s lives,” stressed Klein. “Just this Saturday night, 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.”

Mayanot’s campus rabbi coordinator, and social media and engagement strategist Levi Margolin emceed both events, saying: “We gathered the people who make this happen to honor the rabbis—the people who value their deep commitment and continued efforts on behalf of Taglit-Birthright Israel, on behalf of Mayanot and on behalf of the Jewish people. It is our honor and privilege to work with them.”